TAKE A STEP BACK IN HISTORY
Travel through time and experience life as the miners and their families did as you tour one of the six mine sites built to extract the vast and valuable ore deposit named “Wabana” by Thomas Cantley,then secretary of Nova Scotia Steel and Coal, a name thought to be an Abenaki Indian word meaning “the place where daylight first appears.”
Learn about the first miners in 1895 and how they had to shovel the heavy ore into 20 or more trolley cars every shift, a truly backbreaking task. Hear the many stories about the famed mining horses, like Jackson, the last horse to come out of #3 Mine where he had spent most of his adult life, pulling the heavy trolley cars to the base of a hoisting slope where the ore was eventually shipped to Sydney, Nova Scotia where it was smelted in a giant steel mill or transported as far away as the United States and even Germany.
If wartime history interests you, learn about Bell Island’s place during the Second World War.tour guides, some of which are direct descendants of the Wabana miners, will take you back in time, allowing you to you to experience the terrifying German U-boat attacks in 1942 and the torpedo attack on the island, which is actually the only location in all of North America to see an attack during the War. See the actual medals of the German commander of the U513 that torpedoed and sank two ore ships just off Bell Island.
If you are looking for a real look into the workingman’s culture and history in Newfoundland, a trip to Bell Island should be on your must-see list.the Bell Island mines became one of the largest producers of iron ore in north-eastern North America, extracting almost four billion tons of ore from its shafts that extend far beneath the seabed of Conception Bay, creating one of the most extensive submarine iron mines in the world.
The museum and mine tour are open until Sept.30 and run daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., although the last tour leaves at 5 p.m. For rates and to book your tour, visit the museum’s website at www. bellislandminetour.com or calling (709) 488-2880. A few tips for visit: wear a warm jacket and comfortable shoes and take a taxi across on the ferry instead of your car — it is faster (line ups for car crossings can get long during the summer) and less expensive.