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.”
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.