Cambria Publishing
mining songs, music, photographs Lawrence Chrismas Photography
Canmore Miners Gallery
Page 89
Walter Riva
Retired Coal Mining Executive

My grandfather came over from Italy about 1900. He was still working at the mine in 1940, when I started. He had four sons and they all worked in the mines. Each brother, including my dad, had more than 40 years apiece with Canmore Mines.

I worked at the mine three different times, first in 1940, then immediately after the war, then from 1949 to 1973. The first time, I remember very clearly getting my lunch-bucket and walking down to the mine with my dad in the morning, and then him showing me where to hang my clothes and where to get a lamp. I was 18.

I enlisted in the air force and, after the war, went to the University of Alberta on the vetrans' scheme. As a mining student, I worked one summer for West Canadian Collieries, first at Blairmore, then at Bellevue. When I graduated, the best job offer came from Canmore. My last year at university, I worked night shift at the Black Diamond in Cloverbar. That was on the end of a shovel. I was quite glad for that experience.

I worked 23 years continuously at Canmore Mines. During my time here, we started shipments to Japan. The first Canadian coal that went to Japan came from Canmore. We had to fight hard to develop and maintain markets. I was active in selling Canmore Mines because the existing operation could not survive financially.

When I left Canmore, I went to Denison Mines to work on the northeast British Columbia coal project. A year later, I joined Kaiser Resources and ran their operations in southeast B.C.

I enjoyed the Canadian Institute of Mining because of the mining aspect. One of the highlights of my life was to become president of CIM in 1983 / 84. I've held qute a few positions, including chairman of the Coal Division.

Canmore was a wonderful place to grow up - my wife and I grew up here. There were about 1,000 people here so you knew everybody, every single family and you knew every house and who lived in it.