Page 37 - From 'Company Town' to 'Labour Town'
ISSUE : Issue 37
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/8/1
Your bill for those toy soldiers was received, oh, Mr. King, But does that few odd thousand cover everything From the time of the invasion till the time they went away • Is just three hundred thousand all we have to pay... But it grieves us to inform you we're a little bit hard pressed. And we have an empty feeling in the region of our vest... So I fear this little item will have to wait a while; But we hasten to assure you we will place your bill on file. Ain't it something awful how long some bills will run? I remain, yours most sincerely, Dan Willie Morri? son. The nature of class conflict in the coal towns tended to unite most members of the community around the interests of the work? ing-class population. Most local busi? nesses were tiny ones: in Glace Bay more than half the businesses rated by R. G. Dun and Company in 1926 were worth less than $2,000; ninety percent were worth less than $10,000 and none exceeded $50,000, Few businessmen could abandon the distressed towns, for their capital was committed and they had extended thousands of dollars in credit to their coal miner customers. Concerned over the economic fu? ture of the towns, middle-class citizens directed their greatest hostility towards the corporation. As the town of Sydney Mines plunged into virtual bankruptcy, re? lations between company and community grew embittered. "This Company had its very fat years," former mayor Senator John McCor? mick told a public meeting, "it would be a breach of faith for these concerns to break faith with this and other towns." In the 1925 strike citizens' committees in Glace Bay and Sydney Mines, composed of leading clergy and businessmen, supple? mented the union's efforts to collect re? lief and promoted the resumption of nego? tiations between company and union. In Glace Bay businessman Stuart McCawley pub? lished a popular pamphlet, Standing the Gaff: The Soreness of the Soul of Cape Breton. The pamphlet strongly attacked the management of Besco and supported the coal miners: "Every element in our commun? ity is behind the men. The miner, by his clean, decent stand has won the respect and confidence of all people." However, there were also differences in the views of the labour councillors and middle-class citizens. Ratepayers objected to increases in property taxes imposed by the town councils. In 1921 a proposal to disenfranchise poll-tax payers, who outnum? bered the ratepayers, gained some atten? tion in Glace Bay. In 1927 Sydney Mines town clerk D. C. McDonald proposed a sub? stantial property qualification for town councillors: vigorously attacked by Mayor LES TROIS PIGNONS Cultural and Community Centre Free Historical Tours History of Acadians and Rug-Hookingi Library (Books and Records) Offices of LA SOCIETE ST-PIERRE (902)224-2612 P. 0. BOX 430, CHETICAMP, GALERIE ELIZABETH LEFORT A Display of the Magnificent Tapestries of Dr. Elizabeth LeFort and Rug Hookings by Other Artists BOE IHO (902)224-2642 MR. TIRE LTD. Specializing in 267 Prince Street C iJilJll'l Sydney The Radial Tire People Fully Equipped Mobil Unit 539-5670 Railings Fire Escapes Room Dividers Spiral Staircases Wrought Iron Furniture 564-2075 Sydport Industrial F'rk The Iron Shop Ltd. l'PT c ZJke Sky.e 'otor J4otel COMFORTABLE ROOMS Cable Colour TV, All Conveniences LICENSED DINING ROOM Featuring Steak & Seafood Open from 7 A.M. till 11 P.M. LARGE GIFTSHOP (902)625-1300 P.O. Box 190 Port Hastings, Cape Breton N.S. BOE 2T0 (37)
Cape Breton's Magazine