Lena Shellian

ShellianYear: 2005
Location: Canmore
Profile: Lena Shellian was born and raised in Canmore. The grandchild of Czech immigrants whose grandfather worked as a miner in Canmore, Shellian’s dad also worked as a miner in the area. His work resulted in his developing silicosis and dying relatively young. Shellian left Canmore briefly as a young adult but then returned to work in a hospital and later in the company store before marrying and raising a family. Her husband, a mine fire boss, died, like her dad, of silicosis. He fought for years to get a pension from the Workers Compensation Board.
Shellian developed an interest in heritage. She worked with the Canmore Museum to document and disseminate the history of Canmore and its miners. She outlines what buildings remain from the coalmining period. Her stories include reminiscences about six Chinese workers in the town with whom she had positive interactions but who were paid less than the white men.
Keywords: Canmore; Canmore Museum; Chinese workers; Immigrant workers; Mine closings; Mining communities: social life; Mining: occupational dangers; Silicosis; United Mine Workers; Workers Compensation Board.
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See also: Coal mining; Health and Safety; Systemic Racism