Page 36 - From 'Company Town' to 'Labour Town'
ISSUE : Issue 37
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1
all the town councils and this statement effectively articulated the common concern of the coal towns: ... conditions in the coal mining industry have been such as to create wide-spread poverty among the miners as well as among the merchants and oth? er citizens dependent upon the miners ... render? ing almost impossible the performance of normal municipal functions through lack of income, and bringing to the verge of starvation many of our citizens, and causing to leave the town many of our most valued citizens. Each of the coal towns depended on the coal industry "for its very existence as an organized social unit"; unless there was a settlement of the industrial con? flict, the resolution appealed, "disaster will inevitably ensue." Three times during the 1920s the Canadian armed forces arrived in the coal towns to do strike duty, but the British Empire Steel Corporation's appeals for military aid received no support from the town coun? cils and only deepened divisions between corporation and community. On the first day of the 1922 strike, H. J. McCann, gen? eral manager of Dominion Coal, twice ap? pealed to Mayor Morrison to call out troops under the provisions of the Militia Act. Morrison issued public statements de? nouncing the use of troops as "unfortunate and ill-advised, and totally unnecessary." The town council endorsed his actions, pro? tested the use of troops, and repudiated the expenses. In New Waterford Mayor Ling rejected a similar request and the council stated "they did not consider there was any need of sending soldiers to the place." The refusal of the towns to endorse mili? tary action forced the company to turn to a county court judge for the necessary re? quisition. To ensure order in the coal towns during the strikes, however, the town councils on several occasions appointed large numbers of special police; these forces were drawn largely from the ranks of the veterans' as? sociation and the miners' union. In Glace Bay 250 special police were named in 1922 and 120 police in 1923, and similar forces were formed in New Waterford in 1922 and 1926. Under the authority of the town po? lice committees, the special police pa? trolled the towns and enforced temperance and orderly behaviour as never before. One former member of the special police in Glace Bay recalled: "All roads leading in and out of town were manned by this force day and night, and all cars entering town were searched for liquor. This, I am sure, prevented bloodshed in our town during the strikes of the 1920s." For the coal towns, the arrival of troops was not only an af? front to civic pride but also an assault on the civic purse. Under the Militia Act, the costs of transporting and maintaining the troops were charged to the municipal? ity. In Glace Bay bills from the Militia Department were ignored and never admitted into the town's financial records. Upon the receipt of one such bill, a rhyming re? ply to the Prime Minister aypeared on the front page of the Maritime Labor Herald. "Send the Bill to Besco," written by local poet Dawn Fraser, gave voice to community feelings: "ONE OF THE FOREMOST MUSEUMS IN NOVA SCOTIA' k. 'S.tJ' Visit an Underground Coal Mine The Miners' Museum Glace Bay, N. S. Bring your family to enjoy the once in a lifetime experience of touring an actual Coal Mine with a retired miner as your guide. After touring Museum and Mine, visit the well-stocked Gift Shop and the Miners' Village Restaurant on the same 15-acre site located just one mile from downtown Glace Bay. HOURS Museum and Miners' Village 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily June 11 until September 7 The Miners' Museum Welcomes Group Tours, and Is Open Year Round. For Information about Fall and Winter Hours PHONE (902) 849-4522 (36) Miners' Village Restaurant We are fully licensed and we feature a complete menu from sandwiches to full-course meals In the setting of a turn-of-the-century mining community adjacent to the Miners' Museum Complex OPEN JUNE 11 to SEPTEMBER 2 11 AM to 9 PM, Phone: 849-1788 QUARRY POINT, GLACE BAY • Professional Workmanship • Proven Products • Performance Guarantee Protect Your Investment Call SYDNEY VINYL SIDING • a dynamic local company serving the people of Cape Breton for 11 years. Sydney Vinyl Siding where "Quality Comes First" Sydnej} vbj'l siding ' Sales Limited 95 Johnstone St. 562-0421 Your ConiDlete Home Renovation Contractor
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