Old Mac Coal Co

Roche Percee, Saskatchewan, Canada

Old Mac Coal Company Ltd.

1958 Ad
“High Grade Lignite”

Part of my Dad's 1927 map

The reason this Mine's location was important as time went by, and equipment became heavier, and harder to remove without dismantling it, is all of the mine was located on the south side of the Souris River. Crossing that river, or going down the steep bank along the river, is not going to happen with today's monster draglines, and environmental laws. I'm sure there is more coal down in the valley, but it can't be accessed due to the river. Of course digging in a valley, water would be a problem as well.

All the mines below are listed in my Lignite Coal Mine page

Originally called the Sutherland Mine

Dec 29, 1904, this mine was in development stage. It had no railroad spur, at that time, so output will be expected to be low.
It was owned by Hugh McKay Sutherland from Winnipeg. This mine became the Roche Percee Mining Co, then the Old Mac Coal Mine
1 mile south of Roche Percee today (2008) where most of the people lived at the time, at a mining camp there.

Prof. Alfred Selwyn says the owner was W. D. Sutherland, from Winnipeg, who had a tunnel in the 5ft seam, a level 78 feet in length, and 3ft wide.
Selwyn wrote that in spring of 1880 coal was barged down the river to Winnipeg. A pile of the coal was still at the site,
When Selwyn was there to drill test holes for the Geological Survey of Canada. the upper seam of the tunnel was 15 to 20 feet below the surface.


The Roche Percee Coal Mining Company Ltd. was formed. A subsidiary of Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Co..
It owned 1500 acres around the village of Roche Percee, where the tipple and buildings were situated.
they produced 200-280 tons per hour, when they were sold.

Company originally called “The Winnipeg Supply Company Ltd” incorporated Mar 6, 1904, 1912 changed to “Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Co.”

Neil Baker owned the Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company in July 1976, a Winnipeg investor, with dealings in just about everything, including Gordon Capital Corp.
He started out as the managing investor for Peter and Edward Bronfman. At one point he owned 10% of Hiram Walker distillers.
He wasn't born until the 1940's so he was not the original owner here.

Apr 1, 1950

The former mine here, the Roche Percee Coal Mining Co. Ltd., was bought by “Portal Coals Ltd.” which was a subsidiary of the 3rd largest American Coal Company,
the Sinclair Coal Company, from Kansas City, Missouri. In 1955 Sinclair merged with the Peabody Coal Company.
Peabody was the bigger Company, but Sinclair got control. Peabody was a wholly owned Subsidiary of Peabody Holding Co.
Sinclair kept the Peabody Coal Co. name, for it's New York Stock Exchange listing. Sinclair was started in late 1800's as a retail coal company, in Aurora Missouri area.
President Grant Stauffer, and L. Russell Kelce, controlled the Co. Stauffer died in 1949, and Russell Kelce took control as President.
When Peabody and Sinclair merged Kelce remained as President. He would have been the head of the company that owned the Old Mac Coal Company Ltd. Mine here.

Grant Stauffer and Lee “Russell” Kelce- bios below

50 men were laid off with the take over by Sinclair.
Sinclair leased land next to the existing Roche Percee Mine land.
Everything but the trucks were taken over by the new owners.

This was the start of the “Old Mac Coal Company” name. Old Mac was a name used by Sinclair Coal Co., as early as 1946 for a strip mine in Red Oak, Oklahoma.
They completely remodelled the coal tipple, brought in a massive 10 yard coal shovel, a Marion 360, for clearing the overburden,
and they used a small 3 yard shovel to load the trucks. They were planning on bringing in 9 new 25 ton trucks from their pit west of the village to the tipple.
New tipple was on the Eastern edge of the village. south of the CPR Soo Line. Fred Chilton was Mine Manager. They had already estimated at least 7-8 years of coal.
the new tipple could handle 6 cars at a time. 5 sizes of coal were separated. They had a new hopper, a new breaker, and a new crusher,
so whatever coal was required at the time, could be produced. This new tipple was double the capacity of the old one. Mid August 1961, they were testing the new tipple.
Joe Hirsch was the Tipple foreman.

