U.S. coal baron Chris Cline remembered across the Maritimes as a generous, humble man
People across the Maritimes are remembering billionaire U.S. coal baron Chris Cline as a man who had it all.
Cline died along with six others, including his daughter, after his helicopter crashed off the Bahamas earlier this week.
Cline was the owner of the Donkin Mine in Cape Breton, and many say he’s a man who brought mining back to the island.
“It was very shocking,” said Donkin Mine community liaison committee chair, Paul Carrigan. “I couldn’t believe it.”
After years without coal mining in Cape Breton, Cline purchased the Donkin Mine in 2014, which opened for production in 2017.
Carrigan says while he never met Cline personally, his visits to Cape Breton always left a big impression on others.
“He was very hands-on, talking to management,” said Carrigan. “There was a meeting where we asked, ‘What is he like?’ This is a mogul, so to speak, and they said that he’s so down to earth, he’s a pleasure to work with. So, of course, the committee wanted to meet him someday and that was the plan.”
In an email from Donkin Mine, the company says: "Chris was very connected to the Donkin Mine and spent a lot of time in Cape Breton, and his presence will be missed. Regular mine operations will resume on Monday morning."
Cline got his start as an underground miner at the age of 22 in West Virginia. People from there are also remembering Cline as a man who gave back millions of dollars in his home state in acts of philanthropy.
“Sometimes they say, ‘Money makes a man,’ but with Mr. Cline, it was he who made the money,” said Sara McDowell, who worked with Cline through non-profit. “But he stayed true to his roots. He was truly a humble human being. Very kind, very generous.”
While a person of Cline’s stature will be remembered throughout the world, his name will echo for some time in Cape Breton, particularly if the Donkin Mine remains in operation for years to come.
“He’s the individual who saw that this mine could work. He spent a lot of money and is still spending money with his corporation,” said Carrigan.
Cline died just a day shy of his 61st birthday.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald