Book Review: Lawrence Chrismas’ Coal in the Valley

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Coal in the ValleyDrumheller Miner Photographs and Stories
by Lawrence Chrismas
Cambria Publishing / $34.99 / 120 pages / 95 duotone photographs / soft cover

Lawrence Chrismas has spent 30 years photographing Canadian coal miners. What started out as a data-collecting job right after university with the federal department of Energy, Mines and Resources became a photographic mission that, over the years, led Chrismas to mining communities all across Canada.  Coal in the ValleyDrumheller Miner Photographs and Stories is a collection of Chrismas’ portraits of the miners and sometimes their families. Chrismas also includes the miners’ stories in their own words alongside their portraits. Reading the individual stories of these miners—many of whom were born in the early 1900s (or 1884 even!)—and seeing their photo brings to life an important era of Canadian history with a specificity and personal perspective that is often missing in more general historical records. Chrismas currently has an exhibition, Coal Mining Stalwarts, at the Whyte Museum in Banff as a part of Exposure 2012.

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