National Day of Mourning is April 28th
On a winter’s day in February, 1891, my great-grandfather was working in a coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia, when in an instant his world changed. An explosion deep in the mine erupted, sending fire sweeping through the tunnels. About 125 of his friends and coworkers died that day. With the rest of the community, he helped carry out the dead from the shattered pits. The story passed down in my family how he found the worst was carrying out the bodies of the children, some as young as ten, who worked beside him in the mine.
How Did This Happen?
How did this disaster happen? The inquiry never reached a firm conclusion, but such incidents were common in those days, when mines filled with coal dust were time bombs waiting for a spark. One might think the mine operators would have learned, but two more high-fatality accidents happened in Springhill (1956 and 1958), before the mine was closed for good.
In some ways, we live in a lucky era. Most of us who go to work each day expect to return home alive and well. Historically, though, the workplace could be a deathtrap. Although even the earliest farming and gathering communities faced hazards, the Industrial Revolution brought more people into contact with dangerous working conditions than ever. Workers in factories could be Continue Reading…