The Pittsburg of Canada – Part II

Abandoned structure next to steel grain bin in “downtown” Bow City (September 2009).

With a mine at Bow City in full operation since 1909, the Prairie Coal Company Ltd. began to realize some success in promoting its properties to investors in North America and the United Kingdom. In 1910, nearby homesteader Daniel Scroggie opened a general store , the Bow City Trading Centre, along what was First Avenue (the Bow City Road). Scroggie was later joined by the Eyremore post office, which moved from its original location on the farm of postmaster W.T.P. Eyres to just down the street. A community hall, livery barn and scattering of residences soon followed.

Meanwhile, speculation continued about from where Bow City’s life line to the world would materialize. In January 1912, the Prairie Coal Company’s C.R. Henderson was again expressing his desire in the Lethbridge press to see a Lethbridge- Saskatoon rail connection link up with his property on the Bow. A month later in the Brooks Banner, speculation continued about the imminent arrival of the branch line from C.P.R. main line south:

“According to map of new railroad lines to be built in Alberta this year, published by the Winnipeg Free Press, Brooks is to have a line built by the C.P.R. running southwest to Coutts and striking Bow City. It is the intention to finish the line to Bow City during the summer. There is also another line projected to run north but work may not be commenced on this line this season.

The line southwest will prove of great value to the people living across the Bow River and while building at least will be a distinct advantage to Brooks, but when it is put in operation it will probably be of more benefit to Bow City than to any other town on the line…

It is predicted by some that Bow City may become a more important coal mining center [sic] than ether Taber of Lethbridge, and indeed this prediction does not seem to optimistic when one considers the fine quality of coal that is mined there and the lay of the country.”

A year later, news of another rail link penetrating the vast wilderness around Bow City appeared in the press. This time the Lethbridge Herald reported that it would be the C.P.R.’s new Suffield line that would provide the landline to Bow City’s stranded coal fields.

“Bow City is one of the places which will be put upon the map through the C.P.R. construction program for 1913. Many enquiries have been made today regarding the report that 22 miles would be build from Retlaw on the Kipp-Suffield line, in a northerly direction. It is to be assumed that this branch will extend to Bow City, which is on a direct line north of Retlaw, in Township 17, Range 17.

The reason for the construction of this line is to tap the coal fields at Bow City. For some time the Bow River Collieries Ltd., have been developing their mine there, and although it is a drift mine, about 1000 tons a month are being mined.”

However, it wasn’t until February 1913 when it finally appeared that the Prairie Coal Company and tiny Bow City had found their savior. On February 20, the Lethbridge Herald reported that H.N. Dunning, a New York capitalist, had agreed to obtain the charter for the Bow River Collieries Railway, and would build a line linking Bow City to the Canadian Pacific’s main line at Cassils before the end of the summer.  With the arrival of summer, work on the rail bed under the supervision of Lethbridge civil engineer R.E. MacArthur commenced, and after long last it looked as though the city on the Bow would cease to be a concept, and would finally become a reality.

It was during these heady times that the Canadian Pittsburg [sic] Realty Company of Regina and Herbert Chandler Pierce would arrive on the scene with a rival concept for Bow City.

Originally posted on

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