|Men & Methods|
TRANSACTIONS OF THE CANADIAN INSTITUTE OF MINING AND METALLURGY, PART OF VOL. XXV, 1922.
Subject to Revision - All RightsReserved.
MEN AND METHODS
Annual Meeting, Mining Society of Nova Scotia, Sydney, May, 1922
At a recent meeting of the executive of the Society it was suggested by our President that the names of our pioneer mining men, and the methods they employed in opening up the mines of the Province, were being lost sight of, and that in justice to these men an effort should be made to trace their history and place it in some form on the records of our Society. Certain is it that we owe a debt to these men of a generation or more agone, who worked under handicaps which might well have discouraged anyone; and if we expend some effort in an attempt to place their names, and the works they accomplished, on file in the archives of our Society, we are to some extent liquidating our debt and furnishing future members with a history which may stimulate them to increased effort when we in turn shall have passed off the stage. A resolution was passed covering the President's suggestion, and the next business was to find a victim. On counting noses, I was IT.
When I accepted the duty of preparing a short history of the men employed, and of the methods pursued, during the past half century of mining in Nova Scotia, I little realized the magnitude of the task I had undertaken. A slight revision of notes hastily compiled soon convinced me that the subject was too great to be compassed in one paper, and I decided to confine my paper to Cape Breton Island alone. In this task I have received material assistance from Mr. J. T. Brown personally, and also from a free use of his splendid library. Even with this help, I feel there must be omissions of much important data, which I trust will be supplied by members present. As I hope this will be followed by a similar paper covering the same subject on the Mainland, we may call this Chapter One.
We are all fairly well acquainted with the iniquitous lease by which all of the minerals in Nova Scotia were vested in the Duke of York, and by him conveyed to a firm of London jewellers and money lenders known as Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell. This firm in turn formed the company known as the General Mining Association, which exercised their rights under the lease until 1857.
The first names to which we must uncover are those of Gessner of Cumberland county, Fraser of Pictou, and James MacKeen of Plaster Cove, now known as Port Hastings. These three men, in season and out, fought the lease monopoly with an energy which knew no stay, until their efforts were rewarded by its cancellation and the throwing open of the mineral reserves of the Province to private enterprise.
This was in 1857, at a time when the Province was devoid of capital and but little known to the outside world. The discovery of gold in paying quantities, in the counties of Guysboro and Halifax, brought the Province into the limelight, and during the next six years there was a stampede to the gold regions. During this period the great Republic became involved in a fratricidal war, and an artificial demand for coal was created. The stories of coal in Cape Breton, described by Nicholas Denys and other early writers as consisting of solid mountains of coal where neither pumping nor ventilation was necessary, were in many respects equal to the stories of the Texas oil fields, with which our mails are now being daily burdened. As a consequence, there was a great influx of American capital and American engineers. Coal mines were opened indiscriminately wherever a possible shipping port could be found or created around our coasts.
The first mention of coal mining in Cape Breton by the Commissioner of Mines is in his report for 1864. In this report he expressed regret that no inspector of coal mines had as yet been appointed, and he was unable to give a detailed report of mining operations. He does, however, mention that there was a decrease in production of coal, as compared with previous years, on account of a strike amongst the workmen: so it appears that, even at that early date, operations were handicapped much as they are at the present day.
At the southern extremity of the coal basin, the Tracey mines, opened at False Bay beach in Mira bay, were being worked at this time. The outcrop of this seam, the lowest of all the series, enters tide water at this point, dipping inland. The idea of the promoters was to cut a canal through the beach and use the small land-locked pond, or Barrasois, as a shipping port. To this end the Federal Government was appealed to, and they did make a complete survey and plans of the proposed work, which is a habit they have, just before a general election. The promoters, Messrs. Tracey and McLeod, set about developing their mine and built a small shipping pier out into Mira bay, from which they carried on shipping for some years. Their little pier withstood the ravages of the elements until the famous August gale of 1873, when it disappeared beneath the waves. Two years later, Mr. Price Prothero commenced operations in these areas, and succeeded in opening a channel across the beach, of sufficient depth to raft logs through at high tide. Most of the timber used in the original breakwater at Morien was transported in this way. This effort proved a failure and the property having fallen into the hands of some English investors some twenty-five years later, a gentleman named Hill-Catherine took charge in 1901 and, with much beating of drums, undertook to open the Mountain-Kitty mine. Some buildings were erected, a large amount of talk expended, and the whole project abandoned. The only persons to benefit by this last named undertaking were some pirates from Scatterie and nearby ports, who secured a large lot of panel doors, flooring and sheathing from the abandoned buildings. In the year 1919 the property was acquired by Mr. Vincent McFadden and his associates, and a systematic effort to open up the inner harbour was made. A powerful steam dredge, with steam pile-driver, commenced work on the harbour, the mines were pumped and opened up, and some coal was actually shipped in 1920. Then all operations suddenly ceased, and the most southerly of all mines in Cape Breton county was again in the discard.
Following along the shore from this most southerly mine, we come next to an opening commonly known as the Baird mine. This mine, like the Tracey, was first opened by a tunnel driven into the coal, where it showed in the face of the cliff,
to be followed later by a shaft sunk farther inland. A company composed of David McArel, James Wilson, Robert Wilson, and James Baird was formed, and mining commenced in 1864 under the management of Robert Wilson. This venture was known as the Caledonian Mines, which perhaps accounts for some of the confusion of historical data with the records of Caledonia Mines, opened by Converse and his associates about the same time in the Glace Bay areas. A few years later Mr. David McArel took a cargo of this coal to New York, and, while there, sold the mine to an American company, which immediately commenced operations on a well defined plan. The Baird shaft was sunk in 1867, a shipping pier was erected in Baird cove, and a line of steam railway was laid from the pit mouth to the shipping pier. This, it is claimed, was the first steam railway to be operated on the southern side of the Island. A duty of $1.25 per ton on coal entering the United States, together with the demolition on the pier by the August gale of 1873, put the quietus on this and many other ambitious schemes of coal mining in Cape Breton.
In geographical succession the next mine we come to is the famous Broughton mine. This folly is of much more recent origin than the two already dealt with, and is only deserving of notice for the reason that it originated as the result of an honest effort by the late E. T. Mosely to trace out and develop various minerals in Cape Breton. Mr. Mosely is one of the pioneers who has never received his due amount of credit from the mining fraternity. A lawyer by profession, he devoted a large part of his time and substance to exploration of our mineral resources. In geological reports on coal, iron, copper, and manganese, we find frequent reference to Mr. Mosely's activities, and I am glad to find his name amongst the earliest members of this Society.
