The year 1873 will be ever memorable in the history of our coal mining as the one wherein occurred the first serious disaster, occasioned by an explosion of gas, resulting in greater destruction of life and property than any similar occurrence that ever happened in any mine in America.
I have thought it sufficient this year to publish the list of fatal accidents only and merely to mention that besides those which resulted in the death of seventy-three men, twenty-four accidents were reported as having caused the maiming or injuring of thirty-one other persons.
In the following tabular statement the relative position which the mines of Nova Scotia bear to those of England and Pennsylvania is shown. Comparatively it is unsatisfactory even when the averages are computed without taking into account the loss of life occasioned by the Drummond explosion. It shows the indubitable necessity for greater attention being paid to the subject; more especially since it has been demonstrated that care has much improved the condition of English mines:
England. Pennsylvania. Nova Scotia. 1872. 1872. 1873. Produce in Tons 123,393,853 18,929,263 1,051,467 Persons employed 418,088 70,000 4,362 Fatal accidents 894 - - - 13 Lives lost 1,060 222 73 averages: Persons emp'd per accident 468 - - - 315 Persons emp'd per life lost 394 315 59 Tons raised per accident - 138,024 - - - 80,882 Tons raised per life lost - 116,409 80,762 14,403
TABLE OF FATAL ACCIDENTS.
LIST OF LIVES LOST BY THE DRUMMOND COLLIERY
MARRIED--James Dunn, manager; Joseph Richardson, overman; John Bowens, deputy; John Bennett, George Burney, John Campbell, Colin C. Chisholm, James Dalling, Robert Dunbar, John Dunn, Philip Dunn, John T. Elliott, John Ellis, John Emery, Henry Freeman, Hugh Gillis, Samuel Hale, John McElvie, Sr., Hugh McGillivray, Hugh McDonald, David McNeil, John McNeil, Jr., James McPherson, Jr., James Ramsay, Angus Smith and John Walton, miners; Roderick McCharles, carpenter; Andrew Collin, volunteer fireman; Edward Burns, Thomas Glenwright and Abraham Guy, volunteer miners.
SINGLE.--Timothy Howatt, volunteer; Archibald Cameron, Kenneth Cameron, Harvey Campbell, William Elliott, John Fraser, Duncan Halliday, Matthew Lyall, John Manning, Daniel J. McDonald, Duncan McDonald, John McDonald No. 1, John McDonald No. 2, Colin McDonald, John McElvie, Jr., Oliver McLeod, John McRichey, Duncan McRae, Alexander Murray, Nicholas O'Brien, Alexander Purvis, Jr., William Rodgers, Edward Ruddick, Donald Shaw, John Sinclair, D. McFarlane Stewart, George Stewart, and James Webb, miners; Edward Jones, boy.
CAUSE OF ACCIDENTS AND LIVES LOST.
Explosions of gas, 60; falls of coal, 4; falls in slopes, 3; crushed on surface railways, 4; miscellaneous, 2; total 73.
EXPLOSIONS OF GAS.
Accident No. 4. It is my painful duty to record under this head the occurrence of a lamentable disaster at the Drummond Colliery of the Intercolonial Co. on the 13th May. In a previous part of the report reference is made to the condition of the mine at the time of the accident. The following is a summary of the evidence recorded by the Coroner, as deduced at the inquest on the body of John Dunn, a miner.
DRUMMOND COLLIERY EXPLOSION.
Inquest, held at Westville on Wednesday and Thursday, May 14th and 15th, 1873, before the Coroner Dr. Johnstone, and a jury of 12 persons. Mr. Poole, the Government Inspector of Mines, was present, and Mr. Rutherford watched the proceedings on behalf of the owners of the colliery.
The Coroner.--Addressing the Inspector :--" I have secured the services of Mr. J. W. Carmichael as foreman of the jury, and although two or three of the jurymen are in positions that would prevent them serving, were the Mines Regulation Act now in force, I think you will find them honest men who will faithfully do their duty." No objection being raised, the Coroner called
Thomas Lowther, who said: "I am the overman at the Black Diamond Colliery worked by the Nova Scotia Company. While sitting at dinner on the 13th inst. I heard the noise of a slight explosion. Being told by one of our men that an explosion had taken place at the Drummond Colliery, I proceeded to the scene of the disaster and about one o'clock entered the mouth of No. 1 slope. When I got down about 100 feet I found the stopping in the heading into No. 2 slope blown out and the smoke so thick that I returned, got some brattice, and with six other men again went down. While at work we heard the groans of men further down the slope. We pushed on, got hold of one man, but were so overpowered by the smoke that we had to leave him, and with difficulty made our way to the surface. Shortly after we got up she blasted the second time."
