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Frank, 107 Years after the Slide

by Christine Hayes - 1 Comment(s)

PC 819

Front or Dominion Street, Frank, before the slide

Postcards From the Past, PC 819

“At dawn, on April 29, 1903, a huge rock mass, nearly half a mile square and probably 400 to 500 feet thick in places, suddenly broke loose from the east face of Turtle mountain and precipitated itself with terrible violence into the valley beneath, overwhelming everything in its course. “ This is how the report on the landslide describes the terrible events of 107 years ago. 100 people of the population of 600 lived in the path of the slide. Seventy were believed to have perished. Property destroyed included the tipple and plant at the mouth of the Canadian American Coal and Coke Co. Mine, a barn and seven cottages belonging to the company, a half-dozen outlying houses and ranches and a considerable number of horses and cattle. The railway track was buried for 7000 feet.

The structure of Turtle Mountain, looming over the town of roughly 600 people, was unstable and may have been further destabilized by coal mining. The rail line to the town was buried but the quick actions of Sid Choquette, a brakeman, stopped the Crow’s Nest express passenger train that was on a collision course with the tons of rock on the track ahead. It was reported in the newspaper that the trauma of witnessing these events caused Mr. Choquette to suffer a breakdown (“gone crazy” was how the newspaper put it). Even several days after the event, the cause was not known and speculation was that it was caused by a volcanic eruption or an earthquake.

The paper includes some miraculous tales of survival, like that of the Ennis family whose house was rolled over three times but the family survived with just bruises. Some of the miners, who were trapped inside the mine by the slide, were rescued. The Daily Herald of Thursday April 30, 1903, included a list of those who were known to be killed by the slide and includes nine unnamed Russian Polish miners, six unnamed miners from Lancashire, and two unknown miners from Wales in addition to the merchants, miners, ranchers, men, women and children whose names were known.

PC 432

Dominion Avenue/Front Street after the Slide

Postcards from the Past, PC 432

Some of the oldest newspaper clippings we have in the Community Heritage and Family History collection are clippings from 1903 about the slide. We also have the official report, issued in 1904 by the Department of the Interior (PAM FILE 363.349 MCC). We also have photographic postcards of Frank both before and after the slide. The contrast of what it was and what it became is quite startling. You can look at these postcards in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Collection (the link is in the left hand column) by searching the term “Frank”.

This was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Alberta. The events of that night have remained in the minds and imaginations of Albertans since then. The site remains mostly as it was and serves as a monument to those who lost their lives and a reminder of the power of nature.

PC 270

Frank, Alberta, nestled at the foot of Turtle Mountain

Postcards from the Past, PC 270

Discover Historic Calgary

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 52

13th Avenue Looking East

Postcards From the Past PC 52

A couple of months ago I went to a Heritage Roundtable where the City of Calgary Heritage Planners talked about a new website they were launching. It was called “Discover Historic Calgary” and it contains a whack of information about the built heritage of the city of Calgary. I was very excited to see this website because we here in the Community Heritage and Family History section of the Calgary Public Library always knew what kind of information the Heritage Planners were collecting about the buildings in the city but access to this information was a little complicated. Now it is available on a website for all interested Calgarians to see. It is well worth a visit. It includes information about buildings on the “Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources” and includes information such as location, history, significance and even historic and contemporary photographs. It also includes an explanation of the Historic Resource Evaluation System.

You can search for historic buildings by keyword, by address, or by development era. The advanced search allows you to search by use, architectural style, use or community. The “Help” link provides a really good overview of what the searches entail. This is another great resource that researchers interested in the history of Calgary can use in conjunction with our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. You can access Discover Historic Calgary at

Where do I look for genealogy information...?

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Doors from iStock

Working at the reference desk we get asked all kinds of genealogical questions. Even though we do research our own family histories, we are often called upon to find information in places that we don’t have personal experience in. We are always on the lookout for good resources to help researchers find information in various countries. My colleagues, bless their hearts, are always digging in resources and pulling rabbits out of their hats, so to speak. This time it was the person who does the entries for our Best Websites. She was entering a country resource, Portals to the World from the Library of Congress, and noticed, as she was flipping through the site, that it includes information that would be very helpful to genealogical researchers. She quickly pointed this out to me and so I am pointing it out to you!

We have long used a resource called Portals to the World from the Library of Congress to find information about countries. The links are collected by subject experts at the Library of Congress and include historical, cultural and political resources as well as information on language and literature and travel. But what got us really excited is the link for Genealogy. Pop in to Portals of the World and see what I mean. It is under our E-Library, accessible from the front page,, or from any catalogue page. In the box called “Easy Find” the first listing is “Best Websites”. This collection includes lots of stuff for genealogy that you only have to type “genealogy” to find. So type “genealogy” into the search tags box and find Portals to the World. Choose a country and have a look at the kind of information that is available.

Country resources can, in themselves, be helpful in genealogical research because knowing the history and political situation in the countries from which our ancestors came can help direct our search and can also answer some of those basic questions. Portals to the World holds a little more specific information as well. See the link “Genealogy”? Under this link you will find links to sites that provide information for genealogical researchers. The Library of Congress has also included links to their collection, where appropriate. This link is at the top of the page and can provide invaluable information about resources that we might not otherwise know about.

Another link that every genealogist should check is the one to “Libraries and Archives”. These are the repositories that will hold much of the data you are looking for and knowing where they are and what they hold can be a real boon.

So, check out Portals to the World. It’s not just for Social Studies homework!