Stellarton was a coal mining and railroading town. Years ago, a railroader would turn his nose up at a coal miner. They weren't supposed to walk on the same side of the street as a railroader. Coal mining was definitely looked down upon.
But a coal miner thinks he is as good - if not better - than any person in the world. There's no question about that.
My father was a coal miner and his family was from England. He was involved 48 years in the mines. He was killed in the Allan Shaft Mine - he was gassed. That was in 1932.
I started coal mining when I was 16 years old, in 1926. By 1933, I had worked up to a job as shot-firer. Then, in 1947, I became a manager at the Allan Shaft Mine.>The Allan Shaft caught fire in 1950. We battled that fire for over a year. When it burned through a fire-stopping, there was only one thing left to do and that was to seal off the mine. Not to flood it but to let the CH4 build up to such an extent that it would put the fire out.
After that was done, the company decided it wasn't practical to operate the mine any longer. I was transferred to No. 20 Colliery. I left there in 1956 and went to work at the Beaver Mine. I helped open a mine called the Atlantic and I managed it. After leaving that mine, I went to Springhill where we had a nice operation at the Syndicate Mine. I wasn't too fussy about Cape Breton but I enjoyed working at Springhill. We had a good crowd of men there.
There were only two mines that I know made money. They were the Syndicate in Springhill and No. 7 Mine in Stellarton. Years ago, the old-timers made money but they robbed the mines.
You couldn't stay at mining 45 years like I did unless you liked it. Mining has been good to me but it's been tough, too. Don't ever get the idea that it's not. I have an excellent wife and, between her and my ambition, we made a good living out of it. My ambition at the time was to go as far in coal mining as I possibly could.
Today there is one bitter spot: there are no pensions. It makes me boil.