HISTORICAL MARKER PROJECT
There are five historical markers in the Beverly area – three documenting the location and history of coal mines in the community, one marker documenting the site and the history of the original town halls and one documenting the Golden Years of sports in the Beverly Heights community league.
Coal Mines of Beverly
1899/1900-1925 and 1928-1934
Humberstone Coal Mine
Mine #43. North half. Sec. 7-53-23-W4, west of river and part of River Lot 40. Entrance along northeast bank of North Saskatchewan (30th street), north 0f 111th Avenue and south of 115th Avenue. Recorded production: 980,837 tons. Recovery: 47.5 %. Thickness of coal mined: five feet to 7 feet 6 inches.
In 1899, William and Besta Humberstone bought a half section, east of 34th street and south of 118th Avenue, where they launched the Humberstone Coal Company. William and Besta established a farm on the land to house and grow food for the mine workers and livestock. Eventually, the farm comprised over 200 acres of tilled land. It was the beginning of the settlement that became Beverly.
The original mine entrance was a horizontal shaft, called a drift, located on the riverbank south of the present-day Clover Bar Bridge. In 1900, the mine had a capacity of 10 tons of coal daily. About 1910, a new shaft was dug and a spur track was laid to connect the Humberstone Mine to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad. In the late 1910’s, the Humberstone Mine had 200 employees, with a monthly payroll of $25,000.
The mine originally used the room and pillar mining method. Miners dug, using a pick and a shovel, leaving “pillars” of coal in the centre of rooms to hold up the ceiling. The tunnels were shored up using seven foot lengths of spruce, popular, and tamarack. Once the coal was freed, it was put into carts on tracks and pulled out by pit ponies that lived underground.
On the main track, the cars were picked up by steam or compressed air-powered “donkey” engines. The coal was dumped into hoist cars that brought it to the surface where it was poured over a shaker screen to separate and grade it based on size. A steam-powered loader poured the coal into box cars.
William’s health failed in 1915 and Besta took control over the mine’s operations. She leased the mine and its equipment from her husband, becoming owner and operator. Besta reorganized the company, utilizing new technology such as the Sullivan Puncher Machine to increase productivity. By 1918, the mine was the best equipped in the Clover Bar field, with a capacity of 1,000 tons per day. William Humberstone died in April of 1922.
The company reorganized in 1923 as Humberstone Mines Limited and 3,000 shares were sold at $10 each. In 1925, there was a fire at the mine. The damage and the depleted coal reserves closed the mine. It re-opened in 1928, but closed in 1934 due to the Great Depression. The carts and tracks were abandoned and the mine was sealed.
Coal Mines of Beverly
Bush (Davidson) Coal Mine
Mine #707. Location: River Lots 38 and 40. Entrances west of 36th Street and south of 104 Avenue. Recorded production: (27 of 28 years, no production in 1919): 705,246 tons. Estimated average recovery: 57.5%. Estimated average thickness of coal mined: 4 feet 9 inches.
In 1912, Adam James (A.J.) Davidson purchased land and mineral rights along the bank of the North Saskatchewan River. He registered the Beverly Coal and Gravel Company Limited #707 in 1917 and began operations in October of that year. The first mine was a drift, a horizontal cut into the bank following a coal seam. It produced 1,365 tons and was closed after four months.
When the mine re-opened in 1920, as many as seven drifts were used to access a coal seam located above the river bed. Coal was loaded into coal cars and pulled to the top of the bank along a steel cable powered by a steam engine. On top of the bank, Davidson built a barn to house the mine horses and engine room. A chute was installed at the valley rim and one at the river. In the spring and fall, coal was sold from the top of the bank and at the river in the winter. In winter, a horse-drawn coal sleigh delivered coal to residents of Beverly and to customers in Edmonton.
The operation was successful from the start. Large quantities of coal were mined during the 1920 and 1921 seasons, and in 1923, a hoisting shaft was installed at the rim of the bank near 103rd Avenue and 36th Street. A tipple was built to hoist the coal out of the mine. It had screens to grade the coal and chutes to transfer coal to waiting trucks. An office building, weight scales, a boiler room, and a bunkhouse were added. The boiler provided the hot water for showers. To keep workers, Davidson enlisted the help of his daughter to cook meals for the miners.
