On April 29, 1903 at 4:10 a.m., an enormous mass of limestone broke loose from the front face of Turtle Mountain and hurled itself into the valley below where the town of Frank lay sleeping. It slid down the mountain breaking into pieces that ranged from tiny shards of rock to enormous boulders the size of a small house. The exact cause of the slide is still unknown, but scientists believe that weather, the formation of the mountain, and possibly mining activity contributed to the slide. The slide buried only a portion of the town of Frank, and despite the fact that ninety million tons of rock fell in just ninety seconds, some of the people in the path of the slide survived. This was primarily due to the fact that the houses were on the edge of the slide, and were hit by rock and mud picked up as the slide crossed the river. Not all of the buildings were entirely buried. Most of the the approximately 100 people in the path of the slide were killed. Frank Slide is Canada’s deadliest rockslide.
Cathy has also written a teacher’s guide for Shadows of Disaster, which is available from Ronsdale Press. It consists of an overview of the novel and its principal characters, chapter questions that can be used as a jeopardy game, and diverse post-reading activities. It also includes background information about the Frank Slide, the Crowsnest Pass, and the early coal mining industry.
Additional information about Frank Slide can be found at:
- Frank Slide Interpretive Centre
- Natural Resources Canada — includes a 3D map of the slide on page 3
- Atlas of Canada
- The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Crowsnest Pass, Frank Slide Memorial Grave
- Crowsnest and its People
- Coal Association of Canada
- Glenbow Museum: Archives
- Landslides and Avalanches in Canada
- The Day the Mountain Fell