Alexander Lorimer."--I am night fireman at the Drummond Colliery. My duty is to see in the evening, when I go down, that the men have left no fire in their bords, to examine the state of the mine before the men come down in the morning, and to meet the men at the cabin and give those of them safety lamps whose places require their use. I have been night watchman for about 10 months and am well acquainted with gas, having been brought up in old country mines where there was a good deal of gas. On the 12th May, I went down the mine between six and seven in the evening and examined all the places. In several bords I found gas lying, as was not unusual, and I informed the men, as I always did, who worked in those bords, and gave them their 'sulphur' lamps. The mine was in as good order as usual that night, and during the short time that the strike lasted the ordinary ventilation was maintained and no gas allowed to accumulate. In the morning I found a little gas lying in the lowest level on the South side, but not any in McLeod's (the adjoining level above) where the brattice was within 15 feet of the face. Boards with the word 'danger' painted on them are put in all unsafe places not in use, and strange workmen (new hands) are forbidden to enter the bords unless miners are with them. I have known men burned in consequence of disobeying this regulation. After the explosion occurred I returned to the mine and went down the pumping pit about two o'clock, having heard cries for help, and assisted John Bennet to the surface. James Hunter, who went down with me and remained at the bottom, came up in the next tub, bringing John Dunn who was very badly burnt. Edward Burns then went down with Timothy Howatt, and was in the act of coming up to report on the condition of the bottom of the pit when the second explosion caught him and hurled him to the surface, dead. I was unable to get quite to the bottom of the pit, as rubbish filled it up above the door heads. I helped Bennet clamber up among the timber."
James Dunstan.--" I am a cutter, and I went to work on the morning of the 13th inst. after an intermission of a few days. My bord is one of the upper bords of the lowest lift on the South side. Between 11 and 12 o'clock I got word that McLeod's level was on fire and that all hands were required to assist in putting it out. I went at once to the face of McLeod's level and helped to work at the fire, by throwing water and beating at the flame with wet bags, but we could do little as the smoke soon sickened us. We tried again, but were soon driven back. Joe Richardson then came and ordered all who were unwilling to assist any further to leave the pit. He at the same time led about twelve men through the lodgment into the low level to get at the fire from the main intake. Others of us rushed into the level and rescued three men who had fallen overpowered by the smoke, when Joe, who had come out to get breath, told us who remained to 'try and get those men out.' Joe went back to the fire and I waited at the mouth of the lodgment to help men up when they came out to take breath. Mr. Dunn then came along and asked where Joe was. I said, he has just returned into the level. Mr. Dunn said no more but left immediately for the slope. Just then she blasted. I threw myself down in a gutter and crawled to the lodgment, as I found I could not stand in the baffling air. When things became more quiet I made my way toward No. 1 slope, but found No. 2 choked with rubbish. The door leading into No. 1 slope I could not open; hearing some one speak on the other side I called out, but received no answer. Nearly exhausted I made my way back to the lodgment and called up the pumping pit. A tub was lowered to me and I went up. The air at the bottom of the pit was good. If men had immediately obeyed the order, that all who could give no assistance should leave, they would have had plenty of time to escape, as, I believe, the alarm was given to all hands. We are given about five pounds of powder at a time, and have to go to bank for more when required. As far as I am aware the pit was well ventilated, and to the best of my knowledge Joe Richardson always exercised great care in the management of the pit."