There were 2 dealers for the coal:
Boon-Strachan Coal Co. Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company

John C. Doyle owned Boon-Strachan Coal Co.
A guy that was later charged with fraud and died in Panama.


The info in this next section is from the 1955 History Book, Page 9

So here we see they are operating in about 10 sections in Range 7, Township 1, West of Roche Percee

They were using 20 ton Ukes to haul the coal to the tipple in the village.

70 men were employed in 1955

July 14, 1956

Great West Coal Company of Brandon, President Donald S. Paterson, announced they bought Old Mac Coal Ltd., keeping the name of Old Mac.
they approved an option to Gulf Oil, to do some seismic work on their land. This was in the middle of the big oil boom at this time.

Dec 1958

2 pits were in operation, a Page 625 dragline was used in one, and a Marion 360, 10 yd shovel, in the other. (see link below for pictures)
Henry Krueger was in charge of an electric drilling machine, which bored holes in the exposed coal bed, in which dynamite was placed to break up the coal face for loading. the excavator teeth had to be changed twice a week. Sane Lambert was one of the welders.


Jan 6, 1959 there was a $500,000 loss fire. Fire early Tuesday morning, starting around 2:15 AM, destroyed the Tipple, Washroom, Shower Room, and Coal Treatment Plant.
A dozen railroad cars were burned when the building came down on them. Ted Krasilchuk was the night watchman at the time. Freezing temps caused frozen fire hoses.

Old Mac Coal was a subsidiary of Western Dominion Coal Company,
and they employed about 85 men at the time of the fire. 40 men were out of a job after the fire.

At the time of the fire, Old Mac was paying 65% of the Village tax base.

Jan 8, 1959

Lawrence Wood, Mine Superintendent announced a new tipple would be built, and he thought it would be built in the same location.
Coal was trucked directly to the SPC River Power Plant. They had a daily quota of 1,500 tons. The nightly trainload of coal to Winnipeg was cancelled.
That amount was to be drawn from their mine at Western Dominion. Mr. Woods claimed the coal could not be sent to Taylorton for processing.

Dec 1960

Louis Charles Abood was killed at the mine, age 49, born Oct 2, 1911 at Waldeck ON
He came to work at the Eastern Collieries
He married Katharine Carroll in 1938
He joined the army in 1941, returned in 1944.
Worked at the Eastern until it closed.
Then was hired at Old Mac.
He had 2 sisters, 2 brothers. Jan 1961

Old Mac Company was absorbed by the Parent Company, and became “Great West Coal Company
President - Donald S. Paterson DFC, (1918- May 24, 2006)
Managing Director, John Robert Brodie.

Paterson operated Paterson Grain, Winnipeg, at the time, Which was started by his father, Senator Norman McLeod Paterson.

Western Dominion Coal Company was moved from Taylorton to 4 miles east of Estevan, between Estevan and Bienfait.
With it went Old Mac Coal Company. Coal Seams were expended at Taylorton, and Western Dominion was closed end of Nov. 1960.
Mr. Klimax was moved to this new mine from Taylorton. Insurance money from the Old Mac Mine fire was used to construct a new tipple etc.
12 trucks at 40 tons each were used to haul the coal to the tipple. The new tipple was metal clad, and by pressing buttons, sorts, weighs, grades, and if necessary oils the coal, then finally loads the rail cars. 650 ton/hr can be handled. 9 tracks underneath, meant 9 cars could be loaded at the same time.
100 hp electric motor driven 4 ft wide, by 300 ft long conveyor belt was used. It employed 86 people. Offices, garages, and workshops were all constructed.
some of the living quarters were also moved.

