Retired Underground Coal Miner
In 1908, the year I was born, my family came to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia from England, and from there went to Bellevue. I was 16 years old when I started as a driver's helper at $3.50 per day - that was my job for two years. After that, I dug coal for 25 years. Then I was put up on the hill. i spent 37 years in Bellevue and six more at the Vicary Mine in Coleman.
My dad always said the Bellevue Mine was the best in North America - and he should have known, he worked in all kinds of mines.
I was put up on the hill here during the war. That was the most foolish move I ever made in my life. I had gone to night school and received my certificate for mining competency. Now, because I had charge of the whole mine, I had to work Saturdays and Sundays, and the pitbosses would call me in the middle of the night when there was a cave-in and they "couldn't start the pumps." So I used to have to get up in the middle of the damn night and show them how to start the pumps!
When I went to Vicary, I had to pay $50 to join the union - I was lampman at the time. Six months later, they asked me to go in the mine as a fireboss, so l had to get out of the union that I had just paid to get in!
As a hobby in the summer, I've been working as a guide at the Leitch Collieries Provincial Historical Site.