Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 44 > Page 38 - Working on the Sydney Coal Piers

Page 38 - Working on the Sydney Coal Piers

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/1/1 (269 reads)

you didn't have the phones, but sometimes a word-of-mouth would come. But a man didn't want to miss a shift. That was one thing. (Why?) Well, they were just dedi? cated, and they were company to each other. When they got out to work, many times the men would be there--they'd talk all night about politics, or they'd talk all night a- bout this or that--it was a gathering, too. And when they worked, they enjoyed it, they enjoyed their work. I used to hear some of the trimmers down there singing Gaelic, firing the coal and singing Gaelic. So, they enjoyed their work, I think. (But it sounds like very difficult work.) It was, yes. But they never complained. They just went to work. Many times, they'd get a good drink of rum off the captain if they'd do a good job. That was a treat. When they were done with a shift, the cap? tain 'd come out with perhaps a big quart of rum, and they'd all get their nip, and, happy as larks, that's the way they worked. (So if a ship wasn't there, they weren't paid.) They weren't paid. (And when they were paid, what kind of money were they getting?) Well in the summertime, during a busy summer--now I'm saying around '35 and '36--a btisy summer, if they got $40, $45 a week they're big earners. But they got nothing in the wintertime. She was dead. They had to depend on the summer. $500 to $600 a year, that was a big salary. First There is margaree windows And now there's Liffie Brother WINDOWS What's the Difference? Margaree Windows I Lifetime Warranty I Heavy Duty I Competitively Priced I Custom Finish I Superb Quality with 50% More Wood More Information? Little Brother Windows ?? One Year Warranty ?? Lightweight ?? Lowest Price on Market ?? Custom Finish ?? Competes with any Window - except Margaree!! margaree p.o box6?i windows Sydney, N.S. BIP SHi Address Postal Code /V Every ship that came in, they could sell liquor. At times there, the boats were com? ing from the Virgin Islands--you'd buy a bottle of rum for a dollar. And you'd buy a carton of cigarettes for 600. I guess that's why the Pier--everybody liked it. Perhaps your wages weren't high, but you got a few other benefits. And there's other ships used to come in here, they used to carry from Montreal to South Africa--that was their run. And they had an all Indian crew. So they'd come in here for just bunker on the way up to Mont? real. And they'd perhaps load a general cargo up in Montreal for India and South Africa. Then when they'd come back, all the Indians would save all their jam and their marmalade and their pickles. And the shippers and trimmers, they'd save their quarters, so you'd buy a gallon of jam for a quarter. They're in the big tins. So that was kind of another thing that they used to benefit by. Everybody had their jam and their pickles and their cabbage, you know, in the big bottles. They used to have their winter supply. And the boats loading grain in Montreal, coming in for bunker--they'd always have so much grain spilt, when the boat was ' done. And the sailors used to sweep the grain up and perhaps put it aside and bag it. Then they'd buy their grain for per? haps 25o a bag from the sailors. It was no good, anyway. It was good for hens and that. So, there were little benefits all around everywhere, (It would have been better, of course, if they earned a decent wage • ) Yeah. But in the steel plant before '35, I think it was Keddy's Motor Inn 600 King's Rd., Sydney, N.S. 223 Rooms Air Conditioned Colour Cable TV Licensed Dining Daily Features Resitaurant Hoursj 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ' Featuring Cape Breton's Only Complete indoor Recreation Facility • • Pool • Sauna • Whirlpool Bath • Oasis Pool Bar • Games Machines ENTERTAINMENT & DANCING NIGHTLY AT IVORY'S LOUNGE For Reservations Phone 539-1140
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