St. Rose-Chimney Coalfield

The St. Rose-Chimney Coalfield in Inverness County was mined for over a century. Today, the area has been reclaimed and returned to nature.

CHIMNEY CORNER

Mining in the coalfield started in Chimney Corner, likely because coal seams outcropped along the shore there, making it easier to confirm their existence and access them in the early days. However, except for a two-kilometre strip along the shore, most of Chimney Corner’s coal is under the ocean its coal seams were thin and difficult to mine.

In contrast, the St. Rose seams were faulted off (cut off) before reaching the coast so they were entirely onshore. They would prove to be both easier to mine and a greater resource. While there are five coal seams in the St. Rose-Chimney Corner Coalfield – numbered in order with No. 1 Seam nearest the surface - only No. 5 is a significant resource. It is about three feet thick in Chimney Corner but reached a thickness of eight feet in St. Rose.

The first coal mine in Chimney Corner started in 1867 on what we now call the No. 4 seam. Mining stopped in 1873 when a fire destroyed the surface buildings, including the miners’ quarters. A gale in August the same year also demolished the shipping pier. (The infamous August Gale, as it was called, destroyed 900 buildings and 1,200 boats in Nova Scotia, and killed as many as 600 people, according to reports.) The mine’s total production was less than 10,000 tons of coal.

In 1919, a slope (incline tunnel) was driven on the No. 5 seam at the Chimney Corner Mine but operations stopped in 1921 after producing only a few thousand tons.

In 1937, exploratory slopes were driven on the No. 5 seam about 3600 feet southwest of the Chimney Corner Mine and on the overlying No. 4 seam. In 1950, another slope was driven alongside the 1937 slope on the No. 5 seam.

The last documented attempt at mining in Chimney Corner took place in 1952 when a 90-foot slope was driven by the Margaree Steamship Company. Operations ceased in November after 70 tons were removed.

ST. ROSE

At St. Rose, a 3-foot seam was worked on MacLeod Brook prior to 1885.

Sporadic operations were conducted on the No. 2 Seam beginning in 1916. This was called the St. Rose Mine.

In 1945, Dean Evans started the Evans-St. Rose mine on the No. 2 Seam about 1700 feet south of the old St. Rose mine.

In 1950, Evans began to develop a mine on the No. 5 Seam, 1200 feet east of the shaft on the No. 2 Seam. This mine, called the Evans Mine, became the most successful in the area. Production was between 30,900-42,800 tonnes per year between 1985 and 1990, and it employed 40-45 people during that period. Its coal was used for power generation and heating homes.

Underground mining continued at the Evans Mine until 1992 when flooding forced it to close. The first reports of water troubles appeared in 1987 and pumping facilities were upgraded in 1988 but water continued to be a problem. There was also spontaneous combustion in an abandoned portion of the mine in 1992.

Over 1.3 million tons of coal were removed from the underground Evans Mine between 1950-1992.

Surface mining started in 1993 and the coal was trucked to Pioneer Coal’s facility in Stellarton for blending with other coals, and subsequently supplied to Nova Scotia Power for electricity generation. (Coal from different mines and/or from different areas within one mine are often blended to get the right technical specifications for a coal plant.)

Pioneer Coal mined the site until 2005 and reclaimed it, turning it into greenspace and ponds.

A 1.99-megawatt wind turbine is also now at the site, completing its transformation from a historical coal mine to natural lands and a generator of renewable energy.