In 1928, the mine was leased to Bush Mines Limited and Davidson went on to start a dairy business. By 1933, 100 and 200 foot longwall faces were operating, but the days of coal-heating were fading and by March 1944, the mine was closed for good. Subsequently, the area became a gravel pit. As a result of the gravel pit, the landscape has been significantly altered.
Coal Mines of Beverly
1913 – 1951
Beverly Coal Mine
Mine No.1366. Entrance east of 43 Street and south of 121st Avenue. Recorded production: 836,882 tons. Underground production: 817,000 tons. Recovery of 57.5%. Estimated thickness of underground coal mine five feet.
The great Depression resulted in job losses and hardships for millions of people across North America. In Beverly, on third of the work force was on relief and the town accruing debt. The Beverly coal Mine was seen as the project that would pride jobs and revenues for the town. In 1931, The town of Beverly bought the coal rights within its boundaries and sponsored a cooperative that sold 500 shares at $100 each. About 90% of the investors were Beverly residents. Workers were paid in shares at $5 per week.
At the 43rd street and 121 Avenue site, the work of digging a shaft to coal level at 164 feet below surface was done with hand shovels. With no money to buy timber for cribbing supports, sidewalks were ripped up and boards nailed across the twelve by fourteen-inch timber hauled from the Canadian National Railway yards. The shaft was completed in 1932 and divided into three vertical compartments, two with cages to bring men down and coal back up and third with ladders for emergencies. A 110 foot high tipple was built over the main shaft. Air was supplied through a shaft half a block east of the tipple and was propelled by two hug fans.
Machinery was purchased with a demand loan of $14,000 from E.J. Clarke on a “demand” note. Main tunnels (ten feet wide) were dug. The north and west tunnels were closed when they were flooded by and underground river. The south tunnel extended to 114 Avenue. Coal was removed with cutters similar to chainsaws. The cutters would carve six to eight inches at the base of the coal wall and small dynamite charge at the four corners of the wall would release the coal through the cut. Coal was packed into coal cars on tracks and though a series of horse drawn efforts made its way to the cates and then to the tipple. It was weighed, stored and screened for size and grade. Trucks backed up to the appropriate chute to load and deliver the coal.
Although sales were good, the company did not succeed and declared bankruptcy in 1933. Miners lost $70,000 in wages. Shares were worthless. Clarke invested $30,000 more and claimed the assets. He operated the mine until the late 1940’s when H. Davidson took over as the Beverly Coal Company. Operations ceased in 1951. Coal had been replaced by natural gas as a heating source.
This mine marker is located at 121 Avenue and 43 Street
Beverly Town Halls
The first Council of Beverly met in a Methodist mission tent. When the Town of Beverly was incorporated on July 13 of 1914, Council chambers were in the basement of the public school. A small wooden building moved from the school property to Beverly Boulevard (38th Street) and Alberta Avenue (118 Avenue), housed the Secretary-Treasurer.
The provincial government’s concern with the security of the town’s books was the motivation for a new town hall. On February 22, 1917, the Public Works Committee reviewed a set of plans from Allan Merrick Jeffers (architect of the Alberta Legislature Building). The plans were too elaborate so Jeffers presented a revised set, stating “that the cost would be no less than $7,500”. The budget was $6,000 — records show that cuts were made to the size, the material, and the height of the roof.
Brown and Hargraves, the contractors, completed the building for $7,239.00. Built next to the original Secretary-Treasurer’s building, it was 15 feet from the street line and 4 feet from the west property line “with common brick on the sides and the north end and better brick for the front”.
Police, fire services, the “Committee Room”, and a courtroom where Emily Murphy was a Justice of the Peace were on the main floor. The second floor was used for community social events and a school room for Grades 1 and 2. It was heavy use that spelled the end of the second storey.
In 1936, the walls and beams were shored with metal rods and all dancing was prohibited. These actions were too late to save the building. In 1943, it was decided to demolish the building and to replace it with a single storey frame structure. Materials, including 41,000 bricks, were salvaged to help finance the demolition and construction.
The new building served the functions of the municipality until the amalgamation with Edmonton in 1962. It sad empty for a number of years and was also demolished, circa 1968.
