Annual breakfast a Mugford tradition in Glace Bay
A family breakfast at the Miners’ Museum Village Restaurant in Glace Bay Saturday morning isn’t just a Mugford tradition, it’s payback.
Once a year the 10 children of Audrey Mugford, 88, of Glace Bay gather together to take their mother to the museum for breakfast. And they come from near and far to do so.
“We think of our mother being a young woman in the Hub and getting breakfast for 10 kids and getting them out to school and then lunch, laundry with the wringer washer and so on,” said son Kevin Mugford of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
“What an exhausting job even on a day where everything went perfect.
“We take her especially to the Miners’ Museum because of our coal mining background. That’s our way of having our dad Roy who was a coalminer and died of cancer 22 years ago at the breakfast with us.”
The breakfast tradition began around 2006 and none of the children - now ranging in age from 52 to 67 - have ever missed it.
The origin of the family began 77 years ago. Audrey was only 17 when she met Roy. She said a friend introduced them and Roy invited her to a boxing match at the forum.
“They went way down to the front where people were fighting and I was way up in the rafters,” she said.
“I told him I wouldn’t be going out with him anymore.”
However love found a way because they married in 1947 when Audrey was 19.
Kevin remembers the family as chaotic but positive.
“It seemed like one of the siblings would have the skills to make porridge for 10 or toast for 10. It was a normal family of kids teasing each other and stealing each other’s toast. In the end it’s all we knew and it seemed to work.”
By 1963 Kevin said his mother had eight children and was pregnant with the ninth when his father was involved in a serious accident at the No. 20 Colliery in New Aberdeen.
“Dad was only in his early 40s and his legs were completely crushed - they thought he might not survive. In the end they came to my mother and said, ‘Audrey if they find him it’s not going to be pretty.’
“Mom said she was in panic mode – ‘How am I going to feed my children?’”
Audrey not only cared for their 10 children but her husband during his two-year recovery with both legs in casts.
After the kids got off to school she’d bring him downstairs.
“He’d come down the steps on his bum and I’d hold his legs up,” Audrey said.
“I’d have him in a big chair that I’d wheel out on the step.”
Roy received a cheque from the mine every month.
“I don’t ever remember going hungry,” she said.
“I remember once the church sent over a pair of white skates at Christmas time. That’s what my daughter wanted and they fit her.”
After they all left home the house was still never empty.
“After church they’d all be here for Sunday dinner,” Audrey said.
When asked how Audrey feels about her 10 children taking her to breakfast at the Miners’ Museum as a family once a year she replied, “They should stop it. I’m too old for this.”
On a serious note Audrey said her children are very good to her.
“To have 10 kids and all still alive, God is good.”
However the Mugford tradition doesn’t end at the table at the Miners’ Museum. During the once a year gathering a family Scat tournament is held in his brother Roy Jr’s garage in Glace Bay.
A total of 70 Mugford family members attend allowing seven tables of 10 players.
“Each table will have a final winner and those winners will have a playoff,” Kevin said while adding, “Mom does not get any special treatment.”
There are no tablecloths spread at this gathering.
“It’s all about hot dogs, coffee and tea,” Kevin said.
“We want to stick close to our roots. We survived what we had, it was all about relationships and family and it still is.”
Audrey Mugford, centre, 88, of Victoria Haven Nursing Home in Glace Bay, has some fun with her 10 children at the Miners’ Museum in Glace Bay. The family includes from left to right, Carson Mugford, Sydney River; Allan Mugford, Vancouver; Norma O’Brien, Reserve Mines; Kevin Mugford, Prince Albert, Sask.; Eric Mugford, Glace Bay; Jim Mugford, Sydney River; Monica MacDonald, Mira; Roy Mugford Jr., Glace Bay; Melvyn Mugford, Glace Bay and Charlene Matthews, Winnipeg. This morning the family will be at the Miners’ Museum Village Restaurant to treat their mother to breakfast, an annual tradition for years that none of the children locally or from away have ever missed.
The family of the late Roy Mugford and Audrey Mugford, lower right, in earlier years including front row from the left, Allan Mugford and Carson Mugford; second row from the left, Jim Mugford, Eric Mugford, Kevin Mugford, Norma O’Brien and third row from the left, Charlene Matthews, Melvyn Mugford, Roy Mugford Jr., and Monica MacDonald.