Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 37 > Page 34 - From 'Company Town' to 'Labour Town'

Page 34 - From 'Company Town' to 'Labour Town'

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1 (715 reads)
 

mining operations literally undermined the community. According to one report, the main intersection in Glace Bay, Senator's Comer, had fallen fifteen inches in a five-year period. When Dominion Coal of? fered to deed all company-owned streets to the Town of Glace Bay, the council was un? derstandably reluctant to assume liability for the future subsidence of the roads. The most serious conditions existed at Re? serve Mines, one of the small, unincorpor? ated mining settlements. In this community underground subsidence had cut off the wa? ter table in some sections of town, leav? ing the wells dry or filled with surface water. To remedy the problem, the company delivered water door to door by a horse and cart which travelled to a standpipe at the Glace Bay town limits. Doctors were a- larmed by the dangerous conditions in this district and public meetings called for ac? tion, but neither the company nor the coun? ty council was prepared to install the nec? essary water and drainage systems. In 1925 county medical health officer Dr. A. S. Kendall noted the obvious contrast between conditions in the county and the towns: "The Town Councils have done very well in One shot at an insulator can drop a community in its tracks. Some thoughtless people "just for the fun of it", use insulators for target practice. In fact, this happens a lot. I know because I'm a Power Corporation lineman, and it's my job to search for the cause of a power failure. People who shoot out insulators forget that a single shot can bring down a house, a factory, a hospital or even an entire city. That's why the Power Corporation offers rewards for information resulting in the conviction of persons responsible for damage to our property. So, if you have information concerning such an incident, please contact your local police or call the Power Corporation. I know just how important stamping out this crime is, my home is just as vulnerable as yours. nova scotia power corporation this regard. It is the County Councils that have not." Basic services in the incorporated towns were superior, as large capital expendi? tures were undertaken by the towns during the expansionist years and the services were often maintained by repairs. By the 1920s, however, existing services in the coal towns had become inadequate and the councils were besieged by complaints. In attempting to improve services, the town councils experienced considerable frustra? tion. The problems of divided authority ap? peared endless. When a delegation of resi? dents from New Aberdeen demanded repairs to a road in their neighbourhood, the com? pany claimed the street belonged to the town, and the town insisted the street be? longed to the company. Similarly, in 1924 the Town of Glace Bay, concerned by the drain on its water system, conducted an in? ventory of water taps and discovered the company was connecting houses to the water lines without authorization. Unlike municipal reformers in many urban centres, the labour councillors showed lit? tle interest in the principle of munici? pal operation of services. They be? lieved that in the single-industry town responsibility for some basic services should be assumed by the principal em? ployer. As a result, they sought great? er integration of the existing town and company utilities. In Glace Bay and Syd? ney Mines the towns failed to win com? pany support for plans to enlarge the water systems; as a result there were no major improvements in water services in the 1920s. In the case of power sup? plies, there was a revealing contrast in the policies pursued by councillors in Glace Bay where the labourites were dominant and by councillors in Sydney Mines where the middle-class council? lors were strongest. In Glace Bay the town had owned a small electric power plant since 1902. Rather than expand this operation, in the 1920s the town GEORGE: "Open 7 days a week, for your convenience. SHARON: "And for our profit." George's ENTERPRISES & LAUNDROMAT BADDECK DOWN NORTH The Book of Cape Breton's Magazine TO ORDER DOWN NORTH, SEE PAGE 29 Three Locations in your area ROBIN Cheticamp Main Store 224-2022 Inverness 258-2241 Cheticamp Furniture Store 224-2434 YOUR FAVORITE SHOPPING CENTRE FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS. Founded in 1766.
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