A single seam of coal, an extension of the Tracey seam of False bay located by Mr. Mosely in the vicinity of Loon lake, was opened at the outcrop by Mr. Lancaster in 1901. A wagon road, about three miles in length, was built from the pit mouth to Mira river, a tiny boat wharf was constructed, and some four or five tons of coal were hauled down. This was heralded in the local press as the completion of the road and shipping pier, and the names of three steamers which had bunkered at
the shipping pier were mentioned. A company was now formed, with Horace Mayhew, of England, at its head; a glorious prospectus was issued; and a vaudeville show of the latest style in mining was staged. A new location was selected, a townsite laid out, streets were graded, and an elegant suite of offices and two modern hotels were erected. In fact they now had everything but a coal mine with which to carry on their great work - and the inevitable collapse occurred.
Some years later, more capital was raised and work of a more sensible character was commenced. A neat steel bank-head was erected, some miners houses built, and coal mining, under the management of C. J. Coll, was carded on during the years 1914 and 1915. Prior to Mr. Coll's advent, a line of railway had been located from the pit mouth to Mira bay, and a large amount of capital had been expended on its construction. Work on this line was stopped, and Mr. Coll devoted himself to an attempt to actually work the mine. Such coal as was disposed of was shipped over the Sydney and Louisburg railway and shipping pier at Louisburg, but in spite of the increased demand and inflated price of coal, incident to the war conditions, the handicap was too great, and the curtain was rung down on another unfortunate incident in the history of mining enterprises in this Island.
One of the bright spots in the early record is the Gowrie mines, opened by Archibald and McLean in 1864. A business difference, eventually settled by arbitration, vested the property in Archibald and Company of North Sydney and it was kept in continuous operation by the same company until its disposal to the Dominion Coal Company in 1893. During all these years the Gowrie was under the management of Mr. Charles Archibald, at present president of the Bank of Nova Scotia. Following the disposal of this mine to the Dominion Coal Company, it was connected with the Sydney and Louisburg Railway by a branch line and was kept in operation until 1896, when it was closed. As this district is still possessed of large areas of unworked coal, the present generation will yet see extensive works in this vicinity.
About this time there appeared on this scene a gentleman named C. Ochiltree MacDonald, who secured some vacant territory and formed the Newcastle Coal Syndicate. Mr.
MacDonald sank a shaft near the shore at Port Morien, erected a coal pocket some distance out in the bay, and connected it by aerial transmission line with his bankhead. His company he reorganized from time to time under various titles, viz: Gowrie and Block House Collieries, and The North Atlantic Collieries. The originator of these several companies was subjected to a lot of adverse criticism by the 'Baa-man' of the nearby districts, but, like all Englishmen, he kept on, unmindful of jeer or scoff. While the output of the mine was never large and the venture never promising, the promotor held on until, at a favourable opportunity, he sold out and has since lived in retirement on the results of his foresight and the proceeds of his efforts. His critics are all still dodging the sheriff or looking for a job. It is well for some of us that we always have our laugh first, as otherwise we would never smile. The purchasers of the property reorganized under the name of Boston and Morien Coal Company, and after a few years of patient effort with no goal in sight, they backed off the stage and the property was sold, lock, stock, and barrel, to the Dominion Coal Company. Adjoining this property to the north is the site of the Block House collieries, at one time the scene of greatest activity on the Island.
Block House colliery, as its name implies, was the site of an old French block house erected during the French occupation of Louisburg in 1725. The garrison and citizens of the town were supplied with fuel from this source. The block house was for the protection of the mine workers, as there was always a scrap on with someone - and we don't seem to have quite eliminated the habit yet.
These areas were secured, and the mine opened, in 1859 by Marshall Bourinot. Mr. Bourinot worked the mine until 1864 when he sold it to a New York company composed of three brothers, Robert, Charles, and Augustus Belloni, and their brother-in-law, Charles Havemyer. These gentlemen organized the Block House Mining Company and proceeded to develop the mine on a large scale, for that period, with Mr. Crandall, of Marine Slip fame, as manager. A shipping pier was built close to the slope mouth, but as there was practically no protection from storms from the Atlantic, its upkeep was a costly item. The usual charges of extravagance were made
by onlookers, while on the other hand it is claimed by many that coal was delivered from the mine tubs to the vessel's hold at a cost of 60 cents per ton, and that, during the last year of the American Civil War, it was sold in New York at $9.00. At this date, the output of the mine was 450 tons per day. No company could stand such prosperity as this, and, as a natural consequence, the company went into bankruptcy in 1872. New capital was raised, however, and the company was reorganized under the name of the Block House Coal and Railway Company. Mr. Belloni at a later date became interested in the International mines at Bridgeport, and he had a railway survey laid down from the International mines to Louisburg, following the shore as far as Mira bay, with the idea of furnishing transport for the product of the many small mines then in operation around the shore. Mr. Belloni also employed two eminent mining engineers, Messrs. Benjamin-Smith-Lyman and Prof. Lesley, in connection with his projects. These gentlemen made extensive surveys and have left us a wealth of information concerning the geology and surface conditions between Lingan Basin and Port Morien
Misfortune seemed to dog the footsteps of these energetic Americans. Their shipping pier was destroyed by the August gale of 1873, and in 1877 they were again in difficulties, when they once more shifted base and were re-organized as the Block House Coal Company, under which title they continued in operation until 1885 when they quietly passed off the scene. Their areas and all their assets were subsequently sold by the Local Government of Nova Scotia to satisfy claims for overdue royalties, and eventually the property came into possession of the Dominion Coal Company. As these areas embraced a large tract of the Gowrie seam, which is still unworked, there is no doubt that the site of old Block House will again be the scene of great activity at no distant date.
In 1863 a company composed of Messrs. Ross, Kaye, and Symonds commenced work on a slope at Schooner Pond, which they named the Acadia Mines. The Mr. Ross here mentioned was the father of the late A. C. Ross and is still familiarly referred to by the oldest residents as "Hughie" Ross - the name Hughie arising from the fact that his name actually was Hugh E. Ross. This property was on what is now known as the
Emery seam, being a continuation of the seam of that name opened the same year at Reserve. Mr. Ross, however, named it the Ross seam, and it is so referred to by Brown and Fletcher in their reports. About the same time Mr. Ross opened slopes on a seam near Low point, which he also named the Ross seam under the impression that it was the northern extremity of the same seam being worked at Schooner Pond.