Robert McLeod.--" I went to work on the morning of the 13th inst., in the main level, No. 2 slope. The night fireman told me, as I was going in, that there were about 15 inches of gas in my place. (Lorimer said that he did not find any.) I found only six inches, and that on the high side. The brattice being close, there was less than usual. During the morning I fired two shots in the fall, and neither set fire to the gas. At about a quarter to twelve, I fired a shot in the bench on the low side. It did not blow well and the gas caught fire. We battled with the fire for about fifteen minutes, and had then to retire for fresh air. When we endeavored to return, we could not for the smoke. Joe Richardson, who then came along, said he would go in by way of the lodgment. We went with him and found the fire had caught the brattice. Joe sent me back to tell the man to start the pump, but who could not for the smoke. I returned, and was again sent out to send for Mr. Dunn. I did so by some boys going up in the rake and Mr. Dunn came down when the same rake returned. Joe, who had by this time got back to the lodgment, told me to call the men who were inside, (i. e. working on the north side), ' as it was a lost case.' I did so, and started immediately up the No. 1 slope. At the bottom, I met Mr. Dunn going in, and I told him I feared the pit was gone. When within 200 feet of the mouth, I felt her suck, (the air draw down); and throwing myself down, caught hold of the rail and so resisted the force of the blast. Some of the men ahead of me, were blown away by the blast. One of the men, I know, was my brother who was lost. I was assisted out by a man who came out of the No. 1 top landing."
In answer to the Inspector. "I always tried, as well as on this particular occasion, with my safety lamp, whether there was any lying gas, before I fired a shot. The gas has frequently caught fire from a fall shot, but only once before from a shot in the bench. I never had a shot to operate as the last shot did, that is, blow the coal in the back of the bench and not lift the front from the pavement. Had I been able to shovel away the coal from the face, I could have easily put out the fire. As the pit had been standing there was less water than usual in the barrels, but I have little doubt that the barrels would have been filled in the course of the day. (See A. McLeod's evidence.) About two months previously, Joe said there must be no more powder used in my level, as the day before the low level had caught fire from a shot. I replied, "that I would not work there then." He then told me to go on using it as he had no authority to say that I should be paid extra for wedging. I did not consider it unsafe to use powder, and I never said anything to Mr. Dunn on the use of powder in my level. In the low level powder was prohibited, and in both levels safety lamps were alone used. Before I left the level the first time smoke was backing down against the air."
In answer to Mr. Rutherford. "I have been employed in the Drummond mine, with the exception of sixteen months, ever since it commenced operations. I am perfectly acquainted with the use of the safety lamp as indicating gas, and have alone used it since my brother Andrew has worked with me. In my opinion, Richardson was a very careful man about the mine."
Andrew McLeod.--" I am a brother of Robert McLeod and was employed by him as his loader. We went down the pit about half past six on Tuesday morning, and the fireman handed me a sulphur lamp. We never worked with naked lights. On firing the third shot that morning the place took fire. All three of us worked hard for over a quarter of an hour, we then called for help, Two men came, I think Alexander Purvis was one of them. I was soon done out, and in a little while, as they could not succeed, we all went out to the landing. There were two barrels of water not far from the face, one full and the other half-full; there was also a sump with plenty of water, about 100 yards from the face. The only time that our level caught fire, since I have been working, was about six weeks ago when my brother put the fire out himself with his shirt. As I came away, I heard Joe direct to have all the men and horses out at once. I travelled up No. 1 slope and had just reached the mouth when the explosion occurred and I was knocked down."
This witness being young and inexperienced, was unable to give satisfactory replies to many questions put to him.
George McPherson.--" I am a coal cutter. I was working at the time of the explosion in the old top landing, No. 1 slope. There was nothing wrong with our bord, nor did we observe anything unusual when we went to work. We heard no alarm, and the first intimation we had that anything was wrong was the first blast which threw us down and put out our lights. We lit our lights and made our way along the top level to No. 1 slope. We found the timber torn away in the slope, the track smashed up, and the air very bad. Much smoke and heat made it hard to get along. We passed one man, whom I did not know, lying dead. Immediately afterwards the smoke cleared away and I saw a man a bit above us who proved to be R. McLeod. He was lying down and unable to rise. I helped him up the remainder of the way, my comrade being unable to give him any assistance !"
