Nordegg National Historic Site of Canada
Clearwater County, Alberta
© Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, L. Felske, 1998.
Nordegg, Clearwater County, Alberta
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1911 to 1955
1911 to 1955
Event, Person, Organization:
Research Report Number:
June 2001 A01
Existing plaque: Nordegg, Alberta
Brazeau Collieries, a major coal producer in the Rocky Mountain region, was established in 1911 by Martin Nordegg to provide fuel for the Canadian Northern Railway. Until it closed in 1955, the mine employed skilled miners and used the latest surface preparation techniques to produce coal and briquettes for railway and household use. The site contains the best surviving example of a surface plant in the mountain region. Although little of the company town survives, the wash house, club house and police office offer insight into the living and working conditions of the miners, and the community.
Description of Historic Place
Nordegg National Historic Site of Canada is situated on a heavily-forested hillside located in foothills of the Canadian Rockies about 90 kilometres west of Rocky Mountain House National Historic Side of Canada, in Alberta. The original mine entrance and surface plant form a linear pattern spilling down the hillside, with two original mine entries at the top, followed by series of smaller mine service buildings and the remains of the plant power house. Below this service area is the sprawling complex of steel-frame structures covered in metal sheeting that made up the various parts of the 1951 coal processing plant. At the bottom of the site are the coal loading facilities and the railway spur line that carried the coal to markets. The designation refers to all those coal-mining-related resources found within the defined boundaries of the national historic site of Canada.
Nordegg was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2001 because: Nordegg played a substantial role in the second stage of steam coal development, important in the fate of the coal industry as a whole in Alberta and southeastern British Columbia from the end of the First World War to the mid-1950s; the site contains elements relating to mine entries, power house, preparation plant, and rail line, and represents the most complete example of a coal-mining surface plant in the region. Its preparation facilities reflect the relatively complex techniques used in the steam coal branch of the industry; the resources, as a whole, illustrate the role of entrepreneurs, technology, labour, and the state in the development of the industry after the First World War.
The heritage value of the site resides in all those coal mining and preparation related resources found within the defined boundaries of the national historic site of Canada. The mine operated from 1911 to 1955 and was also associated with the expansion of the railway transportation network during the early 20th century. It was financed through an agreement in 1909 between the Canadian Northern Railway and a group of German, Belgian and British investors lead by the German businessman, Martin Nordegg, who also managed the mine.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2001; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 2003.
The key elements relating to the heritage value of this site include: the isolated character of the heavily-forested setting which explains the need for a self-sufficient operation; the linear layout of the buildings from the mine entrances at the top, to the loading facilities and rail line at the bottom that provided the most effective and energy-efficient way of moving the coal through the processing plants; the functional diversity of the building types, including the mine entrances, a power plant, various repair workshops, a wash house, a lamp house, an administrative building, and residences, which illustrate the range of activities required to sustain a self-sufficient coal mine; the variety of building materials, including concrete, brick, wood, steel, and metal sheeting that reflect the evolution of construction types from the earliest, predominately wood frame structures to the later more permanent and fire-resistant structures made with brick, concrete and steel framing and metal sheeting; the 1951 steel-frame coal-processing complex with aluminium siding, fully equipped with all its original machinery used for unloading, cleaning, pulverizing, mixing and compressing the coal into briquettes; the surviving landscape features associated with coal mining operations, including the historic roadway, walking paths, slack pile and the rail bed of the former tram line, and surviving power poles that carried the coal from the mine to the processing plant.