Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 36 > Page 62 - Early History of the Coal Trade Part 2

Page 62 - Early History of the Coal Trade Part 2

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1 (167 reads)

three inches in diameter, laid transverse? ly, close together, by strong, active young men, who were paid at a certain price per tub. Upon reaching the bottom of the shaft three of these tubs were emptied into a large tub which was raised to the surface, a height of about ninety feet, by a double-horse gin. At the top of the shaft the large tub was emptied into a shoot or hopper, from which the coal was discharged into carts containing twelve bushels. If a vessel happened to be load? ing at the time, the carts were driven o- ver a rough, shaky road, formed of round poles three or four inches in diameter, laid close together--the "Corduroy Road" of the colonies--to the wharf, where their contents were discharged into the vessel. When no vessel was loading, and also in winter, when the navigation was closed, the coals were deposited in a large heap near the wharf, over which the carts were dragged. As sometimes 3,000 to 4,000 tons were accumulated in one heap ready for shipment, it may easily be conceived that, after undergoing so many removals, with a final crushing by the horses and carts, the coal was reduced almost wholly to slack before it reached the vessel. Be? sides, as vessels drawing more than nine or ten feet could not load at the wharf, they had to anchor in the stream, and re? ceive their cargoes from lighters, by which means the coal was still further dam? aged. Taking all these things into consid? eration, it is not surprising that Sydney coal could not find a ready market. All the workmen of the establishment, con? sisting of overmen, mechanics, colliers, haulers, and labourers, in addition to their wages, whether by the day or by con? tract, were allowed rations of beef, pork. bread, and molasses, which were given out weekly. If a man was absent from his work, of course he had to pay for his rations; but whether a man worked faithfully or not, he received the same allowances, thus plac? ing the industrious and skilful men on the same level as the idle and ignorant. The working time, both in the pit and on the surface, extended from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., with an allowance of one hour for break? fast at 9 a.m., and the same for dinner at 1 p.m. All hands, being summoned to break? fast by ringing of the bell, abandoned their work and rushed to the store, whence each, having swallowed a glass of raw rum, went to his breakfast. The same process was repeated with regard to dinner, and a- gain at 7 p.m., when the day's work was done. Some of the men were engaged for four, others for twelve months, commencing on January 1. There were only two pay-days in the year--one for the four-months' men, on May 1, the other for the tweIve-months' men, on December 31. As the men, in the meantime, were not furnished with any ac? counts of their wages or purchases at the store, they generally found, at the final settlement, that, after paying for cloth? ing, stores, rum, 6cc., they had very small balances to receive. We need not wonder that, under this system, the lessees, as has often been asserted, made more profit by the sale of their stores than of their coal. All the men, except the two overmen and four mechanics, lived in two barracks or PHARMACIE ACADIENNE '.f. PHARMACY ' ARICHAT 226-2214 '- / ' Island View Restaurant Manigo 756-3300 Unique Dining ' i' ''' FULLY LICENSED Friday Evening Entertainment'''''' Reasonable Prices Eel Dishes * Ethnic Favourites Seafood * Char-Broiled Steaks & Chops Manigo Game Platter TRANS-CANADA HWY, WHYCOCOMAGH MICMAC INDIAN RESERVE (Furniture courtesy Bonnell-Lubetzki's, Sydney) The shop with a difference everything handcrafted by a local artisan Island Crafts Beautifully displayed children's toys, sweaters and accessories; fashionable hand-knit sweaters in a variety of colours and patterns; excellent weav? ing, quilts, unique pottery, handpainted jewelry, woodwork, Christmas display 'year round, and ever popular Cheticamp hooking. A complete souvenir line. OPEN YEAR ROUND: MONDAY TO SATURDAY, 9 TO 5; FRIDAY, 9 TO 9 Wholesale: full line of souvenirs 539-6474 329 Charlotte St., Sydney 564-5527 M Breton Oevelopme
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