This Week in History
|For the week of Monday May 24, 2004
On May 27, 1911, the long and bitter 22-month coal miners’ strike in Springhill, Nova Scotia, came to an end. It was only one of a series of events that beset the Springhill coal mining industry, bringing the inhabitants of the historic town both prosperity and heartbreak.
After the disaster, the men returned to the mines with feelings of uneasiness. Work continued without incident until 1909, when the largest miners’ strike occurred. The strike was due to terrible working conditions and the formation of a new mining union that demanded recognition before returning to work. The miners felt oppressed and were forced to work long, hard hours for little pay, often in highly dangerous conditions. After a long battle with the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company, the strike ended when the Dominion Steel Corporation bought the mines.
In 1958, a collapse in the last remaining mine sent a shockwave of earthquake proportions through the town – 75 men perished and the mine was closed. After almost 85 years, the town’s principal industry was finally put to rest. Although coal mining returned a few years later, the town enjoyed a gradual diversification of industry and employment, relying less on mining. As one of Canada’s most commercially important coalfields, Springhill Coal Mining was designated a national historic site.
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