$24.95 CAD

Devil's Breath (The): The Story of the Hillcrest Mine Disaster of 1914

Steve Hanon 978-1-927063-29-3 | 344 Pages May, 2013 Accolades!, Ebook, History, Non-Fiction

Also available as an ebook from

About this book

  • Finalist for the Best Trade Non-Fiction Award at the 2014 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!

On a warm spring day in June of 1914, two hundred and thirty-five men went down into the depths of the Hillcrest mine, found in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass. Only forty-six would make it out alive. The largest coal-mining disaster in Canadian history, the fateful tale of the Hillcrest Mine is finally captured in startling detail by Steve Hanon.

A deft examination of the coal mining industry in an Alberta just on the cusp of entering the Great War, The Devil’s Breath is a startling recollection of heroism and human courage in the face of overwhelming calamity. Hanon examines the history of the mine itself, its owners and workers, possible causes for the disaster and the lasting effects that it had on those who survived, while educating readers on the techniques used to wrench coal from the bowels of the earth.

• 2013 interview with Shaw Cable in Calgary.


“Stephen Hanon has done much more than write the most comprehensive history of the Hillcrest Mine disaster-he has set the tragedy in its historical context. Richly sourced and amply illustrated, The Devil's Breath fills a void in the published history of this country.”

~ James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter "Hillcrest Mine"

"Superbly written, "The Devil's Breath: The Story of the Hillcrest Mine Disaster of 1914" is highly recommended and informative reading." (full review)

~ Midwest Book Review

"Well-illustrated, written with an eye for detail, and comprehensive, The Devil's Breath is not just a disaster story, but a history of Canada's coal industry and an invitation to go deep under the ground where calamity awaits."

~ Andrew Armitage, Owen Sound Sun Times

"Hanon did not set out to write a new story set in the context of Hillcrest, but to clear away the coal dust and give us a good look at the original story. That he does admirably." (full review)

~ Lorne Daniel, The Coastal Spectator

"Hanon provides a thorough account that is informative while including gripping tales of human courage." full review

~ Nelle Oosterom, Canada's History