Canada: Unexpected Discovery Excites Cape Breton Mining Community
By Kyle Moore and Brandon Young
February 7, 2021 - Construction crews in Cape Breton recently unearthed coal mining cars dating back nearly 100 years. With the rare find, many people in the area hope the carts are saved to preserve the region's rich coal mining history.
The former site of the No. 14 Colliery in New Waterford, N.S., closed in 1932, but the historic discovery, which was dug up in early-February, has resulted in renewed excitement surrounding the site.
"It would be nice if they restored one of them cars and put it at the site of the bank head and a little plaque with the history of the mine," says former miner Stan Roach.
Because of their age, it's unclear whether the machinery was used as rake cars to transport the miners into the mine or whether they were old coal cars. Roach says the wooded structure has rotted away over the years, and all that's left is the steel frame.
"Back when this mine was going in the 30s, this town was booming with the coal mines," says Roach. "Number 12 pit was going; number 16 pit was going. There was thousands of miners working here."
While the find was made in New Waterford, the Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay says the find is remarkable and rare.
"I think they should be preserved," says Cape Breton Miners Museum executive director, Mary Pat Mombourquette. "I think it's really important for the next generation to see what past generations did so they could have a better life."
Mombourquette says the connection to mining in Cape Breton impacts just about everyone on the island.
"Their grandfather may have sat on one of those seats and travelled down the mine to get to work every day," says Mombourquette. "I think there's a real connection to the people now of New Waterford and the people who worked in those mines in the earlier days."
While it's still not clear where the cars will end up, the councillor for the area is working on putting the wheels in motion – to keep them as a permanent part of the region's mining story.
"This is something that's new. We've never found 100-year-old mining cars in our town before, and people should be excited about it," says CBRM councillor Darren O'Quinn. "It's a great find."