There being no harbour, the coal was loaded into scows which were towed out to schooners anchored in the bay and the coal transferred to their holds. This was the only method of transportation attempted until 1874, when Reserve, Emery and Schooner Pond mines were amalgamated under one company and Schooner Pond was linked with Reserve by a line of railway which connected with a shipping pier in Sydney harbour. This company, the Glasgow and Cape Breton Company, with F. N. Gisborne as general manager, was financed by English capital and had the same ideas, and worked on the same lines, as followed later under more propitious circumstances by the Dominion Coal Company. Their Reserve areas, so called from being held in reserve by the Nova Scotia Government as a prize for a company which would undertake to build a railway from Sydney to Louisburg, were some of the richest in Cape Breton county.
In the following year, 1875, they extended their railway to Louisburg, this giving them access to open shipping all the year round and connecting with five different mines, viz: Reserve, Emery, Lorway, Balmoral, and Schooner Pond. Of these, the Reserve, Emery, and Schooner Pond were the only mines worked to any considerable extent. This company was in advance of its time, and was soon in financial difficulties. Sold under foreclosure in London, all its mines, piers, railways, and franchise brought but £12,000 under the auctioneer's hammer. Re-organized under the name of the Sydney and Louisburg Coal and Railway Company, it was successively managed by F. C. Kimber and D. J. Kennedy. Its railway branches to Louisburg and Schooner Pond were closed, it devoted its energies to developing Reserve mine, with Sydney alone as its shipping port, and it enjoyed an era of prosperity until 1893, when it was merged under the management of the Dominion Coal Company, which was formed during that year.
The Gisborne Company, as it was commonly called, found itself handicapped for want of a market. Indeed, at this period, other ventures of a similar nature suffered the same experience, to their sorrow. The American Civil War having passed into history, the citizens of the great Republic returned to civil life and supplied their own wants. To secure their home market to their own citizens, a duty of $1.25 per ton was imposed upon bituminous coal entering the United States. This practically closed that market, and it was not until many years later that Canada, under a protective tariff, was able to absorb the product of its own mines in its entirety.
We have drifted far inland and will now return to the shore line collieries. A few miles northwest of Schooner Pond, and still along shore, we come to the Clyde, or Ontario, mine. It may be worth mentioning that en route we pass No. 6 mine, rendered famous by the Steel Company's lawsuit of recent date. The Clyde mine was opened by Messrs. A. and J. Campbell in 1863 near a small cove where Phalen's brook enters the sea, and here the famous Phalen seam took its name. It is rather anomalous that the counsel and experts for the plaintiff in the famous Steel-Coal difficulty spent much time and money in an effort to prove that the Phalen seam did not exist south of Big Glace Bay lake. For a few years the Clyde mine shipped from a small wharf in the cove at the mouth of Phalen's brook, but the usual failure and re-organization over-took this company like all others of this date, and it was re-organized under the name of the Ontario mine; and, by an arrangement entered into with the Caledonia Mining Company on the northern side of Big Glace Bay lake, an artificial harbour was constructed and in 1872 connection by a short line of railway established. This mine was successively worked under management of Mr. Jas. T. Burchell, John Sutherland, and Alex. McPherson. The names of J. Langdon, of Pittsburgh, as president, and Alex. Fulton as manager also appear in the list of prominent men engaged in this enterprise in these early years of development of our mineral resources. Having been acquired by B. F. Pearson in 1892 as the initial purchase of Cape Breton Mines, it was absorbed in the merger of 1893.
During these years much valuable research work was being carried on both by the Government and by private interests.
In 1865 the local government appointed John Rutherford as Inspector of Mines for the Province. Robb and Fletcher commenced a systematic geological survey of the Island, and gave us their splendid maps and reports. W. H. Parrott and Stephen H. Head, from our southern neighbour, and Robert Drummond, from bonnie Scotland, all landed on our shores, and Prof. Howe and Henry Yule Hind lent their scientific knowledge. William Routledge and Henry Mitchell, of merrie England, came to lend a hand in exploiting our natural resources, and a season of great activity was inaugurated. Henry Poole, Wilson, Converse, Howe, Emery, Burchell, and Archbold are names which attained prominence in this immediate vicinity, while Caddigan and McLeod were busy at Bridgeport, P. Collins and A. J. Campbell at the northern extremity of the basin, and the Sydney Collieries Company were making extensive preparations to open up the famous Bonar-Head submarine areas. Hugh Ross divided his energies between preaching the gospel and opening up slopes at Victoria in this county, and at various points in Inverness. Cossitt Brothers, sons of the Rev. Ramma Cossitt, opened a small outcropping some three miles south of Sydney. William Ransome carried on boring operations between Marion Bridge and Loran. Discoveries of coal and iron ore were reported at Glengarry and Loch Lomond, while manganese ore was opened up and mined to some extent in the Salmon river district by E. T. Mosely. Extensive works were carried on in explorations for copper at Cheticamp, there were borings for oil at Lake Ainslee, and the lead-silver mines of East Bay attracted attention. Richard Brown, manager of the G.M.A. at Sydney Mines, published his famous works in the form of a history of this Island, and a special edition dealing with the history of the coal mining industry alone. Caledonia mine, on the Phalen seam, was opened by a company composed of Messrs. Converse, Howe, and Emery, with Henry Poole as manager. After spasmodic efforts to maintain a small shipping wharf at the outlet of Glace Bay lake, this company built a railway across the sand bar, and built or constructed an artificial harbour where a depth of seventeen feet of water was maintained and shipping carried on for some years. This ambitious scheme proved unsatisfactory, and, after ten years' battling with the elements, an arrangement was made in 1884 with
the Little Glace Bay Mining Company, by which Caledonia shipped in what is now Glace Bay harbour on payment of 12 1/2 cents per ton for the privilege. David MacKeen was now manager, and practically owner, of Caledonia Mines. This arrangement continued until the absorption of Caledonia by the merger of 1893, when Mr. MacKeen became the first manager of the Dominion Coal Company. Henry Poole had resigned his position as manager in 1872, and had succeeded John Rutherford as Inspector for the Province. In his first report as Inspector, he calls attention to the absolute necessity of having certified managers and special rules governing the operation of mines, and, acting on his advice, the Mines Regulation Act of 1874 came into force. Mining was now taking actual shape in our Province. The next in order are the works at Little Glace Bay, E.P. Archbold having acquired areas in this vicinity, work was commenced in 1858 under management of Henry Mitchell. A small wharf was built at which scows were loaded, and from these the coal was transferred to schooners lying in the offing. The old French workings of a century and a quarter earlier were re-opened at Burnt Head, in what is now known as the Hub seam, and a small shaft, known as the Harbour pit (from which the Harbour seam takes its name), was opened near the present bridge on Commercial street, Glace Bay.
