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Page 63 - Early History of the Coal Trade Part 2

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1 (738 reads)
 

cook-rooms (as they were called), where they took their meals and slept in the same apartments. Their sleeping berths were ranged along the sides of the two rooms in tiers, one above another, as in a ship. It may easily be imagined what sort of a place the cook-room was, where forty men ate, slept, and washed--when they did wash, which was only once a week--in a sin? gle apartment. In winter, it is true, they had abundant means of making it warm e- nough, which is about all that can be said in its favour; in slimmer it became so very lively that most of the men preferred sleeping during the fine weather under the spruce trees in the vicinity. It could hardly be expected that either harmony or good order prevailed in two rooms occupied by eighty or ninety men under such condi? tions , where all were upon equal terms and free from restraint. Brawling and fighting seemed to be the order, or rather the dis? order, of the day, from Monday until Satur? day, Sunday being truly a day of rest, which, strange to say, was devoutly ob? served. The writer, who had the misfortune to occupy a house for more than twelve months about 100 yards from the cook-rooms, can testify that he rarely enjoyed an un? disturbed night's rest during the whole of that period. Neither did the external aspect of the es? tablishment in any way counterbalance its moral deficiencies. No improvements had been made upon the 400 acres of excellent land belonging to the mines; the roads were scarcely passable, and of houses there were none, except the workmen's bar? racks, half-a-dozen log and sod huts occu? pied by the overmen and mechanics, a coup? le of storehouses, and an old framed house, perfectly innocent of paint, belonging to the managing lessee of the mines. There was neither a school-house nor place of worship, except a small Roman Catholic chapel in the vicinity, where the priest from Sydney officiated once, or perhaps tiwice, in the course of a year. Such was the dilapidated condition of the Sydney mines when they came into the possession of the present lessee (General Mining As? sociation) on January 1, 1827. All that had been done was worse than useless, as the property, instead of being improved, was seriously damaged. About seventy-five acres of the main seam had been worked out, leaving the pillars behind, which, owing to the settling of the roof, could not be recovered. To show the wasteful, reckless way in which the works had been conducted, it need only be stated that from seventy- five acres of a six-feet seam, which ought at least to have yielded 500,000, only 275,000 tons had been raised since the mine was commenced in 1785. (This is a slightly THE ISLAND OF CAPE edited chapter from Richard Brown's THE COAL FIELDS AND COAL TRADE OF apte 5717 BRETON, 1871. Part One appeared in Issue 35, CAPE BRETON'S MAGAZINET WE WANT TO HELP YOU! Canada Health and Welfare Can? ada's Income Security Pro? grams Branch offers many programs and services to Canadians of all ages. In? formation on these can be found in the brochures shown here. Please give us a cail or write for copies: Income Security Programs District Office 58 Dorchester Street Sydney, N. S. BIP 5Z1 Telephone: 562-5809 1' Income Security Programs Programmes de la security du re i (63)
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