Monday, 27 January 2014

Entrepreneurs and Innovators - Part 7

On now until February 2, the Galt Museum & Archives presents an exhibit celebrating southwestern Alberta businesses, inventors and researchers. Entrepreneurs and Innovators features photos from the Galt Archives's holdings, and can be seen in the lower gallery, outside the archives. This blog post is the seventh installment in a series based on the exhibit.

Black Horse's coal mine 

Black Horse with his wife. Provincial Archives A1551.

A coal mine on the Blood Reserve began along the St. Mary’s River in 1890, under the operation of Heavy Gun. The first work was accomplished by pick and shovel, but Soon a tunnel was opened with a rail for cars to bring coal to the surface. By 1894, when Black Horse took over, the mine produced 200 tons for the Agency, boarding school, and settlers in the Macleod area, with an additional 100 tons of reserve being sold to the Galt mining company. The small-scale operation provided employment and remained competitive with other coal producers due to its proximity to Fort Macleod until the late 1930s. At this point the federal government forced its closure due to pressures from non-native competitors.



Charles Noble

Noble's first production facility on his farm, 1930s. Galt Archives P20001076475.
In 1903, Charles Noble bought land north-west of Lethbridge in the area that would become Nobleford. The Noble Foundation was incorporated in 1913 to operate his interests, which grew to six farms totaling 10,000 acres by 1916 and soon tripled in land holdings. However, low wheat prices and drought forced the foreclosure of the Foundation in 1922.

Undaunted by these difficulties, Noble rebuilt his farm with a renewed focus on dryland farming techniques. He invented the Noble Drill in the late 1920s, a seeder that minimized soil disturbance. In 1936 he invented the Noble Blade which dug under the surface of the ground thatch and cut the roots of weeds without burying the stubble. The advantage of this implement was that it minimized soil erosion by leaving “trash” cover. By 1941, a factory was built in Nobleford and Noble promoted his products so successfully that as demand grew and a larger facility was built. Charles Noble passed away in 1957, and the company he founded was sold to Versatile Manufacturing Ltd. In 1982.

By Sven Andreassen

Sven Andreassen is a recent graduate of the University of  British Columbia's Master of Archival Studies program. He volunteered in the Galt Archives in 2013  and curated this exhibit.

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