Great differences of opinion as to when the weather was fit for loading occurred between the manager and the mutinous crews of the scows - the manager's idea being to get the scows cleaned for re-loading, while the idea of the crew was to fill in time and draw a day's pay. Some of their descendants are still with us. Stories are told of pitched battles between the land forces on the wharf and the naval forces afloat, in which the output of the mine figured as ammunition to such an extent that it was at last decided that this was too expensive a means of transportation, and the company known as Little Glace Bay Mining Company was incorporated in 1861. Sinking of the Hub shaft on the Hub seam was commenced, the Rooste houses were erected, Sterling Shaft was started, and dredging of the Glace Bay harbour on a well-defined plan was commenced. Jetties at the mouth were built out to a depth of 18 feet of water. Railway lines to connect the new shafts of the Hub
and Stirling with the harbour were built and a veritable hive of industry was opened up in the Glace Bay district. Mr. Charles Rigby was the manager of the company when the property was absorbed by the Dominion Coal Company in 1893.
This same year, 1861, saw the commencement of mining near the present site of the town of Bridgeport under a company incorporated under the name of the Union Mines. This company was the successor of Messrs. McLeod and Caddigan, who had opened slopes and shipped coal from a small wharf in Deadman's cove for some few years previously. As they never seemed to agree between themselves, they employed Mr. George E. Burchell as partner and general manager of the venture, and shipping was successfully carried on under his direction for a number of years.
In 1864 this company, under the presidency of Gen. Strong, with A. C. Morton as chief engineer, commenced the survey of a railway line from the pit mouth to Sydney; James T. Burchell was employed in a junior capacity in this survey. The usual fate overtook this venture, and in 1869 it was re-organized under the presidency of A. C. Morton, under whose regime the sinking of the International shaft and the construction of the railway to Sydney were commenced. William Routledge, who had been manager of Lingan mines since the year 1865, was employed as manager, and in commemoration of the turning of the first sod of the shaft and the railway he gave a luncheon at the MacKenzie House in Sydney to his most intimate acquaintances in the mining game. It may be of some interest to give the names of his guests on that occasion. They were as follows: A. C. Morton, President, International Coal & Railway Company; Duncan McDonald, Contractor, Coal & Railway Company; Henry Poole, Manager, Caledonia Mines; William Routledge, Manager, Union Mines; George E. Burchell, Manager, International Mines; J. P. Lawson, Manager, Victoria Mines; Alfred MacKay, Secretary, International Mines; A. M. Cody, Engineer, International Mines; J. W. Jennings, Engineer, International Mines; James T. Burchell, Engineer, International Mines; David MacKeen, Collector of Port Caledonia. With the exception of Mr. James T. Burchell, these gentlemen have all passed away.
The railway was completed and now forms part of the Sydney and Louisburg Railway. It appears, however, that this company was like the proverbial young bear and its troubles were all ahead of it. In 1877 the property was seized by the sheriff at the instance of Duncan McDonald, the contractor of the railway. For a time it was worked by his nephew, known as Clan Ranald McDonald, and was soon after leased by Robert Belloni, who employed John Johnstone as manager, with Patrick Neville as underground manager and Alex. McEachern as overman. It was during Mr. Belloni's lease that he conceived the idea of connecting all the mines then in operation with Louisburg harbour by rail, and to that end he had a railway survey made from International Mines to Louisburg, following the shore for the greater distance. Eventually this property came into the hands of Hugh McLennan, of Montreal, through a judgment obtained by the Banque Jacques Cartier. Mr. McLennan's son, the present Senator John S. McLennan, assumed managership of the mine and conducted it with much success until it was sold to the Dominion Coal Company, of which John S. McLennan was one of the original promotors and its first treasurer. Some years before the actual flotation of the present Dominion Coal Company, Mr. McLennan propounded a scheme in line with the present system of operation, and, with that end in view, he employed a promising young engineer named P. L. Nainsmith to locate an extension of the International Railway to Louisburg. Mr. Nainsmith located a line which was practically that followed by the engineers of the present Sydney and Louisburg Railway. He continued in the employ of the Dominion Coal Company after the consummation of the merger, having charge of operation of railway and shipping, and showed himself to be a man far above the average in ability. His talents, however, were not appreciated in this vicinity, and he emigrated to Western Canada where he attained fame and fortune, and is still enjoying a reputation as one of those who have contributed one big man's share towards the making of Canada.
Further along shore, near the south end of Lingan bar, a slope had been opened and a shaft sunk by the General Mining Association many years prior to this. These openings
were connected with a shipping pier on the south side of Lingan Gut by a line of railway across the beach. The community was known as "down along" - being "down along" shore - for some time after its founding, but was eventually named Bridgeport after Robert Bridge, the cashier of the company and a lineal descendent of the original firm of Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell. These operations were carried on under the management of George E. Burchell, but were closed down many years before the cancellation of the G.M.A. lease. After lying dormant for a number of years, the Bridgeport shaft and area were first leased, and finally sold, to Henry Mitchell, by whom mining was carried on with much success until the absorption of the property by the Dominion Coal Company in 1893.
The Gardiner mines, still farther west, were opened by the Gardiner Mining Company of Montreal, with William Routledge as manager. Mr. Routledge is a mining engineer whose works and writings have contributed greatly to our knowledge of mines and minerals in Cape Breton. He was successively manager of Lingan, International, Gardiner, and Reserve mines. He was a member of the Provincial Mine Examining Board, and died suddenly in 1895 while on his way to attend a meeting of that Board.
