Families in the Souris Coalfields, 1925-1935
Morier, Christopher David
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This study of families in the Souris coalfields in southeastern Saskatchewan in the 1920s and 1930s argues that women and children in the mine communities were active and enterprising individuals. In the absence of modem-day conveniences and comforts, families in the mine camps devised a variety of strategies and techniques for survival. Perseverance and hardiness marked these coal families, and a strong and able wife and mother was vital to a family's independence, empowerment, and survival. Such women were commonplace in the Souris coal camps, and mining families were characterized by an ability to adapt, respond, and adjust to demands and circumstances of the mining lifestyle. Interviews with ex-coal camp residents provide much of the information in this study. While historians of deep-seam coal mines across Canada are quite correct in emphasizing the grueling, dangerous, and demanding working conditions of the underground miners, coal communities above-ground deserve recognition as dynamic and active entities as well. Traditional labour-focused examinations of the coal industry fail to acknowledge that male miners were members of a minority group in the Souris coal camps - women and children made up the bulk of the population, and played important roles in the communities. These camps were home to hundreds of hardworking and practical families, and this thesis recognizes the independence and tolerable lifestyles that these families strove to achieve.