Effort growing for memorial to miners killed in Glace Bay explosion
A family's effort to honour a loved one and 11 other men who lost their lives in a mining disaster 40 years ago is gaining momentum.
They want to establish a monument in Glace Bay and a committee has been put together to help make it happen.
Feb. 24, 1979 was a day of shock, uncertainty, and sadness. 10 miners were killed after an explosion in the No. 26 colliery and two more later died in hospital.
Sheldon Guthro was working that night.
“The first guys that I came across were the guys that were burned,” Guthro said. “Every exposed skin on their body was burned. They went through hell on earth for two years after. And then I went in a little further and started seeing all the men that were dead. It was something that never, ever left my mind and probably never will.”
Joanne Shepard's father was one of those men killed. Fabian Young was only 47 years old at the time.
Shepard's public plea on CTV News for a monument to remember her father and the eleven others has generated a lot of interest.
“We've got a committee now that's going to drive this forward,” said Mary Pat Mombourquette, the director of the Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay. “We are really hopeful within a year we will have the memorial.”
Looking at the road that leads to the site of old colliery, there is no sign of devastating disaster took place 40 years ago.
“Those 12 men that were killed were young boys, young men,” Guthro said. “They all had young families. Some of them had babies. Some of them grew up not knowing their fathers. If a monument was built, they could at least come and see their father's name on it.”
Guthro feels since the colliery was government owned, they should give money to the cause.
A GoFundMe page has already received almost $1,500 in less than two weeks.
But Mombourquette says the monument is going to cost in the tens of thousands.
“We're leaning towards granite,” she said. “Having a granite memorial that would have names engraved of all the men that lost their lives.”
It’s hoped the memorial will be situated on the miners museum property.
It would look out over the part of the Atlantic the men worked under for years.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.