The Gardiner mines continued in operation until 1871, when all work ceased. Taken over and re-opened some thirteen years later by Mr. James T. Burchell, the property was sold to the Dominion Coal Company in 1893, and closed soon after. This mine was worked on a seam which has been proved as the lowest of the workable seams in the Glace Bay basin, and it is the most westerly of the openings yet attempted. This practically exhausts the Morien and Glace Bay basins, and brings us to the Low Point-Lingan areas, now known as the New Waterford areas.
For some years prior to its acquisition by the Dominion Coal Company, the Low Point-Lingan district was worked by the Low Point, Barrasois, and Lingan Mining Company, a subsidiary of the General Mining Association, with T. J. Brown as manager. At the extreme southern end of this basin, the Lingan slopes were opened in the early days, and a mere prospecting outfit was maintained there until 1865,
when William Routledge was appointed manager of Lingan. Under his management new slopes were opened, a railway from pit mouth to a safe shipping port was built, and a mining plant installed. At about the same time the opening of the Barrasois seam at Barrasois pond was commenced. A slope was opened on the north side of the pond, and the haulage engine erected on the south side. The two were connected by a trestle across the upper end of the pond. The idea was to dredge the pond to a depth sufficient to float schooners, which were to be laid up alongside of the trestle. Here they were to be loaded direct from the mine tubs, as they came from the slope mouth. This proved to be another bright idea, which drifted out on the fogs off the coast and was lost in the blue haze.
William Routledge was succeeded by Donald Lynk as manager of Lingan. In 1883 the famous Lingan strike occurred, and shortly afterwards the Lingan pits were allowed to fill and the G.M.A. devoted its entire energies in this basin to the new Victoria slopes. As has been mentioned already, these had been first opened in 1865 by the Rev. Hugh Ross, and the seam had been named by him the Ross seam. This opening of Victoria slopes by Mr. Ross was the first attempt at sub-marine mining on the Island.
In 1870 the Victoria Mines Railway was opened to South Bar, and shipments commenced in due form. This continued until 1882 when New Victoria was opened on a larger scale and all modern improvements, such as strikes committees and P.W.A. resolutions, were introduced. The operations were carried on under Donald Lynk's management and a lot of exploratory work between Lingan and Low Point was done at the same time under the direction of Donald Lynk, William McNamara (father of John McNamara), and the late Patrick Neville.
Rumours at that date were rife concerning the location of the world-famous Mullin's seam, but its position was never fixed until, by special request, the author of this epistle took the matter up and, in an article to the local press, settled once and for ever this much mooted question. At least he thought he did, but recent press notices credit this seam with a new resting place between Mullin's farm and South Bar.
The Crandall seam and the Paint seam were located and named by Crandall and Henry N. Paint who were actively engaged in coal mining in this vicinity during these years. Victoria mines enjoyed a long season of prosperity under the successive management of Donald Lynk, Joseph Hudson, Robert Robson, and T. J. Brown, until 1899, when it was closed by the then management of the Dominion Coal Company. Since that date the abandoned railway has been handed over to the county authorities for use as an auto road, the whole peninsula between Sydney harbour and Lingan basin has been opened up, a new railway connection with International pier in Sydney harbour has been built, and the town of New Waterford erected. As the whole of this area from Sydney harbour to Mira bay is now practically under control of this great corporation, a word in connection with its birth may be in order.
In the year 1893 the formation took place of the Dominion Coal Company, by which practically all the coal areas south of Sydney harbour were consolidated under one management. Various claimants aspire to the honour of having started or suggested the formation of the company. F. N. Gisborne, D. J. Kennelly, and the Hon. J. S. McLennan each had the idea. As late as 1892, A. C. Ross and his associates were incorporated under the Cape Breton Coal Shipping Company with an amalgamation idea very similar to that which was consummated a year later, by what was known as the Whitney syndicate. As a matter of fact, business conditions were such that the coal trade could no longer be carried on under the old regime. With our shores strewn with the wrecks of a dozen small shipping wharves, with competition so keen between a score of small rival concerns that prices would no longer pay running expenses, with each new influx of capital swallowed up in repairs and maintenance, with valuable properties sold and resold by the sheriff for a mere fraction of cost, some system of re-organization was inevitable. It was self-preservation that first suggested the formation of the Dominion Coal Company. All stories of mixing of mail matter through similarity of names, about "fortuitous circumstances", and other hot-air anecdotes, belong to the realm of romance. The mines in operation which were absorbed by the Dominion Coal company were as follows:
Colliery Company Manager Bridgeport Henry Mitchell Henry Mitchell Caledonia Caledonia Coal & Railway Company David McKeen Gardiner John E. and Jas. T. Burchell Jas. T. Burchell Glace Bay Glace Bay Mining Company Chas. Rigby Gowrie Archibald and Company Chas. Archibald International International Coal & Railway Company Jos. Hudson Ontario Halifax Coal & Iron Company John Sutherland Reserve Sydney & Louisburg Coal & Railway Company D. J. Kennelly Victoria Low Point, Barrasois, & Lingan Company J. Brown.
In this honour list must be included the name of Chas. Mitchell, who was associated with his father at Bridgeport and who is still happily spared to enliven us with his humorous stories of men and methods of his earlier years; while Messrs. Isaac and George Greenwell still hold the stage as honoured members of our Society. "
Of these mines, the Bridgeport, Gardiner, Ontario, Glace Bay, Gowrie, and Victoria were soon afterwards closed, as it was thought that sufficient coal for all markets obtainable could be produced from the remainder.
As already mentioned, the late Mr. David MacKeen, afterwards Lieut. Governor of the Province, was the first general manager of the company, and Senator John S. McLennan was treasurer. The head office was in Boston. In 1901 Canadian interests obtained control, and, with James Ross as president, a new system of management was installed under the general managership of Cornelius Shields, who in May, 1901, succeeded Hiram Donkin. T. J. Brown, who at this date was mine superintendent of the Dominion Coal Company, resigned to assume the position of general manager of Scotia Mines. He was succeeded by an American mining engineer named Karl Ludwig. Mr. Shields resigned in September, 1902, and was succeeded by G. H. Duggan, who in turn was succeeded by D. H. McDougall, the present vice-president and general manager of the British Empire Steel Corporation. H. J. McCann fills the position of manager of the Coal Company at present date.
