mining songs, music, photographs Cambria Publishing


A documentary photography project that began 23 years ago with the closure of the Canmore Mines has come to fruition with the forthcoming release of a finely printed book of black-and-white photographs: Canmore Miners ~ Coal Miner Portraits and Stories.

When the 93-year-old Canmore Mines was closed on July 13th, 1979, Calgary-based photographer Lawrence Chrismas was studying with a photography masterclass at the Banff Centre of Fine Arts. The closure announcement swept him up “in the local wave of shock,” he writes in the book’s Introduction. “I remarked to one individual that I’d like to meet some of the old-time miners who could offer their reflections on the closing…” A subsequent introduction to coal miner Atillio Caffaro sparked the photographer’s imagination and launched him on a personal quest to record the images and stories of coal miners across Canada.

At the behest of the Canmore Centennial Museum Society and its president, Cathy Jones, Chrismas returned to Canmore in 2002 to complete Canmore Miners. He notes that a project that began with one portrait “has now come full circle.

“And in the years since I first photographed Atillio, Canmore has been transformed. Shortly after the mine closed, practically all traces of its operations were removed and, at the same time, the town began a period of record growth that has now almost eradicated the memory of its coal mining roots. It is difficult to comprehend that amongst the new housing developments, former coal miners and their families still live in their original mine houses.”

Canmore Miners was produced for the Canmore Centennial Museum Society and was sponsored by Canmore individuals, families, businesses and the Town of Canmore. Published and distributed by Cambria Publishing of Calgary, the book is dedicated to the “salt-of-the-earth people: Canmore miners and their families.”

Lawrence Chrismas has published two major award-winning books: CoalDust Grins ~ Portraits of Canadian Coal Miners and Alberta Miners ~ A Tribute, as well as a music CD of original mining songs based on his documentation of Canadian Miners (CoalDust Grins ~ A Musical Portrait). Chrismas was awarded a fellowship in the Canadian Institute of Mining and was recently conferred as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts for his contribution to the arts through his documentary photography.

Official release of Canmore Miners took place in the Canmore Museum on Saturday October 5, 2002 and in Calgary on September 29 at the Independent Publishers Association Booth during the ‘Word on the Street Book Fair’ at Calgary’s Eau Claire Market.

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