Hosmer, British Columbia
And is situated near Mount Hosmer.
Hosmer was named after Charles R. Hosmer, railway official.
- Fernie Free Press – Weekly paper
- Kootenay News Advertiser – Weekly paper
- The Valley – Weekly paper
- Fernie Fix – Monthly glossy magazine
Hosmer’s rise to its brief fame in the British Columbia Crowsnest Pass began in 1906 when the Canadian Pacific Railway established the settlement. The town was a vital link in a long line of coal mining communities that sprang up with great optimism from the Alberta side of the Pass, and westward into British Columbia’s Elk Valley. A year later, the CPR established the Pacific Coal Company to take charge of the mining operation in Hosmer through a company called Hosmer Mines Ltd. By 1908, a comprehensive coal mining site at Hosmer, intended to supply coke to the CPR’s smelter at Trail, B.C., was under construction, including a tipple, boiler house, coke ovens, machine shops, powerhouse and a magnificent array of 240 three and a half meter in diameter, two meter-high beehive ovens..
With the promise of prosperity apparent, the building of a town site was well underway by 1910. The new community, reached a population of almost 1,300 by 1913, boasting two residential sections, four boarding houses, four hotels – including The Royal, The Pacific, The Hosmer and The Queen’s – a hospital, several churches, a Bank of Montreal branch, and an opera house which doubled as a movie theatre for silent picture shows. Hosmer even had a Red Light District, as well as a newspaper called the Hosmer Times.
In the early years, Hosmer became famous due to the heroics of Fred Alderson, an underground drägerman at the local mine who became known as the Hosmer Hero for giving his life in a rescue attempt to save miners after the deadly Bellevue mine explosion in the Alberta Crowsnest Pass on Dec. 9, 1910. The explosion killed 31 miners, including Alderson. Alderson’s heroism was reported provincially, nationally and internationally, including in his native England. “No language of which we are capable can describe the abnegation and self-sacrifice displayed, and no greater eulogy can be paid than he gave his life for others,” wrote the Hosmer Times. Alderson was buried at the cemetery in Hosmer, and an inscription reads, “Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” in 1913, Hosmer’s mine operations produced 266,000 tons of coal and 66,800 tons of coke, which accounted for 16 and 21 per cent of East Kootenay’s output. But it was not nearly enough for the CPR.
The next year CPR brass closed the mine; disappointed with its production, worried about tensions in Europe which would trigger the First World War, and noting the difficulties and cost of extracting high-quality coal. Miners moved to other Crowsnest Pass communities for work, while others signed up for military duty in the First World War. By the end of the summer, most of the mine’s machinery was shipped to other nearby towns, notably Fernie and Michel.
Today, the town still has a hundred or so residents, mostly oil and gas workers and entrepreneurs. They are fiercely loyal to their historic community, which is halfway point between Fernie, 10 kilometers south, and Sparwood, which is 10 kilometers north of Hosmer. Most of the old town is gone, but along the nearby mountainside in deep brush lie the magnificent and ghostly ruins of the mine site. As well, 46 coke ovens still remain. Up on the mountain is the pioneer cemetery, which includes the last resting place for Fred Alderson.
For many years, Hosmer residents as well as officials from the Fernie and District Historical Society have been trying to convince the various levels of government to declare the ruins as historical sites
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