Prominent among the many names in the official directory of this company are those of A. J. Tonge and Walter Herd, two English mining engineers of wide repute; John Johnstone, Alex. McEachem, M. A. McInnis, and Alex. McDonald, native-born Cape Bretonians, who have filled positions as
superintendents of the various districts; F. W. Gray, whose writings furnish an imperishable monument to his genius; and our Society's vice-president, Alex. S. McNeil.
On the northern side of the harbour, the main works have been carried on without interruption since the days of the General Mining Association, under the successive management of Richard Brown, his son R. H. Brown, and Thomas J. Brown. At present this district is controlled by the British Empire Steel Corporation. Many small ventures by private individuals have been born, and have bloomed and faded with the regularity of the flowers that bloom in the spring. Among these may be mentioned the Greener mine, opened originally by John Greener, an English mining engineer, who first appeared as manager of Vale colliery in Pictou county. This mine was later worked by the North Sydney Mining and Transportation Company, and is at present operated by the Indian Cove Coal Company. The latter company now operates the Greener pit, on the shore of Sydney harbour, and the Tom Pit, where the Indian cove seam crosses the Canadian National Railway. Others of these small mines are the MacKay, but recently worked by William A. MacKay; and the Collins. The last-named was originally opened by Patrick Collins, by whom it was sold to Messrs. Guthro and Laffin, and by them to George L. Dix; then followed re-organization under the Toronto Mining Company, and work was resumed with George Scott as manager; but shortly afterwards operations ceased and the property remained idle for many years until re-opened by W. A. MacKay, who in turn passed it over to the Bras d'Or Mining Company,
The New Campbellton mine, originally opened in 1862 by the Hon. C. J, Campbell, passed through many vicissitudes, having lain dormant at one period for many years until re-opened by Messrs. Burchell in 1894, when for a short time this company shipped both coal and dolomite from the same pier. At present the property is again active under the management of the Anglo Coal Company, of which John C. Douglas, ex-M.P., is chief officer,
The Ingraham mine, opened on the northern side of Little Bras d'Or, the Matheson, Black Rock, Stubbert, and Lloyd's Cove, are a few more openings over which the Atlantic
waves sing a requiem. During these same years much effort was spent in prospecting for iron ore at East Bay and Loch Lomond by E. T. Mosely, while George's River district was explored by Mr. Ingraham. Rumours of coal in Glengarry district found many followers. Coal actually was found there in 1863, but although well-nigh sixty years have since passed, no seam of sufficient definiteness to induce the necessary capital for working it has yet been located. Much labour of an exploratory nature has been expended in Glengarry areas by Messrs. Wilson, Lawlor and John Barrington, of North Sydney, and many boreholes have been sunk in the Salmon fiver and Mira districts by Cotterell and others, but without other than negative results in these last named localities - Glengarry, however, still has many enthusiastic champions and may become a producer of commercial importance.
In Richmond county, Sea Coal mine at River Inhabitants Basin, and a seam at Little river some three miles inland, were opened up at considerable cost. The former has been worked spasmodically for the past thirty years and is to-day being exploited. The latter was opened in 1865 by a shaft some sixty feet in depth, which was connected with tide water by a railway three miles in length. For some reason this shaft was never used, and the company was still-born. On one occasion the Springhill Company, of Cumberland county, became obsessed with the idea of opening a coal mine in Cape Breton. Here was a mine all ready and very much for sale.
One Alexander Dick, our own Sandy, was than a young man, with exalted ideas of his ability as a mining engineer; and during a fit of temporary aberration, this company employed Sandy to inspect and report on this mine. Alexander arrived at Port Hawkesbury arrayed in knickerbockers, with regulation stockings, large buckle low shoes, deer-stalker hat, and all else ad lib. Suspended in festoons around him were the usual small leather cases containing compass, barometer, thermometer, micrometer, and every other ometer known to science. An old fashioned rig was there to meet him, and Sandy, being young at the game, commenced to take chips off the old fashioned driver. On the way to the prospect he criticised the horse, the harness, and even the beard of the Prophet who was acting as Jehu; but Nemesis was waiting
just around the comer. Disdaining a suit of oilskins, Alexander divested himself of all superfluous gear and descended by a temporary tub and windlass which had been installed for his reception. Sandy was landed at the bottom of the pit, which he had been assured was quite dry, only to find some two feet of pit water awaiting his reception. The remarks which came up the shaft gave his hearers the impression that he had struck a twin gas feeder. On his return to the surface he expressed himself volubly concerning the mine, the water in it, the owners (of whom three were present), and everything else within range; when one of them interjected, "Then you don't think you'll buy the mine?" Sandy's reply, which is un-printable, convinced them that, in his then frame of mind, such was not his intention; whereupon his interlocutor remarked "Then you walk hom', you son ---", and, suiting action to the word, the three of them bundled hastily into the old wagon and, putting the gad to their aged equine, they left dripping-wet Alexander festooned with all his mining gear a long seven miles from home. Since that date Mr. Dick has carefuly refrained from expressing an opinion of prospective purchases until he is safely ensconced in his office chair.
Inverness county has also offered inducement to the investor and prospector. A seam of coal at Port Hood was opened in 1865 and for some years spasmodic efforts were made to establish a mining industry. Reports at that date refer to the safe harbour nearby. This was true at that date, as a bar at the northern end of Smith's island connected the island with the mainlaind and formed a perfectly safe harbour, until the fishermen opened a channel through the bar in order to bring their fishing boats to a safe anchorage without going around the island. Unfortunately, the elements finished the work and washed the bar completely away, so that but little protection is offered at present. In 1900 this mine was again opened under the management of John Johnstone, and it was steadily worked by Mr. Johnstone and his successors until 1911, when a feeder of salt water broke through and completely flooded the workings. Re-opened on a small scale by Malcolm Beaton and his associates in 1918, it was again about to be closed in 1921 when the United Mine Workers undertook to keep it in operation, and actually did work it
for a few weeks from August 12th until Sept. 16th, when they abandoned their maiden effort at mine management and the mine again reverted to its original owners, with its future beclouded by mechanics leins, judgments, injunctions, and various other legal handicaps.
Twelve miles north by rail from Port Hood is the village of Mabou, and down shore some five miles is the site of Mabou mine. This mine was opened in the early sixties by Hugh E. Ross and others. Lack of transportation facilities of any kind caused its early abandonment. In 1893 the Mabou Coal and Gypsum Company opened up some gypsum quarries in the vicinity and made a feeble effort to work the coal mines in conjunction therewith. Their methods of working would be laughable were it not for the serious side presented to the investors. Eventually the shareholders took action and landed more than one of the chief officers in durance vile as a result of a conviction for fraud and mis-management.
