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Coal Town Kids cover

  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-03-914485-9
    • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 228 pages
  • Hardcover Edition
    • 978-1-03-914486-6
    • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 228 pages
  • Keywords
    • Crowsnest Pass,
    • Alberta history,
    • Bellevue,
    • Coal mining community,
    • Personal memoir,
    • Canadian history,
    • 1950s

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Coal Town Kids
by Duane S. Radford

Duane Radford and his friends from childhood reminisce about growing up in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta (lovingly called “the Pass”), when the area’s coal mines were active. Set on the edge of the Canadian Rockies, in southwestern Alberta, the Pass includes the small towns of Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore, and Coleman—all along Highway 3. In the 1950s, the Pass was a hard place for people to make a living and most faced adversity, relying on their own resourcefulness to survive. The community itself was largely made up of immigrants from many different countries, some of whom were escaping their war-torn homelands. Despite the hardships of working in the mines, the Pass offered an idyllic lifestyle—one of outdoor adventures, clubs, social engagements, and excursions—built around a strong sense of community. Though several people have contributed stories to the book, it is largely narrated by Duane as he follows his family’s arrival to Bellevue after World War II, and his experiences living there until 1963, when his family moved to Calgary, Alberta. With not much written about the area, Coal Town Kids is the first substantive nonfiction account dealing with the Pass since 1952.

Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass is a place of sweeping history, stunning landscapes and compelling intrigues. Duane Radford has written a very personal rendition of the post World War II era of the Crowsnest Pass, using the stories of his family and their neighbors. It speaks to and is a reminder that our future is not divisible from our past and personal histories form important milestones to reflect on. The stories in “Coal Town Kids” are poignant, entertaining and shine a light on a time before much of what we now consider essentials would not have been normal fare. This era was one of tough, hard, poor times. Yet, despite the challenges these are stories of a time well lived by children who knew no different. Crowsnest Pass communities may have lacked wealth and amenities yet, for a kid growing up, were vibrant places filled with opportunities and experiences. Duane’s book also provides insights into the impacts of past coal mining and perspectives on how that land use may still grip the Pass psyche. This book is a slice of pure, authentic Canadiana. Lorne Fitch, Author and Professional biologist

Duane S. Radford photo

A multiple award-winning writer and photographer, Duane Radford has written 1000+ magazine articles, newspaper travel articles, and fish and wild game recipes, plus nine books, five of which are award-winning. His most recent book, published in 2021, is the Canadian Outdoor Survival Guide. Duane started freelance writing and photography in 1995 and is currently a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife, Adrienne.


Duane S. Radford

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