In the late 1800s, trees harvested in this area were selected for use as spars on ships.
A local railway stop, known as Sparwood, was created to load these specially selected logs onto rail cars. More than half a century later, when heavy pollution from decades of coal mining made the small communities of Michel, Natal and Middletown uninhabitable, a new town was anticipated at Sparwood.
Urban Renewal Scheme
Although the first homes had been built on the Sparwood townsite in 1939, it was a 1960s government sponsored urban renewal scheme that essentially forced residents to give up their Michel and Natal homes, often for less than adequate compensation.
Sparwood - a New Town
The village was incorporated as the district of Sparwood in 1966, while the villages of Natal and Michel were demolished and the land reclaimed in the 1970s. The last of the underground mines, the Balmer North, was deemed exhausted and boarded up in February 1986.
A family-oriented community, Sparwood has a stable blue-collar population, supported by more than 700 jobs in the nearby mines. In addition, there are several other companies operating in the mine service sector.
Hockey is a big deal in Sparwood, with teams of the Elk Valley Minor Hockey Association and teams from the mines competing for ice time. Summer outdoor activities include hiking, fishing and ATVing. In winter, the focus shifts to snowmobiling.