Coleman in 3 Parts: 1. The Town

Today's history lesson was at the little town of Coleman, a National Historic Site.

To prepare for the 3 mile walk into town, we stopped at our first Tim Hortons, a tasty part of Canada since 1964.
We only learned about this unique eatery while watching How I Met Your Mother. This was the perfect, and delicious, place to fuel up for the morning. The nutty treat is a Nutella® doughnut.
Afterward, we embarked on the Crowsnest Community Trail, a non-motorized route that meanders through all five communities in this region.

It was rather scenic.
These are the remains of the coal plant, with cut-stone buildings from the early 1900s. 

To be designated a site of national significance is something rare and special. The Coleman National Historic Site encompasses much of the old town of Coleman – its surface mine plant, the old downtown, some of the older residential neighborhoods, and the railway - which preserves the atmosphere of a western Canadian mining town between 1905 and 1950.
Coleman is a town built because of coal. The International Coal and Coke Co. had acquired 5,300 acres and it was incorporated as a town in 1903. Deeds for the lots carried a liquor prohibition to last for 15 years (this will be discussed in my next post). The goal was to make this a town in which families would like to reside.
Nearby are the ruins of Coleman’s coke ovens (216 of them), a landmark that often burned bright into the night, until 1952. By the way, for those who don't know, coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Right?
Our first stop was for a little local military history at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall (1926)- Alberta's first!

As we strolled, we found not one but TWO Little Free Libraries. I knew we were in a good place when there are free books on the streets!

This is a private home now, but it was the fire station built just after the big fire of 1905.
I love this building. The Roxy Theatre was built in 1948, after fire destroyed the old opera house. The building was constructed in two sections. The front section is wood frame with brick, and has a wrap-around neon marquee. This section housed the ticket booth, and the popcorn machine, said to make the finest popcorn in the district. The second component is a corrugated steel Quonset, housing the 338 seats, screen, and ventilation system. The building was home not only to movies, but also to performances by the local symphony orchestra, and special Christmas shows for kids. Located on Coleman's main street, the theater was an integral part of the small town's streetscape.
I have to say that the Coleman Historical Society has done a wonderful service for us who enjoy discovering history while we stroll. They mounted plaques on many of the great buildings with photos of then, with their historical significance. I thought this was pretty cool. The Grand Theatre opened here in December 1921, and presented motion pictures, live theater, music concerts, and sporting events such as wrestling. The theater was purchased in 1932 for conversion into an automotive service garage, which required considerable building modifications.
The Motordrome was a full-service garage that also displayed cars for sale. So dang cool.
And lunch was at Chris' Restaurant. We ordered a cheese burger, a deviled egg salad sandwich and poutine, a dish originating from Quebec, made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy. While our particular poutine was curd-less (they substituted shredded cheddar), it was still delicious. We will continue the search for the best of this decadent dish throughout Canada. Someone has to do it! Fun day in Coleman.

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