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Hillcrest, like many of the towns in the Crowsnest Pass region, developed during the coal industry boom in the early 1900s. The shelter of the valley, nearby streams, and proximity to coal deposits provided an ideal place for a new community to grow.

Today, the town forms one of Crowsnest Pass’s vibrant community groups for a town deeply connected to its past and its fellow townships.

In June of 1914, Hillcrest saw the worst coal mining disaster in Canadian history. Half of the Hillcrest Mine’s total workforce perished in an explosion that collapsed the entrances to the mine.

The tragedy was so substantial that King George V of England sent condolences to the town on behalf of the British Royal Family. The towns of Blairmore, Frank and Coleman rushed to the aid of the community, banding The Pass together to rescue survivors and console over 130 widows and their children.

The town united following the disaster, and has grown to be a small, tight-knit community that represents the comradery that The Pass is known for.

The mine site today is a popular hike, featuring ruins and mining artifacts to provide glimpses of a prosperous coal town of another era. Beyond these historical sites are the Lundbreck Falls, where the Crowsnest River cascades into a spectacular waterfall close to the nearby town of Lundbreck.

Each year, Hillcrest partners with the town of Bellevue to present ‘Bellecrest Days’ close to the anniversary of the disaster. The communities gather to remember the history of the town and pay tribute to the lives that were lost.

The festival is family-friendly and includes a parade, fundraisers and other community events. The dance performances, bike parade and local food purveyors are not to be missed, and highlight the strong bonds between the five towns of The Pass.

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Photo: Travel Alberta


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