Profile: Clara Montgomery was the daughter of an American man who had settled in the Morin, Alberta area in 1909 and a Saskatchewan woman who had moved to Morin to work as an assistant at a boarding house. Morin is 16 miles north of Drumheller, which was the centre of a large coal mining area for many decades. While coal dominated the local economy, farm families had only passing contact with the miners though they admired the miners’ hard work. Farmers often hauled their own coal from the mines, and at times that proved deadly. A Morin man was killed when he and another man had gone to haul coal and the coal “bank caved in from above, covering him.” As a child, Montgomery helped to fill coal pails and carried out the ashes each morning. Her family had the job of maintaining a local school, carrying pails of water from a farm, and pails of coal from a coal shed to put on the embers in the furnace to keep it alive overnight. In 1945 the coal burned the school down. Montgomery recalls the entertainments in their small town, including softball, dances, and fishing in the Red Deer River.
Keywords: Child labour on farms; Coal deaths; Coal strikes; Drumheller area; Farming.
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