Page 29 - This Was Marble Mountain
ISSUE : Issue 22
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/6/1
French families from Arichat and D'Es- cousse brought their families. Men without families boarded in the different houses. The French lived in small little places • we called them shacks, perhaps they'd call them bungalows today. Just little two-room buildings • the company built these places for them. They'd come in April and go home the last of November or the first of De? cember. You know, I taught at Marble Mountain then. There were three teachers there then. We divided up the 125 .children. When I was a child there, there was only a one-room school at Marble Mountain. By the time I went to teach there, there were three rooms and they were ready to put on the fourth room when the quarry closed. And the last year they had a school there were 8 children and just one room. The closing was a shot out of the blue. In April the people used to start getting the machinery in readiness to start up the works. And just a week before they were supposed to start, the word was circulated that the quarry wouldn't open that year. And that was it. I often think, if it was today, would the people accept it the way they did? In those days, "The quarry's not going to work anymore" • and everybody that could move moved. Today they'd fight, want to know why. (Did anyone have a forerunner that it would end?) No. It came so fast. I suppose if they had slackened off...but it just ended. But there was a Buchanan. My father was a foreman in the quarry and this Bu? chanan worked for him. And one day he got his pay. It was 19 dollars and 99 cents. When he looked in his pay envelope and realized that they had broke the 20-dollar bill to take the cent out, he said to my father, "Mr. MacAskill, the day is coming when the grass will be growing over the tracks here." And later on, you know, we often thought of that. He was so hurt to think they'd do that, break the 20-dollar bill. Alex Fortune; In 1923 they abandoned Mar- ble Moimtain. The reason they abandoned her • the quarry up above, the rock started getting hard. Something in the rock, and they couldn't keep their drills sharpened with the hardness. So you couldn't sharpen them too much because they'd break, and if you didn't sharpen them, they wouldn't drill. And they had to make a decision to go northwest. Well, if they went northwest they'd break into the Bras d'Or Lime Com? pany's quarry • good rock there, just what they wanted. So they made a dicker to lease the Bras d'Or Lime Company's quarry. And when the lease expired they wanted to renew it • but the lime company executive held out for too much money and the steel company wouldn't give it to them. So they abandoned the whole darn works. Then one of the directors of the Dominion Coal Com? pany had land they say in Port-aux-Port with lime rock on it. Well the big boats were going to Newfoundland for the iron ore anyway. They could take lime rock back the same without coming up here, to Marble Moimtain. So that was it. They pulled eve? rything out of here. And there's lots of limestone here yet. It folded up. Well, DOSCO was famous for that. They deserted that Port-aux-Port in Newfoundland. Oh my god, that was a big town • left those people stranded there with homes. A terrible thing to do. They shouldn't permit those companies to do that sort of thing at all. Leaving them destitute. The people were away from a farm, dependent upon industry totally. You can't plant potatoes in the sidewalk, you know. Marble Moimtain today is almost like a graveyard for its solitude, in comparison to what it was. The activity that was here. Stores. I've counted myself in my mind a- bout 4? houses that were taken down and moved. They tore them down, some of them. You could even buy a house then for five dollars. But oh, this was -a dandy place one time. A great place for children to be brought up in. It was lovely. But now • it's a nice, pretty place and all that, but there's nobody here. Lonesome, you know. It's only for that damned steel com? pany pulling out. Alexander Fortune Cape Breton's Magazine/29
Cape Breton's Magazine