Beverly Heights Sports Marker
Beverly Heights Sports: The Golden Years – 1960s to 1990s
Tom Cross (1928-1997)
Tom and Millie Cross moved to Beverly in 1960 and immediately involved their family in the community. Tom believed that the children in Beverly Heights deserved an opportunity to play organized sports in their own neighbourhood. To build a ring that could support the demand, Tom offered to mortgage his home. The Crosses and nie other families backed a bank load and the new ring building was completed. Once the rink was built Tom stepped in as the icemaker, maintenance man and organizer of sports including hockey soccer, baseball softball, recreational and figure skating. Tom owned a truck and tractor business in Edmonton and was busy during the construction season. In the winter months he cleared snow but also used his tractor to clean the rink and parking area. For a dozen years (until 1977), many people thought of Tom and Millie as the rink owners. Tom was a catalyst and a doer, someone who was universally respected an trusted. He inspired a passion for community sports that gave Beverly Heights one of the best programs in Edmonton. The Tom Cross Tournament was named in his honour.
Roger Bourassa (1915-1979)
Roger and Mary Anne Bourassa arrived in Beverly in 1939. In 1949, Roger opened the Beverly Cycle Shop that soon became an institution in Beverly. In 1953-1954 and 1955, Roger managed the Beverly Drake Baseball team when they won the Intermediate Baseball Association Championship three years in a row. During these years Roger organized recreational mens, womens and mixed teams that played softball at Floden Park. During the winter, Roger worked building skating rinks on the Mucha property. These were precursors to the community league rinks. He took the job of Park Supervisor for the Town of Beverly in 1959, looking after the baseball parks in the summer and running the skating rik (Beacon Heights) in the winter, where he started an in house hockey league for the Beverly hockey players. In 1965, Roger became caretaker at the Floden Park skating rink, working until his health failed. Roger built a solid foundation for sports programs in Beverly. He was honoured by the Beverly Heights Community League, the Beverly Minor Hockey Association and the Warriors Athletic Club.
Beverly Heights Sports: The Golden Years – 1960s to 1990s
These murals are dedicated to the army of visionaries, leaders, coaches and players whose perseverance and gifts of time and skills make the Beverly Heights Community League sports programs some of the biggest, best and most diverse in the City of Edmonton.
Beverly was one of the fastest growing towns in Alberta during the 1950s, it population increasing from 2,938 in 1953 to 8,250 people in 1958. The Beverly Community League (1949), unable to engage these new families, suspended programs until 1958 when a new promotion urged families to, Invest One Five Spot for 12 Months of Entertainment. It was a success. In 1959, the community league with help from the Lions and Optimist Clubs built a rink at Floden Park, identical to the Beverly Jubilee Park Community Ring. A grant allowed the town to build a recreation centre at Floden Park. With amalgamation, the centre became the property of the City of Edmonton. The Beverly Heights Community League purchased the building in 1978.
By 1965, when the Beverly Community Recreation League split into the Beverly Heights an the Beacon Heights Community Leagues, the small rink building wa no longer adequate. With no money to expand, ten families took a big risk and signed promissory notes to fund a new rink building next door to the old site. By the end of the 1960s, Beverly heights Community League had the largest membership in Edmonton. It also had one of the biggest and most diverse sports programs in community league history. During this time, the league regularly iced 20-27 hockey teams and fielded dozens of boys and girls softball, baseball, and soccer teams. Basketball, ringette, figure skating and speed skating rounded out the options.
Tom Cross Tournament 1981 to 2001
Started by Tom and Millie Cross with the help of Kathy Morrison, the Tom Cross Tournament began as a way to involve Mites, who were not included when the tournament was scheduled between Edmonton Minor Hockey week and the playoffs. Beverly Heights and Beacon Heights formed the B & B Blazers and over the years a series of committees worked to make this the biggest outdoor hockey tournament in the region.
Expanded stories on www.beverlyheights.ca and www.beverlyhistory.ca
Lawrence Jacobs, Arlene Carter, Terry Verhegge, Jason Burgardt, Colleen Fidler
Beverly Heights Community League • Olde Towne Beverly Historical Society
City of Edmonton • Edmonton Heritage Council