June 19, 1914 (Hillcrest Mine Disaster)
The 189 coal miners who died in Hillcrest Mine's 1914 explosion are buried in mass graves, grouped according to the religious cultures of the mostly young and immigrant men.
On June 19, 1914, a massive explosion ripped through the tunnels of the Hillcrest coal mine. Of the 235 men working underground that day, 189 would die, making it the worst mining disaster in Canadian history. Most of the victims of the disaster were buried in two mass graves at the Hillcrest Cemetery. The cemetery has special grave markers for all of the men killed in the disaster, and interpretive panels throughout the cemetery tell the story of that fateful day.
A large granite monument at the entrance to the cemetery honours the men killed in the Hillcrest Mine Disaster. Smaller monuments list all other Canadian coal mining accidents.
The Hillcrest Cemetery is a designated Provincial Historic Resource. The Hillcrest Cemetery is an active cemetery that includes the graves of victims of the Hillcrest Mine Disaster of June 19, 1914 in which 189 men were killed. Although most of the men were buried in the two mass graves, there are other individual plots throughout the cemetery. Just outside the cemetery grounds there is a monument to the men who died in the disaster, and near the mass graves there are interpretive panels.
The two mass graves are located at the western end of the cemetery and are surrounded by metal fencing. Engraved interpretive panels near the mass graves tell the story of the town of Hillcrest and the disaster of June 19, 1914. Feel free to wander throughout this peaceful cemetery located below the scarred face of Turtle Mountain.
2014 will mark the 100 year anniversary of the mine disaster and special celebrations are planned. For details regarding the celebration visit this special site for details: http://www.hillcrestmine100.com/commemorative-improvement-project.html
The Hillcrest Cemetery is still active and is open year round to the public. Visitors are asked to be respectful of the site.
Once in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, turn south off of Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway) at the main Hillcrest Access (opposite Bellevue Centre Access). Follow the paved road, crossing the Crowsnest River. Take the right-hand fork approximately half a kilometre beyond the Crowsnest River bridge. Just beyond the fork, a Hillcrest Cemetery sign points to a gravel road that leads in short order to a parking area outside the cemetery fence. A large black granite monument to the miners who died in the disaster is located between the parking area and the cemetery entrance.