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.
|Noble's first production facility on his farm, 1930s. Galt Archives P20001076475.|
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.