Fernie & Elk Valley Culture Guide Issue 2 Fall 2016 - Page 7

MICHEL-MIDDLETOWN-NATAL MORRISSEY Michel was founded in 1897 and named after Chief Michel of the Ktunaxa Nation. By 1907, the settlement had spread up the valley and the village of Natal (known initially as New Michel) was established. Over time, Michel and Natal were joined by other neighbourhood communities — Middletown, Little Chicago, “Up the Valley” (the Elk Valley) and later, Sparwood. In the end it was the provincial government’s desire to beautify the southeastern entrance to British Columbia that doomed Michel and Natal. An urban renewal project for that purpose began in the late 1960s, moving most residents to Sparwood while the old communities were bulldozed and burned. Nothing remains of the former townsite.  The Morrissey mine opened in 1901. Thirteen kilometres south-west of Fernie, the remote location of the Morrissey mine resulted in the establishment of four communities: Morrissey, Morrissey Mines, Carbonado, and Swinton; quickly growing to a total peak population of over 1,500 by 1903. The mine company, deterred by several mine accidents and the unsuitability of the coal for coking purposes, closed the Morrissey mine in 1910 and abandoned the town. The townsite was reused briefly during World War I as an internment camp for ‘enemy aliens’ from 1915 to 1918. Today, only the coke ovens remain to be explored.   CORBIN Unlike surrounding coal mines, the Hosmer Mine was a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway and Hosmer began as a C.P.R. company town. Coal production started in 1908 and by 1910, over 1,200 people lived in what seemed to be a community with a bright future. In June 1914, the C.P.R. unexpectedly announced that the Hosmer Mine would cease production immediately. Technically, Hosmer is not a ghost town, as a population of over 100 and several businesses and community organizations still call the hamlet home. The Hosmer power house, coke ovens, and other ruins can be explored, as can the Hosmer cemetery. Corbin was founded in 1908 by Daniel Chase Corbin, president of Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway. The Corbin operations included one of the earliest open pit mines in the area. Corbin once boasted a population of 600. The town had its own railway, company store, and a hotel called the Flathead. The Corbin Collieries closed down their operation in 1935 and the the town was abandoned. Remnants of the coke ovens remain.   HOSMER 7