It’s pay­back

An­nual break­fast a Mug­ford tra­di­tion in Glace Bay

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE

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.”

SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/KEVIN MUG­FORD

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.

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