Page 2 - When the Employees Owned the Trams
ISSUE : Issue 24
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/12/1
they couldn't handle it • biggest mistake they ever made. (How much money are we talking about?) Well, I can't give you the actual cost of it, because we contributed 200 dollars first, each man • that made over 6000 dol? lars. Well, that was the down payment. Then later on I think we contributed the same amount again. Well, from there on the company was able to support itself. After two years, it began to pick up. (So, the depression for you meant that all these men had work?) Oh yes. All had steady work. Turned out to be remarkable. Every? body pitched in, put their shoulder to the wheel • you can do wonders. That's the way it turned out with our outfit. (It seems to me important in a day when people are searching around, asking how to save dif? ferent industries. Did you have to make sacrifices?) I wouldn't call it sacrifices. We worked long hours and worked a lot of overtime for nothing and all that • that is, the first couple of years • but after two years, things began to pick up a little. (We say the employees owned the tram com? pany. How were the actual decisions made?) We called a meeting and formed a company and appointed six directors. And they in turn appointed a manager and a master me? chanic to look after the maintenance in the car barn • and a secretary and a treas? urer. And we went on from there. And once every three months the directors had a meeting, and once a year we had a general meeting. (The question of buying a new tram? putting down tracks?) The directors pretty well made those decisions. Of course, it would probably be brought up at the general meeting and if there was any? body had any doubts about it, they had a chance to express their opinion. There could be changes made if it was thought right. (So it was run by the employees?) Oh yes. (You say it so softly and sweetly, but it strikes me that it was an important event.) Well, it was. And we were lucky. We had good men. See, this Cape Breton Electric Company covered a big district. It covered Sydney and Glace Bay and North Sydney. They had a line from North Sydney to Sydney Mines. Then they had what we called the Pier line, a line right into the Pier from town and another one to Whitney Avenue, went around the outskirts of the city. When I started, the Gape Breton Electric Company also had ferry boats running from Sydney to North Sydney. Eastern Light and Power took over the electricity in I93I. And it was only the Glace Bay part of it that the employ? ees took over. (Sydney to Glace Bay and a half hour local tram in Glace Bay.) We took it over with the intention of running it for a few years and then converting to buses, but when the war came on, every? thing was frozen, you weren't allowed to take off any transportation that was in existence at the time. So we ran all through the war • we ran trams till 194?. And it was a success story all the way through. We took it over in the depression. But we bought it for junk price because that was all they could get for the rol? ling equipment, the track and all that stuff. When we first took it over, we put in some new track, because the old com? pany, the last years, they ran it right out as long as they could. So we had to do a lot of work when we took it over. We had to get carloads and carloads of ties to put in, lot of new rails too. It wasn't all renewed, patched up • but we had it in pretty good shape after a few years. And then when the war started and they started to build an airport out halfway between college of Cdpe breton press presents Songs & Stories From Deep Cove Cape Breton (edited by Ron MacEachern). Twenty songs from earlier days, connplete with note and verse, as remembered by Amby Thomas who was born and raised in the small fishing community of Deep Cove. The book also con? tains many of Mr. Thomas' memories of growing up in Cape Breton. Soft cover, over twenty illustrations $4.95 Patterson's History of Victoria County (edited by W. James MacDonald). G. G. Patterson wrote the history in 1885. The work has been updated with added appendices and footnotes. Complete with early photographs, first settlers' names and early place names. Beautifully bound, hard cover $13.00 Records 'GLENDALE '77 - A live recording of the 1977 Cape Breton Festival of Fiddlers at Glendale, Inverness County $6.50 THE RISE & FOLLIES OF CAPE BRETON ISLAND - Original cast recording of the music and comedy revue that took Cape Breton by storm $6.50 Historic Map Reproductions DETAIL OF FORTRESS LOUISBOURG (circa 1760). A beautiful detail of the city and fortifications. One of the few maps of this period in English. 11" X 16". THOMAS KITCHIN'S MAP OF CAPE BRETON (circa 1758). An ex? quisite map of the island by the English geographer. Beautifully illustrated. 12"x16" Each Map: Matted - $10.00 / Framed - $30.00 AVAILABLE AT MANY RETAIL OUTLETS. // you wish to order by mail, send cheque or money order in the amount indicated to: The College of Cape Breton Press P.O. Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, BIP 6L2
Cape Breton's Magazine