Masthead image

As Anthracite was dying early in the 20th century, a new community in Banff National Park called Bankhead rose two kilometres north further up the Cascade Valley. From 1904 to 1922, Bankhead — supplying coal for the locomotives of the Canadian Pacific Railway — survived and at one point boasted a population of 1,500, including 300 underground coal mine workers.

Coal slags

Some of the original coal cars are still on display at Bankhead.

Coal cars
Huge slags of coal are still present at the mine site. After being untouched for decades, a few trees and rhubarb lay their roots.
© Johnnie Bachusky
© Johnnie Bachusky
The town, geographically split between the massive mine site and the residential area, included an hotel, school facilities, pool hall, a restaurant, stores, several saloons, about 100 residential homes, a boarding house for single men and a church — the ruins still at the site, its elegance reminding visitors of the town’s once promising future. But the mine site’s poor quality of coal and continuous labor strikes forced the mine to close in 1922.
Hilltop church Steps from Bankhead hilltop church
© Johnnie Bachusky
Only the steps remain from Bankhead's hill top church. When the mine closed in 1922, it was sawed in half. The top went to Calgary where it remained in use until the early 1960s.
Photo credit: Private collection.

A photograph of the hill top church at Bankhead, which was cut from its foundation and transported to Calgary’s Forest Lawn district. It remained in use until the early 1960s.

Bankhead's mine lamp house
© Johnnie Bachusky
The remains of the Bankhead mine's lamp house.