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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Turtle Mountain Coal Mines Plaque (Municipality of Brenda-Waskada)

In 1989, a plaque was erected at this site in the Municipality of Brenda-Waskada by the Manitoba Heritage Council, commemorating coal mines that had once operated in the region.

Manitoba’s only commercial coal operations were developed following discovery of lignite near the Turtle Mountain in 1879. Production began in 1883 with the opening of the Lennox mine and continued intermittently at the Vodden, McArthur, McKay, and Manitoba Coal Company mines until 1908. Coal was extracted from outcrops in ravines and from shallow shafts. Its availability spurred settlement while offering supplementary income to local farmers. The construction of railways introduced competitive Saskatchewan coal and commercial production here was suspended.

Interest in mining was revived during the Depression because Turtle Mountain lignite was cheaper than higher grades. At its peak, annual production of the McArthur, Henderson, Deep Ravine, Salter, Powne, and Deloraine Coal Company mines averaged over 1000 tons each. The wartime labour shortage and changed economic conditions forced the last mine to close in 1943.

The Salter mine operated from 1932 to 1938 under the management of John Nestibo. The Henderson mine was operated by John Nestibo from 1931 to 1932 then taken over by George Cain until it closed in 1939.

Former Turtle Mountain coal mine site

Former Turtle Mountain coal mine site (circa 1931)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Nestibo Collection.

Former Turtle Mountain coal mine site as it appears today

Former Turtle Mountain coal mine site as it appears today (2016)
Source: Ken Storie

Turtle Mountain coal mines plaque

Turtle Mountain coal mines plaque (October 2011)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.05857, W100.55626
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Manitoba’s Coal Rush by Bob Caldwell
Manitoba History, Number 23, Spring 1992

The Saga of Turtle Mountain Coal by Anthony D. Doerksen, 1971.

Mining in Manitoba by George E. Cole
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1948-49 Season


This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Ken Storie.

Page revised: 23 January 2021

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