Kenneth “Ken” John was Secretary

The mine was sold again and became the Klimax Mine

Pictures of the dragline and shovel they used can be seen on the Zieglgansberger Picture Page

Nothing can be found on Portal Coals Ltd. other than I am sure they had a connection with Sinclair Coal.
Was it a Canadian Front Company, owned by an American Company, when maybe an American Company couldn't own the coal mine?
From the Truax Traer page it was told to me the Government forced them to sell to a Canadian.
I'm not an expert of mine law, so I don't know.

Grant Stauffer
b- Dec 1888, Hope, Kansas
d- Mar 31, 1949, Manhattan Nursing Home, New York, New York, from cancer, age 60
He was President of the Chicago Great Western Railroad Company, the Sinclair Coal Company, and the Hume-Sinclair Coal Mining Company, when he died.
Also Treasurer of Sinclair Coal Company located at 1012 Baltimore Ave.
President Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
His estate was valued at $2,255,519.00, went into a corporate trust.
His wife and 2 daughters shared it.
wife- Gladys nee ?, b- Feb 12, 1889 in Kansas, d- Feb 1, 1976, age 86
2 daughters
Mrs. Sarah Jane (Phillip) Francoeur, Westport, Conn
b- 1918 in Missouri
Mrs. Dorothy Ann Lyddon, Santa Maria, CA
b- 1923, in Missouri

His father was b- in Pennsylvania, mother, Anna in Maryland
Gladys father- b- in Tennessee, mother- b- in Michigan

Grant Stauffer came to Kansas City, Jackson Co, Missouri, in 1911
Started out as a Coal Salesman.

Hellen Stauffer
Raymond Stauffer
Oscar Stauffer
Edna Stauffer

Lee “Russell” Kelce
Bio and Genealogy
b- Aug 5, 1897 in Pittsburg, Crawford Co. Kansas, USA
d- July 1, 1957 in a St. Louis Hospital, age 59
buried in Highland Park Cemetery, Pittsburg, Crawford Co. Kansas.

Russell's Father- David “Dad” Kelce,
b- Aug 7, 1868 in Bernice Pennsylvania,
d- Feb 1, 1965 in Pittsburg, Crawford Co. Kansas, age 96
buried in Highland Park Cemetery
David's father- b- Kansas, mother- b- Kansas
David worked in the PA coal mines at the age of 9
as a trapper boy in the Underground mines.
His family moved to Kansas when David was 17.
He developed one of the first coal mines in Oklahoma.
I know David had a sister named Jane, Aunt to Russell.

Russell's mother- Etta Kelce, nee ?, married Oct 5, 1896, celebrated 64th anniv on Oct 5, 1960
b- in Kansas
Her parents, father b- Kansas, mother- Illinois
David and Etta lived in St. Louis

Russell rose from the Kansas Coal Pits to run this Huge Empire.

had 2 brothers Merle C. “Merl” Kelce and Ted Kelce, who took over the business after Russell's death.
He was a 4th generation coal miner. Inducted into the USA National Mining Hall of Fame in 2000.
Chairman of the Chicago Great Western Railroad
He joined with Grant Stauffer in 1927

wife- Gladys A. Kelce, nee St John,
b- July 22, 1898, in Ohio,
d- Oct 1985
Her father and mother were born in Canada
son Robert Kelce,
b- 1929 in Oklahoma

Russell's siblings-
Marie Kelce- b- 1899 in Kansas
Lester Kelce- b- 1900 in Kansas
Ruth M. Kelce- b- 1900 in Crawford Co. Kansas
David L. Kelce- b- 1902 in Kansas
Irvie Kelce- b- 1903 in Kansas
Merl Kelce- b- June 20, 1905 in Crawford Co., Kansas, d- May 1970
Ted L. Kelce- b- June 29, 1901 in Kansas, d- Jan 24, 1979, age 77


  • Last modified: 2018/10/27 14:53
  • by dlgent