June 2, 2019 - In Canada, a popular project aimed at giving people a hands-on opportunity to share in Cape Breton’s rich coal mining history is pushing forward despite financial concerns.
A new state-of-the-art virtual mine simulator was supposed to be ready before the Cape Breton Miners Museum opens its doors for the summer, but funding fell short.
“I’m very disappointed,” says Mary Pat Mombourquette, Executive Director of the Cape Breton Miners Museum. “I’m really disappointed that it’s not here for the opening of the season, I was really looking forward to that.”
The reason for the delay is that the project came in over budget.
Despite the funding falling short, Mombourquette says she’s pushing forward with the construction phase anyway.
“We’re taking it on faith, I think it’s important to get moving on this project, and there’s just a little bit left to be raised, so I think we can do it.”
The museum is known for its guided tours, and the simulator is designed to allow people to experience a trip through a coal mine, without actually going underground.
“When we do the underground tour, we’re just walking and pointing things out,” explains tour guide Wish Donovan. “The simulator, you’re actually going to ride down, you’ll feel the experience your grandfather had riding the rake. There will be three different films, two on each side and one ahead, so you’ll get a real feel for it and see men actually working.”
These days, the mine guides are taking visitors through more than just a trip back in time. As the project gets underway, groups have to navigate around a gaping hole in the middle of the museum.
“You have to watch out for the safety of visitors and stuff like that,” says Donovan. “We have to make sure the workers have no tools hanging around or plugged in, it makes it a little more complicated when you’re doing the tours.”
Mombourquette says the project is still short $70,000, but they hope to have the simulator up and running by August with the help of community support.
“We’ve been very lucky,” says Mombourquette of the support from the community. “We got a $30,000 donation from the Cohn family. Remember Nina Cohn was the person who actually go this place going, her family heard me last time I was on CTV News and they came forward with a substantial donation.”
Working towards completing a project, that will give visitors a hands-on experience of what it was like to work in a Cape Breton coal mine.