TOWN TRA­DI­TIONS

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­post.com

Min­ers share their sto­ries with stu­dents.

Coal min­ers asked some Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre stu­dents to keep their sto­ries from the depth of the mine alive.

On Tues­day, lo­cal min­ers Gary Mi­chol­sky, Car­man Hughes, Bill MacPher­son and Blair Smith gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on their life in the coal mines, or­ga­nized by the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Li­brary and held at the New Water­ford Se­niors and Pen­sion­ers Club.

“We want this gen­er­a­tion to con­tinue telling our min­ing story,” said MacPher­son, a for­mer miner of 30 years. “We were very lucky we were part of that, it’s our legacy of the min­ers, farm­ers and fish­er­men of this com­mu­nity.”

Billy said they stressed to the kids how the min­ing com­mu­ni­ties joined to­gether and made the com­mu­ni­ties what they be­came, build­ing the schools, hos­pi­tals, etc.

“They were the pil­lars of the com­mu­nity along with the farm­ers and the fish­er­men and teach­ers.”

MacPher­son said they asked the stu­dents in at­ten­dance how many had min­ers in their fam­i­lies and ev­ery one raised their hand.

“Their fa­thers and grand­fa­thers were min­ers, but to­day not one of those kids will be as­so­ci­ated with a mine when they get older. There are very few who could be as there are no mines around at all.”

Tracey Wil­son, as­sis­tant pro­gram­mer for the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Li­brary, has ar­ranged a few pre­sen­ta­tions be­tween the min­ers and stu­dents, in­clud­ing re­cently in Do­min­ion. She said it’s im­por­tant the young gen­er­a­tion re­al­izes the sac­ri­fices the miner made, how it im­pacted their fam­i­lies and the dif­fer­ence they made in the com­mu­nity as it’s part of their her­itage.

“I thought New Water­ford is a min­ing town so it would be good to of­fer there.”

She said as well it’s good tim­ing as this year marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the New Water­ford min­ing dis­as­ter.

On July 25, 1917, an ex­plo­sion oc­curred in the No. 12 Col­liery, killing 65 min­ers be­tween the ages of 14-65

Devon Ma­cLean, a Grade 10 student at BEC, said his grand­fa­ther worked in the coal mines but died when he was only about two years old so he never heard any of his sto­ries.

How­ever, he said the min­ers ex­plained the im­por­tance of keep­ing these sto­ries go­ing.

“That we should keep telling the sto­ries to keep on the legacy in New Water­ford,” he said.

“The con­di­tions were ter­ri­ble, very un­safe.”

Ethan Camp­bell, also a Grade 10 student, said both his grand­fa­thers worked in the coal mines, how­ever, one died be­fore he was born so he has well never heard much about their lives in the mines.

He said lis­ten­ing to the pre­sen­ta­tions Tues­day makes you re­al­ize how hard of a life it was and the hor­rific con­di­tions.

“He said the sto­ries have been passed on about 300 years and need to be kept go­ing.”

Artist Amanda MacAu­lay, whose grand­fa­ther was a miner, had some of her min­ing art on hand.

“Their fa­thers and grand­fa­thers were min­ers, but to­day not one of those kids will be as­so­ci­ated with a mine when they get older.”

Bill MacPher­son

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

From left, Devon Ma­cLean, a Grade 10 student at Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in New Water­ford, tries on a min­ing hel­met while sit­ting with Ethan Camp­bell, also a Grade 10 student, lis­ten­ing to for­mer min­ers Blair Smith, Car­man Hughes and Bill MacPher­son, all of New Water­ford, fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by the min­ers or­ga­nized by the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Li­brary and held at the New Water­ford Se­niors and Pen­sion­ers Club on Tues­day.

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