In 1901 Mabou was again opened by a company which seemed to be possessed of unlimited capital. They built houses, installed all plant and machinery, erected a shipping pier in Mabou harbour, and connected it by rail with their works. They continued in active operation until 1908 when someone pulled the string and the curtain fell. The local government took hold, and through its Mines Department undertook to keep the mine pumped out. This they did from Sept. 4th, 1908, to January 17th, 1909, when a serious leakage in the workings near the shore developed. For some reason, the officials of the Mines Department made no effort to stop this flow, and in seven days time the whole mine was completely flooded and has remained so ever since.
Along shore another seventeen miles, and we reach Inverness, where collieries were first opened in 1865 by Blanchard and McCully, under the name of Broad Cove Mines. The usual scow and schooner method of shipment was introduced, and the usual failure followed. After some years of patient endeavour, the mine was abandoned until 1893, when a company, organized by A. C. Ross under the name of the Boston and Nova Scotia Coal Company, undertook to open the mine and connect it by rail with tide water at the Strait of Canso. This company, of which the writer was chief engineer, struggled
manfully through the great financial depression of 1893-96, when, in company with many other enterprises of these fateful years, it was relegated to the bone yard, to be revived a few years later by Messrs. Mann, MacKenzie and Company, who with Government assistance built the railway and opened up the mine, which they have kept in operation ever since. Unfortunately it is now in the hands of the Receiver, and is being operated for the benefit of the bondholders.
Twelve miles further north, on a small basin known as St. Rose, a pit is being kept open for local consumption. The operating company at one time had visions of a rail connection with the C.N.R. at Orangedale, but their efforts only extended to the location of a route via Lake Ainslee.
Some four miles on and we reach Chimney Corner mines, the most northerly of the Inverness group, opened by Mr. Evans in early days. Backed by English capital and with a small sheltered cove in which a shipping pier was built, it enjoyed a season of prosperity, extending over some seven years. Then, on March 3rd, 1873, a fire destroyed all surface workings, and a few months later the August gale demolished the shipping pier, and put an end to all coal mining efforts on that side of the Island for many years. Operations have been revived within recent years under the guidance of Dr. Chilsolm, M.P., of Inverness, with Mr. Evans, a son of the original manager, in charge, and the management is still cheerfully looking a payroll in the face.
The mineral products of the Island are not confined to coal alone. Copper mines at Cheticamp were extensively explored; gypsum quarries at various points were opened up; borings for oil were carried on at Lake Ainslee for many years; talc, or soapstone, was discovered at Brigend, near Whycocomagh, and alongshore at Kennington cove. Iron ore areas were taken up, and much money was spent in proving them, while gold was discovered and actually worked at Cheticamp and Middle River. Plumbago (graphite) mines at rear of Benacadie have engaged the attention of mining engineers on several occasions. N.J. Brown is credited with the discovery of marble deposits at West Bay, from which locality the Dominion Iron and Steel Company has drawn its supplies of limestone for many years. It seems to be the fate of all new
mineral discoveries to be grossly exaggerated in the first reports, and in this case we have no exception, as the original reports of this marble claim that, for building and ornamental purposes, it is comparable with the world-famous Vermont and Tennessee marbles.
In early days Caleb Huntington developed a deposit of brick-clay on the south side of Mira river, and found a market for his product in the growing town of Lingan. This brick yard has been worked intermittently ever since. A deposit of material from which splendid samples of fire brick have been made has been opened near Leitches creek. To develop this, the Scotia Fire Brick Company, with the late Graham Fraser at its head, was incorporated, and work of an extensive nature planned, when the sudden death of Mr. Fraser upset all plans of the promoters. Nearby areas have since been developed by the D. I. S. Co., and a large quantity of fire brick has been manufactured.
The East Bay silver-lead mines loom on the horizon, at intervals, but even the eloquence of E. J. Brown (another of the same name), in his descriptive articles, has failed to galvanize them into active operation. The late Hector F. McDougall, for many years Federal Representative of Cape Breton county, spent the greater part of his energetic life in prospecting the mineral wealth of his native county.
One other mine which passed the mere development stage is the Coxheath copper mine. Opened in 1863 by Jas. MacKenzie, it was brought to the notice of Isaac P. Gragg; of Boston, when that gentleman was interested in Lake Ainslie oil wells in 1881. Extensive development was carried on under successive managements for some twenty years or more, but for what cause I know not: the actual working of the mine as a copper producer was always deferred. This undertaking enjoyed a reputation as a producer of works of fiction. One gentleman, lately returned from Arizona, was fond of relating a story of a dark night, a deep glen on the Coxheath road, a bag of dollars for the payroll, a hold-up by masked men, a lot of real-sure-enough gun play, and a rapid retreat of Robin Hood's descendants. As this was during the good old Scott Act days, when fighting whiskey was to be had for the asking, it is staggering to think of what might have happened
if this show had been staged on present-day 'moonshine'. Just one more story to end this dreary tale, and I will ring off. There lived a character who owned a saw mill and supplied various mines with timber. He was generally known as "Ugly Duncan". I have seen the gentleman, and can vouch for it that he earned the title. His specialty was a huge mouth. When speaking to him I was always afraid that, when he opened his mouth to speak, the top of his head would fall over backwards. Upon one occasion Duncan took a contract to supply certain timber to one of the mining companies, and finding that he was losing money, he was desirous of breaking the contract. The company was obdurate and insisted upon his living up to the terms of the contract. Duncan questioned the terms, and asked to see the contract. The obliging clerk produced the document, and spreading it before him, said, "Them is your contract; read it for yourself". Duncan did not waste any time reading it; he simply grabbed it, stuffed it into his mouth, and swallowed it. This was before the discovery of the X-ray treatment, so the contract has not been read since .....
