Mudcat Café message #98254 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12277   Message #98254
Posted By: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
22-Jul-99 - 07:48 PM
Thread Name: Music: Police and Striking Miners
Subject: RE: Police and Striking Miners
There were some songs that came out of the strike of the coal miners on Cape Breton Island in the 1920's, but I am afraid I know none of them. (George Seto who posts here sometime might know some)

One was written in the 1980's, I know, about one miner killed, a certain William Davies. (NOT the former premier of Ontario, just some poor guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.) I think it was called Remember the Miners, and it was on a long deleted LP of a benefit concert done when the miners struck again in the 1980's. That concert was broadcast nationally on the CBC.

My father remembers that strike as a boy. The miners in Sydney Mines, Cape Breton rushed the company store, which they called the Pluck Me store. (And there is in fact a song call The Pluck Me Store -- the Cape Breton miners' choir The Men of the Deep sing it) You always ended up "owing your soul to the company store" in Cape Breton just as much as you did down south. Anyway, they attacked it and with it went all the records of who owed what to the company -- the company couldn't do anything collect because it seems they had no back up records, and the miners made sure that the originals were no longer around. The store wasn't rebuilt and IIRC the miners eventually started a co-op store.

Anyway, the government sent in troops who at first were not very popular with the locals -- chucking bricks and them and whatnot. My father says however a lot of the soldiers, mainly WWI vets as were many of the miners, were sympathetic to the miners and used to turn a blind eye when they and their children went to the coal piles to sneak off with some fuel. Some of them eventually married local girls, in the time-honoured tradition of soldiers the world over. There are several books about this strike.

I have to admire people of that time. Here when I try to get people to volunteer for community efforts it is next to impossible to convince them to pry themselves away from their television sets. These miners and their families not only took action, but were quite prepared to get shot at in the process. Different generation, I guess.