Family working to get memorial for 12 men who died in Glace Bay mine explosion
It's been 40 years since one of the deadliest explosions in Cape Breton coal mining history shook No. 26 Colliery in Glace Bay, claiming the lives of 12 men.
The family of one of the victims says they still feel the pain of that horrible day and wonder why there is no memorial to mark the disaster.
Theresa Young will never forget an early morning wake-up call 40 years ago that would change her life forever.
“Oh dear, I can't even explain it,” said Young, who became a widow that day. “The hurt. The fear of still bringing up the seven of my eight kids.”
Joanne Shepard was only 17 years old at the time and she was getting ready to graduate from high school. The loss of her father feels like yesterday.
“I remember being woken up at 7 in the morning,” Shepard said. “We were told there was an accident in the mine. That there was an explosion and we were kind of put on standby to wait for further news.”
More than a dozen families were in that same situation on Feb. 24, 1979.
Ten miners died that day in the pit, two more later in hospital.
Fabian Young was only 47 years old at the time.
“It hurts to think of the pain that I did go through, and my kids were going through,” Young said. “I helped them as much as I could. I hoped they weren't going through as much hurt as I was, but I know they were. They missed their father; they loved him -- same as me.”
Although the memories are fresh in the minds of Young's family, they feel the disaster has been forgotten about, and overshadowed by another mining accident in Westray.
“There's a park in New Glasgow in memory of the Westray miners,” Shepard said. “I don't see why Glace Bay can't have one too.”
Sheppard had started plans on a purposed memorial park to honour the men, but says it's been hard getting the project off the ground because there hasn't been enough interest.
“It's important that we don't forget our history,” shesaid.
And Shepard says it is important to commemorate the miners in a meaningful way.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.