History & Heritage

Job Description: These large, powerful draft horses are used to pulling heavy loads.

Pit Ponies, Pit Horses, pit pony history, miner Ceri Thompson, Canadian Coal Mining history, Sable Island, underground stables, Underground haulage, Coal Mining Canada

The human race has long had a love affair with coal. Coal is a fossil fuel that started forming in the Carboniferous Period 359 million to 299 million years ago during the Paleozoic Era.

Traversing Canadian Rockies, Tania Millen, holidays on horseback, Alberta pack-trip, Azure Lake, Sulphur River, Jasper National Park, Summit pass, crossing Chown Creek

“Whoa up,” I called. One of the pack horses had broken loose and was causing havoc in our seven horse string. It was the first day of a three-week pack trip and all the horses were antsy, particularly my Spanish Mustang, Chocolate. He wasn’t happy being tucked in behind horses he didn’t know, leading one he didn’t like. I hopped off Chocolate and foolishly left him loose, breaking one of the golden rules of backcountry travel: always hang on to your horses.

Welcome to the album of winners, runners-up, and honourable mentions in our 2017 Celebration of Horses Photo Contest. This year the selection of photos was outstanding in all six categories, making judging rather challenging and a whole lot of fun! Our sincere thanks to everyone who shared the special moments and memories of their beautiful babies, beloved equine friends, and hardworking partners – and congratulations to the winners.

northern lights, aurora borealis, yukon horse, modern Equus,

It would be some 700,000 years before Duane Froese, an earth sciences professor with the University of Alberta in Edmonton and his team excavated a metapodial (cannon) horse bone from permafrost in the Thistle Creek gold mine in west-central Yukon in 2003. The team was hunting fossils embedded in permafrost while gathering data on the sediments that preserved them. Many other horse fossils found in Yukon had been pony-sized, but Froese and his team knew this find had come from a larger horse.

Horses and oxen have been used to haul logs since pre-industrial times. Much of it was small scale harvesting, but it was hard and hazardous work. Unstable and snagged trees, falling branches, and loose material were the “widow makers” of a rapidly growing but dangerous industry. But as settlers arrived in Canada, more land had to be cleared for home-building, farming, and travel. Ultimately, horses and oxen were replaced with machinery and logging trucks. But today, some people have kept the heritage of horse logging alive.

Ever since the wheel was first invented around 3,500 BC in Mesopotamia as a wooden disc with a hole in the middle for some form of axle, creative Sumarian minds were buzzing. They were, after all, already planting crops, herding animals, and had a pretty impressive social order. But getting the wheel contraption right took a bit of creative genius. The holes in the centre of the disc and at the ends of the axle had to be perfectly smooth and round in order for the wheel to fit and turn. Otherwise, too much friction would cause breakage.

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