Cape Breton Miners Museum set to celebrate 50th anniversary
Published Sunday, June 4, 2017 6:26PM ADT
Last Updated Sunday, June 4, 2017 6:51PM ADT
One of Cape Breton’s top tourist attractions is getting set to mark a major milestone.
The Cape Breton Miners Museum has been telling the stories of miners, and their families for 50 years. To celebrate, events are planned over nine days beginning next week.
Those who work at the museum say the hope is to keep the island's rich coal mining history alive for another 50 years.
“It's a huge thing that we are in this community and 14,000 people come through annually and love this,” says museum executive director Mary Pat Mombourqette. “It's wonderful to say we can promote Cape Breton’s history for 50 years.”
Museum tour guide Sheldon Guthro worked underground for 32 years in four different mines.
“Boys worked in the mine back in them days as young as nine, 10 years old. Most of them went in the mine because their father either got hurt or killed. One of the conditions the company had was if you lived in their house somebody from the household needed to work in the pit.”
Davis Day ceremonies will be held at the museum June 11 as part of the anniversary celebrations. Davis Day is recognized by communities across Nova Scotia to recognize miners that died on the job.
“That all started because three miners were shot and one miner was killed, his name was William Davis,” says Guthro. “The miners swore when that happened they would never mine another pound of coal on June 11th - and we never ever did.”
The famous choir of miners, The Men of the Deeps, will also perform at the museum to mark the anniversary.
“They say they've performed all over the world, but when they come here they are home,” says Mombourqette. “The sound in the auditorium was built for their voices.”
Anniversary planning hasn't been smooth for Mombourqette and museum staff. Over the winter months buckets lined the stairwells of the museum to catch falling water; there were holes in the ceiling, and gaps between windows and doors.
Thanks to money from all three levels of governments, repairs are being made and should be completed in time for celebrations, which begin on June 9.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.