ABOUT ME

My name is Arlene Purcell.  I am a  recently retired, veteran high school teacher from Southern Alberta with a passion for reading, writing and drama. Over the course of my teaching career, I have produced and directed several large scale productions. Firedamp, a play I first wrote and staged in 1998 was by far my most ambitious undertaking. The story of the Coalhurst Mine disaster, a legend in the community where I taught for longer than I care to remember, captured my interest.  My journey to unearth the facts and to get a sense for the lives of those who lived through the experience has been longer than I expected.  First I spent hours buried in the archives pouring over what remained of the original transcript of the inquiry into the explosion.  Six hundred pages of testimony later, I was hooked. I interviewed individuals who lived through the disaster, getting first hand accounts of their experiences. The library became my favorite hangout as I examined microfiche files and read history books in my pursuit of both the facts and the stories that define a community.  It was clear from very early on in the process that the story needed to be told.  So, I told it.