Location: East Coulee
Profile: Joyce Avramenko grew up on her grandparents’ farm near Drumheller and later in town. She married a coal miner in her early teens in East Coulee where her husband mined for several years before the mine closed and they moved to Canmore where he could continue to work as a miner. She describes the hard life of a miner’s wife, raising children in a tiny coal-heated home with no running water and little in the way of real furniture. Their husbands’ incomes being low, the women canned vegetables, and made their own wine and bread. The women crocheted and planted flowers to provide colour for their modest homes in towns where coal dust settled on everything. Women’s efforts created the community life of the coal-mining towns, including community entertainments and sports. Everyone helped each other out in East Coulee though less so in Canmore, where Avramenko’s family struggled after her husband suffered a back injury in 1964 that had permanent effects on his health. Though community spirit was evident in many areas of coal-mining community life, the communities turned a blind eye when men abused wives and children. Racism was also pervasive in these communities.
Keywords: Canmore mines; Coal dust; Coal mining accidents; Coal mine closings; Community life in coal-mining towns; Churches in coal-mining towns; Domestic abuse in coal-mining towns; Drumheller area mines; East Coulee mine; Racism in coal-mining towns; Ukrainian Canadians; Unions in coal mining; Women’s domestic work in coal-mining towns.
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See also: Moving Forward: Alberta Women and Work