Sparwood, British Columbia has a population of about 4,000, TRUCK-SHOVEL.COM (RW Consulting and Training Services) a consultant newly listed on InfoMine, and a short but fascinating history. I cannot resist repeating this:

Until 1967, there were three close-knit communities known as Michel, Natal and Middletown that had existed since the turn of the century. The provincial government decided that the coal-blackened towns were an unsightly entrance into the province, and so began the relocation to Sparwood, 4.5 km away. The bulldozers moved in, and all that remains of these three towns today is the Michel Hotel, a distinctive salmon-coloured building east of Sparwood. The people now live in a safer environment, and many are thankful for that, but the need to remember and cherish the rich heritage of these proud communities remains.

The official town website starts off with this opinion:

We think Sparwood's drinking water is the best tasting water anywhere. The water is drawn from wells all greater than 15m (50') in depth and is delivered to your tap at 5-8 degrees Celsius (+40-45 degrees Fahrenheit). Two primary wells are located near Mackenzie Springs and one in Sparwood Proper. The water supply is not chlorinated but does have a small amount of Fluoride added to the natural occurring amount to bring it up to 0.7 mg/l.

Back to TRUCK-SHOVEL.COM. That is the big heading. Actually it is RW Consulting and Training Services. They describe their mission as providing heavy equipment training services, and production and safety enhancement programs to mines and equipment companies. They offer training programs specific to heavy equipment use in open pit mining. Their most recent announcement:

Our New Simulator is in. The Simlog 320 Track Excavator Backhoe. We have a portable system available with an operator seat and joystick controls with digital projection video graphics. Available with instructor. This is the perfect no-risk way to learn how to operate a Backhoe.

As always there is more to it than the website lets on. So I contacted them and asked more about the company history and the folk who make it happen. Here is what they replied.

Our Facility is located in downtown Sparwood. Sparwood is the heart of the Western Canadian Coal Mining Industry. We have five big coal mines around us here (Elk Valley Coal Corp).

We have offices and small classroom / meeting rooms here. The permanent version of the Simulator is housed here as well and we have a portable model that we can take along on the road.

Our staff consists of 2 office staff and 12 trainers. The trainers are all retired or almost retired training specialists from the local mining industry with huge amounts of mining experience.

Our services are offered in 3 ways. (1) Trainers and consultants to mines internationally for operator training or BI (Business Improvement Practices). (2) Trainers to equipment manufacturers such as LeTourneau and P&H where training is part of the equipment sale or aftermarket package. (3) In house training programs for individuals or EI, WCB retraining programs on heavy equipment leading to employment.

There are very few companies that can offer these kinds of mining improvement packages and in these days when the boomers are retiring, the Oil Sands is hiring up all of the experienced labor, and companies are scrambling to get enough able people to keep operations running well. We are starting to see an increased demand for our services.

We are in the process of negotiating a possible joint venture with a major learning institution franchise in Canada. This should increase our presence here in Western Canada considerably.