Page 46 - Working on the Sydney Coal Piers
ISSUE : Issue 44
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/1/1
Somebody said the transformer blew up. That was the end of that pier. (Big hole in the centre of it.) Yeah. Well, we were carrying on till '64. They made a kind of a temporary-'a conveyor belt just ran over the burnt-out area--just enough to see could they load a small boat. We shipped up to Sydney the balance of '63. (Abbie, you came back at the end of the war. And was that your desire, to go back to work on the Coal Piers?) Oh yes, defin? itely. I lived Pier all my life. I lived it. I got married overseas, but I think I married the Pier, too. So my wife used to tell me. I only lost 10 days' work in 47 years. I worked from 1935 right up till 1982. And I only lost 10 days' work. Only my army time. (You were on call all the time?) On call, and mostly wanting to be there at times. On call, but still wanting to be there, you know, 2 o'clock in the morning, 3 o'clock. Blowing a gale, you know--protec? tion, the boat wouldn't shift, or some? thing happening like that. Breakdowns, you know. The boat's at the pier, but you've got to get the boom up. The captain would perhaps get nervous, in case he wanted to get her away from the dock. Sometimes, if For help in locating photos for this article, our thanks to John Maxner, Barry Martin, and Donnie Maclsaac, all of the Cape Breton Development Corporation; the staff of the Beaton Institute, U.C.C.B.; and Tom Miller, the Miners' Museum. the wind is bad, the boat could be 40 feet off the dock. And then, if the wind shifted around, and she came pounding in-- she could do a lot of damage to herself. They'd always want somebody just to be with them, to make up your mind, what you're going to do. Try to get a pilot up and see could we get her away from the pier. 'Cause the swell of the tide, the boat would be lifting and surging and lift? ing. It's funny, like, perhaps I thought I owned the Pier, but I didn't. No, the Pier came first, you know. You see now, what you did. Half the time, I never took off. I had 7 children--and many the Sunday that they never got out, they should be going-- I thought I had to go down to that Pier. It's the man I grew to work with. He was a tough man, who I broke in with. What he did, I thought I had to do. He'd be down there Sundays. I used to see him when I was even young, walking by, going down, with his bowler hat on, going down to that Pier on Sundays. So, I guess I'd go down on Sunday. We didn't work on Sundays then, you know. So that's what happened. And many times, when I look back, you know* I enjoyed it, but I spent too much time, too much time. Duncan J. Campbell The photo below is of Duncan J. Camp? bell, Sydney. At 99J', he is the old? est of the coal trimmers who worked on the Sydney Piers. He went on the Piers in 1919 and was pensioned off in 1959. The Buried Strike, 1940-41 One important story about the Coal Piers is not even touched on in this article • the story of the strike by the Intemation? al Pier Local (United Mine Workers) during WW2. It was a brief strike in the winter of 1940-41. It was a strike in which the company, the Canadian military, the U.M.W. under Dan Willie Morrison, and (possibly) public opinion, all turned against the strikers. The military (in charge of Sydney Harbour in war? time) played a role in sending them back to work. The U.M.W. leadership took away the Pier Local's charter. And there seems to have been blacklisting by the coal company. This is a strike not to be forgotten. We are working toward a story about it. If you can help in this, PLEASE CONTACT US RIGHT AWAY. If you were there, if you know someone it would be good to talk to • if you have heard something about this strike you think would be helpful • write to us. We will welcome any help on this that we can get. WRITE: Cape Breton's Magazine, Wreck Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia BOC IHO.
Cape Breton's Magazine