With but few exceptions, these men of the mining game have passed off the stage. They cheerfully spent their time and money in an effort to wrest from Nature's store-house the treasures which would add to the comfort and convenience of men. Their failures are but stepping-stones for the rearguard of the vast industrial army which is ever moving towards the light, and of which our Mining Society is no mean unit. It is not the lust of gain alone which leads men out into the world's waste spaces; it is the un-named creek, the lure of the lonely silence, the long lost trail, the call of the wild - and so long as there comes a story of fresh treasure just beyond, the race will supply the man. As one of our Western poets has put it,
"So long as Klondyke widows trail
History does not relate the name of the lady who got the jewellery, but certain it is that King George IV (while Prince of Wales) and his brother, the Duke of York, had 'run their necks' with a firm of London jewellers to such an
extent that King George, through his said brother, handed over all the minerals in Nova Scotia to Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell, in liquidation of their claim. Out of this was evolved the General Mining Association, commonly known as the G.M.A.
For half a century they exercised their monopoly, and unfortunately, in this case, it was the inhabitants of our Island who paid. It was the selfish enforcement of their rights which acted as an incentive to the men on the outside, for "the dream of the white man ever goes out to the fight that can never be won", and the men of that day were the men who knew not how to fail. To-day we honour their memory, and a half' century hence, let us hope that the men who are still carrying on will be able to look back to this day and say, "God be thanked; whatever comes after, we have lived and toiled with men".
MR. A. S. MCNEIL: Mr. Odell's papers have always been a great stimulant to the meetings of this Society. They are always full of humour and very deep and valuable information: indeed, they are the attraction that a great many of us have in coming here. His present paper connects our past mining history with the present. It makes men of my own age ponder a little and look back. When I think of some of the names that Mr. Odell mentions, I begin to realize I am not as young as I used to be. The paper gives us a good idea of what was being done some years ago. Whether in the morning of our mining career, or in the evening of our life, we will always be glad to hear a paper by Mr. Odell.
HON. R. DRUMMOND: I shall not attempt to spoil the effect produced by the reading of Mr. Odell's excellent paper. I would call it an encyclopaedia, almost, of mining events in Cape Breton. But there are one or two important omissions. He did not give us any account of perhaps the greatest mining association that was ever formed in Cape Breton. They called it the Cape Breton Mining Association, and it was started for the purpose of showing that they could mine coal without the assistance of the Provincial Workmen's Association. In that they failed, and went into voluntary liquidation in four or
five years. He did not make any mention of a person named Charles Odell, who was the only man who could tether the Mullin's seam for twenty-four hours in the same place. Then again, while stating that a certain inspector of mines was the first to recommend the granting of certificates of competency to mining officials, he omitted to show you how surroundings may affect a person by pointing out that this same inspector was the chief opponent of the granting of certificates when the Bill came before the Legislature.
MR. F. E. LUCAS: As this is not a matter of deep technical discussion, I feel free on that account to rise, and in rising I take very great pleasure in moving that a vote of thanks of this Society be extended to Mr. OdeIl for his excellent, instructive, and entertaining paper. I am sure that to me, as well as to those of us who for so many years have not been very intimately connected with mining, it is especially interesting from the historical view point. I am sure it is a paper that in after-years will be as highly prized as, or perhaps more highly prized than, any other proceeding of the Mining Society.
MR. JOHN MOFFATT: We have listened to such a feast of good things that we do not like to get up and spoil it. We were all anxious to hear Mr. Odell's paper. The man who inquires into the past and brings on the stage different characters, as he has done in such an instructive and interesting way, is a very worthy man. There are, at the meeting to-day, a number of those he speaks of. On looking back, it seems like a long time. First he touched on Mr. Drummond. Mr. Drummond has been in this country a great many years. Mr. Odell has talked of men I have heard of after I came to this country. I never saw them, but it was interesting to me. It was very laughable to hear him describe one of my friends, Alex, Dick. He and I used to go to Jake Johnson's school. Instead of learning lessons at school, we learned stories about the Indians in the west. It shows Mr. Odell's ability to picture things and place them in their right positions. The Mining Society is greatly indebted to Mr. Odell. If Pictou and Cumberland counties could be written about in the same manner, we would have the beginning of a very interesting history of practical mining work in Nova Scotia. Those who come after us will
read the story with a great deal of interest. It is very necessary that it should become part of the history of the mining industry of Nova Scotia. It is all right to read Mr. Brown's book. Nothing much has been added to that, but a great deal has been added this afternoon to our knowledge of the history of the practical work of mining.
HON. ROBT. DRUMMOND: Each member of this Society should be given a copy of the paper in pamphlet form.
MR. C. M. ODELL: I think we can arrange that with Mr. Mackenzie, the Secretary of the Institute. Vigourous complaint was made at the last meeting that some of the papers were never published. When we became affiliated with the Mining Institute we had the understanding that they would be published. I do not know whether we count very much or not. Prior to that, all these discussions were printed immediately after the Annual Meeting. The only thing to do is to get after Mr. Mackenzie, who is expected here to-day. I think we will introduce him to Mr. Drummond, and he will probably get what is coming to him then.
HON. E. H. ARMSTRONG: I have listened with very intense interest to this paper. I hope the Society will come to some determination by which we may have Chapter Two. It would be a very happy appendix to this very valuable work. We have too little mining literature. This paper of Mr. Odell's ought to be perpetuated in some form or other. I hope some steps will be taken by the Society to have this printed as Chapter One; and have Chapter Two cover Pictou and Cumberland counties. I assure you, Mr. Chairman, that I take a great deal of pleasure in seconding this motion. I have been simply captivated by this paper. It is a splendid history, and it ought to be continued. The Nova Scotia Historical Society in Halifax does a great deal to perpetuate historical papers, and I hope Mr. OdeIl will be induced to write Chapter Two, and also Chapter Three if necessary.
MR. STUART MCCAWLEY: I think that what Mr. Armstrong has said is very important. The Nova Scotia Historical Society has published a lot of valuable documents in the past, and I do not see why we have not a branch of it in Cape Breton. I know another gentleman, connected with mining, who has a
paper that should be published but which has not been read yet. It is wonderful. It would make a wonderful history of Cape Breton, but he does not feel like spending the money. If we had a branch of the Nova Scotia Historical Society in Cape Breton we would get a lot more papers like Mr. Odell's, and get the Cape Breton end published. It is just as important as the Halifax end, although Cape Breton is hardly mentioned there. I think the last Cape Breton article was one by Senator McLennan, on the City of Louisburg, about 16 or 17 years ago. I hope Mr. Armstrong, when he goes back home, will tell them that it is suggested that we have a branch down here to assist in getting papers like Mr. Odell's, and others that I know of, put in such form that they will be preserved.
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