Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 56 > Page 52 - Bishop Plessis Visits Cape Breton, 1815

Page 52 - Bishop Plessis Visits Cape Breton, 1815

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/1/1 (618 reads)

sary articles and provisions for the trip to Labrador. They were put aboard the rowboat. Mr. Gaulin also went in it in order to watch the rowers who were responsible for effects which they could have abused. It was an act of pmdence. The rest, forming the laisger party, were left aboard the schooner and it was decided, there and then, that Captain Foret, after having loaded the coal, would sail for Arichat where he would wait for his passengers if they had not already ar- . rived, from there to bring them to Halifax where he would sell his coal. Before leaving the ship, the bishop had a cat put aboard and several mouse traps in the hope that the mice would be destroyed before he boarded again; this ever growing plague had become bare? ly endurable. We will see that this precaution was not sufficient. The Bishop and Messrs Lejamtel, Boucherville and Gauvreau went ashore to take the road to Little Brador. Passing before the mine, we stopped in order to have an idea how coal is exploited, and here is how it is done: A pit is opened in the form of a parallelogram, its opening being ap? proximately 6 feet by 12. It is dug in the same form and of the same width until coal is reached. Sometimes it is reached at 30 feet from the surface, other times at 60 or more, depending on the slope of the coal seam, which is not always the same. At the seam, there is more digging until it is gone right through. The coal thus dug out is re? moved in two tubs (both attached to the same wheel on the surface) and one goes up as the other one comes down. Those tubs are set in motion by the action of a constantly moving horse. The workers, having gone through the coal in its entire width at the bottom of the pit, begin to dig tunnels in all directions around them, which extend to one or two acres from the centre from which they started, and they continue to dig the coal from the thickness of the seam, which is nev- er more than 5 or 6 feet. They have lamps to light their area. While Tour Nova Scotia Government Bookstore Outlet in Cape Breton some cut the coal up, others place it in buckets which are dragged to the centre of the pit; others fill up tubs; still others empty them as soon as they reach the surface; others transport the coal in carts on a way which is not the milky way, or on a wharf from where it is shipped, or placed in an open depot where there is a large quantity of it, especially during winter when there is no exportation. One understands easily why such a large number of carts, horses, men and implements are needed to do all this work. Imagine 60 or 80 men in these subterranean tunnels, their feet in muck, heads in the rain, constantly threatened by the caving in of all that earth above them if, as well as taking the precaution of leaving pillars of coal from space to space, they did not also support the soil by means of posts, 5 to 6 feet in height, which hold up hardwood beams, usually made from cherry. These posts and beams are set up as the tunnel is dug out. Well! The workers employed to work at such a distance from the sur? face of the earth, and paid 4 to 5 shillings per day, seem as happy as criminals whose death sentence has been commuted to be doing this repugnant and hard work for a short number of months. The tubs bring them out at every meal time and then return them below. There are young men and heads of families who do this work for ten years and know no other craft. When they have excavated around a pit for as far and as deep as it is usual to go, they dig another one and be? gin the operation anew. At this particular mine, 9 or 10 such pits can be seen. The exploitation of each lasts approximately two years and it is not filled in when another one is opened. This lack of precaution can have disastrous results for passers by, especially at night, and there have already been accidents significant enough to demonstrate the danger. Unfortunately, the farmers, more interested in their profits than in the security of their neighbours, prefer to leave as is a public nuisance rather than spend money or employ their time in filling in I these dangerous pits. Cape Breton Books First-Rate Literature A Wide Range of Books from Popular to Scholarly "THE DOWNTOWN BOOKSTORE" 361 Charlotte St. Sydney B1P1E1 539-8551 and Lewis Parker Cards: PORTRAIT OF CAPE BRETON fflSTORY BOOKS ARE A GREA T GIFT ANY TIME OF THE YEAR liDva Scotian Information Look It Up In Our Books Ordinarily these pits are so close to each other that their re? spective tunnels criss-cross each other. Once there is an opening the workers are not allowed to use the tubs for their personal transportation; they are obliged to clamber up through one or the other of these tunnels for their meals and to return to work through the same route. The area surrounding Sydney is not the only place in Cape Breton where coal is to be found. It is found in large quantity in other areas and it is easily understood that those areas are not suitable for agriculture since coal dries out the land and renders it sterile. In certain places, it is not possible to plough without bringing out coal mixed with the earth in the furrows. With this in mind, how does one explain the government's obstinacy in opening only one mine in a country where 10 or 12 could be in operation simultaneous? ly? Suppose that only six were allowed to be opened, if their value was the same as the present one, provincial rev? enue would be boosted by 12,000 pounds. Is such an increase to be disdained? • Thousands of Interesting Facts • Becipes • Reports • Statutes & Acts • History • LitliograpluB • Maps • Fanqphlets We sell these and many more exciting and informative publications at Sages The Downtown Bookstore 361 Charlotte street, Sydney A free catalogoe listing government titles available from the Nova Scotia Government Bookstore, F.O. Box 637, Halifax, NiS. B3 J 8TS or by phone toll free 1-484-7880 ''m' Information Service J It is a proven fact that the current mine provides coal of a better quality than that which is imported from Scotland. It is equally true that it cannot possibly meet all the demands for coal from Hali? fax and Newfoundland. The navigators who bring it to those two places are sometimes obliged to wait 6 or 7 days in a row for their turn to load up, because they are more numerous than can be accommodated and they are admitted one by one, each in his turn. Add to this that the entrance to Spanish Bay (called Baye des Espagnols. today's Svdnev Harbour), where they must wait, is a poor anchoring where the sea is con? stantly agitated. Any other place would be more to their taste but they prefer this one only because of the huge profit
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