Bienfait Mines Ltd.

Bienfait, Saskatchewan, Canada

Bienfait Mine

Mined by: Bienfait Mines Limited, Bienfait Saskatchewan

also known originally as the Hawkinson Mine, the Hosmer Mine, and later Wilson Mine #1

  • Just South of Bienfait, near the CNR tracks.

D on this map above-
49 deg, 08’ 22.94” N
102 deg, 48’, 05.16” W

Dec 1933 Map of the “Big 5” Coal Mines near Bienfait

From my Lignite Mine page:

Hawkinson Mine:

Deep Seam Type Mine opened by the CPR in 1906, and leased to Maurice Hawkinson who managed it. Maurice is shown in 1911 census:

  • as a boarder of Albert Rogers family in Bienfait,
  • born Dec 1875, in the USA, age 35.
  • Nationality- Norwegian,
  • religion Presbyterian.
  • immigrated in 1908
  • Shown as a Mine proprietor.

Albert Rogers is shown as Hotel Keeper, block 3, which would be the King Edward Hotel. Interesting to note, Gordon White was a boarder here at the same time, and he bought the King Edward Hotel. Also at the hotel, Joseph A. Sequin shown as a mine manager.

Joseph A. Sequin, (probably Joseph Augustus Sequin)
  • b- Apr 1879 in Quebec, Catholic religion
  • father- Augustus Sequin, in 1881 living in Gatineau area, Quebec
  • Joseph Homesteaded, Mar 12, 1902, on NW Sec 16, Tsp 2, Rge 7, W2
  • NE same Sec was a Pierre E. Sequin, brother?
  • F. Sequin buried in Estevan City Cemetery
  • There is a Sequin district in Saskatchewan, maybe near Weyburn somewhere? 
  • There was a Sequin School 16 km NE of Creelman. Tsp 11, Rge 9, W2
  • Joseph's wife- Aminda, nee ?,  b- May 1889 in Quebec

Hawkinson sold power to the village of Bienfait, sold later to the Dominion Electric Co..

Operated until 1940.

Various owners,


Wilson Mine #2, Courtesy wilson-Cuddington collection

Alice Lynch, nee Ward wrote this about this mine

“The old “Hawkie” mine, straight west of Bienfait, was a major coal producing area for years. Built by Mr. Hawkinson, who also had a store in Bienfait, it employed a number of men until into the 30's. A large boarding house provided accommodation for the single workers while two to four roomed company houses provided for families. The boarding house doubled as community centre, with card parties and dances being held there”

She also says it was on the Eastern Half of Section 23

Photo sent to me by Mr. Ron Carpenter, Grand Nephew of Will Hamilton. This is a group photo of the Hamilton families at a SE Saskatchewan mine. Thanks Ron!

The Bienfait Mine owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway was opened for business in January 1904 per 1955 history book. Deep Seam Shaft type and was sold to Souris Coal Distributors,owned by J. R. Brodie, in 1939, under Western Dominion Coal Mines Ltd name.

J. R. Brodie was vice president of Bienfait Mines,per Estevan Mercury article on the Royal Commission after the 1931 strike. Joseph “Joe” Bembridge was Manager. Robert J. (Bob) Hassard was President (He was the 3rd child of Hugh Hassard from Roche Percee, Taylorton fame).

3rd largest mine in 1931, Part of the Big Six in the area at the time of the 1931 riot and strike. They owned the mineral rights, in Section 18 and 19, Tsp 2, Rge 6, W2. Tipple would have been in section 19

Operated from 1904 to 1940

Info below from a 1911 Mining Report

Bienfait Mine

This mine was owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, but in 1911 it was operated under lease.

It was situated about three quarters of a mile from Bienfait, on the Souris branch of the CPR, to which it was connected by means of a railway spur.

The coal seam averaged about 21 ft. in thickness, and lied practically flat.

Method of Mining

The room-and-pillar system of mining was used. The entrance to the mine was by slopes which were driven from the surface through the gravel and clay for a distance of about 350 ft. The coal was encountered at a depth of 60 ft. from the surface. The main entry was driven East and West from the foot of the slope. Pillars 20 ft. in thickness were left between the main and the counter entries. Side entries, 8 ft. by 8 ft., were run from the main ones and, from these, the rooms were opened off every 33 feet from centre to centre. The rooms are opened from the entry with a width of 8 ft. for a distance of 10 ft. and then widened out to a width of 16 ft. They vary in length up to 200 ft.

Ventilation

Cross-cuts for ventilation were driven through the room pillars every 60 feet. The ventilation was induced by steam pipes in the slope. No methane was found in this mine. The mine was generally damp.

Blasting Methods

Shooting off the solid was practised, and black powder was used. The shooting was done at 12 (noon) and 6 p.m.

Timbering

As the mines were situated at a long distance from where mine timbers could be obtained, the freight rates on the latter was high. Owing to this and to the fact that the coal was of a very low grade, the Operators, as a matter of business, used as little timber as they could, and, consequently, a low extraction of coal was obtained.


In 1924, William Lemond Hamilton was General Manager Robert J. Hassard, Manager. Slope mine, Steam Electric Power, Electric Cutters, Horses, 100 men.



And this mine was just as dangerous as the rest Mr. Charles Edward Dunn Bowland is killed, Dec 15, 1912 He had a Wife and 3 Children

A. Mercer was injured and crushed by a runaway car per Mar 7, 1922 article, he was in Miss Winteringham's Hospital in Estevan, in very critical condition.


In 1916 this mine produced 36,452 tons of Lignite Coal 3rd highest amount in the District


Nov 14, 1921 John Zolis died in the Bienfait Mine from a haemorrhage of the brain, declared a natural cause of death by a coroner's jury. Worked for 2 years in the Bienfait Mine. Left a wife and large family in Lithuania Funeral held at Taylorton buried in Bienfait Cemetery. name- John Zoles in newspaper article re coroner's report


Sept 22, 1920 they were trying to hire 10 miners