Pictou County took a moment to remember its mining roots on Tuesday as local leaders and community members gathered together in Stellarton to commemorate Davis Day.
Davis Day marks the anniversary of the death of William Davis, killed June 11, 1925. He died when company police fired on protesting miners after the British Empire Steel and Coal Company shut down the drinking water supply and electricity to the town of New Waterford.
The day is now set aside as William Davis Miners’ Memorial Day in the province, and has evolved to remember all miners killed in mining accidents.
Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn, who had relatives who died in Drummond Mine Explosion in 1873, was the guest speaker at the event.
“If you’ve lived in Pictou County for a few decades, you probably had family members relatives or friends that worked in the steel or coal mining industries,” Dunn said.
Dunn recalled as a child getting coal with his father at the Albion Mines coal chute and taking it to shovel through a basement window to be used for heat.
“We have so many people around this community connected to the coal mining industry,” he said. “It has been said many times that it often took a coal mine to create a community and a coal mine to devastate a community.”
Devastation, havoc, overwhelming shock or grief were common effects of mine disasters and Pictou County was certainly not immune. The most recent was the Westray Mine Disaster in 1992 which claimed the lives of 26 men.
“Coal miners were a close-knit bunch,” Dunn said. “Their very lives depended on the actions of their buddies and neighbours in the mine. Sticking together, supporting each other was very common in Nova Scotia coal towns. That is our inheritance today and why we have gathered here to pause and reflect on the past.”