Adam Lorimer.--" I was at work on the morning of the 13th inst., as a coal cutter, in a bord in the lower lift workings on the north side. One of the deputies, Jack Bowens, ordered us to help to carry water to put out the fire which had kindled in McLeod's level. We went immediately and at the mouth of the landing of No. 1 slope, we met about 30 men who were standing talking. They allowed that the pit was on fire and that it was useless our going in. My brother and I then turned back to our bord to get our clothes. We told some men we met that the pit was on fire and all were warned to leave. Just as we reached our bord, she blasted, and we were knocked down but were uninjured. We found our way without lights up the gin-slant to the middle level and out on to the middle landing of No. 1 where we found the slope obstructed with tubs and rubbish. Crawling over the rubbish we came upon a number of men lying about, unable to walk, crying and groaning. We stumbled over some of them, but said nothing to them as we with difficulty made our way in the bad air. I think the men we passed were those we left talking at the lower landing when we turned back for our clothes. My brother helped me up the slope to nearly the top when he too became exhausted. I, finding I could go no further, said, 'Go, save yourself if you can and send me help.' Help came, and I was the last man to leave the slope, alive.
Edward Small.--" I was a shiftman at the Drummond colliery, and at noon on the 13th inst., was on my way to the furnace to eat my dinner, when I met Purvis and D. McNeil, who told me to return as McLeod's level was on fire. Purvis gave me two safety lamps and I went down. At the pumping pit we passed 20 men standing; we went through the door but could not get far as there was too much smoke. The brattice was then on fire. Bowens came along and told us to come round by the lodgment and get to the fire that way. We went back and met Richardson who said, 'Men follow me.' Joe (Richardson) sent me to the surface for more bags and buckets. I went and was prepared to go down again, when two other men came up and said, I was to help them take off the upper length of pipe in the pumping pit, that the water falling back might increase the current of air. We took it off and called down to start the pump (a Cameron steam pump) but received no answer from below. Just then the explosion took place.
John Lorimer.--" I am a coal cutter at the Vale Colliery. Previous to three weeks ago I worked at the Drummond and in the low level, next McLeod's. For the last month before I left I did not use powder but before that I did. I was prohibited from using it because it set the place on fire every time a shot was fired. I at the same time said I would not be responsible for using it, and the overman told me not to use it. I made less wages after I had ceased to use powder, being paid by the shift instead of by the yard I left because they would not give me the rate per yard that I asked. I considered McLeod's place was as dangerous a place to use powder in as my place was. When I stopped working the faces of both places were about square to one another. Sometimes I had much trouble in putting out fire after a shot, sometimes I was twenty to twenty five minutes. I had been the deputy overman three and a half years, but differed with Richardson and took the picks about two years ago. To speak candidly, I was fond of a glass."
By Mr. Rutherford.--" I consider the pit was well managed, There was always plenty of water and appliances provided for putting out fire. The sump was in the upper level but was handy for both levels."
Samuel B. Coxon.--" I am a Mining engineer of the County of Durham, England, one of the Directors of the Halifax Company who have lately taken possession of the Albion Mines I believe I have as large an experience in mining operations as any man in England. I arrived at the Drummond Colliery about 2 p. m. on the 13th inst. and found dense volumes of smoke issuing from the natural exits of the mine, precluding the possibility of saving life by means of those exits. Hearing that cries for help had been heard from the pumping pit, Mr. Hudson and I went there. On our arrival we found one man, (James Dunstan) being hauled up in a bucket by manual power. After which, other two were drawn up. Then four volunteers descended to prepare the way for larger gangs of men to search for any who might yet be alive in the mine. Mr. Hudson and I had determined to explore the pit with the hopes of saving life, and were waiting for our safety lamps and the report of the volunteer Burns as to the state of the bottom of the pit, when, as Burns was being drawn up, one of the most terrific explosions I have ever seen took place casting up the man and the bucket and overthrowing the gin and parts about the pit. The plan of the workings which we were studying at the time, was torn in our hands by the falling debris. After witnessing this explosion and the subsequent ones, I became convinced that every soul in the mine was lost, and to pursue further investigation in the mine was utterly useless. I then consulted with the other mining engineers present, as to the best and quickest mode of recovering the bodies, extinguishing the fire, and saving property. We, with one consent, determined to inundate the mine, which we attempted to accomplish by diverting the neighbouring brooks and applying every available volume of water. After further consultation, it was determined, that the most effectual means of checking the fire, was by closing all the downcast approaches to the mine which carried air to the flames. This we commenced to do after telegraphing to the Government Inspector of Mines for his authority. I have heard the previous evidence and am led to believe that the third shot fired by McLeod must have set fire to a heavy feeder of gas. As I never was in the mine, I cannot say that it was not safe to use powder in McLeods level. I think that the provisions of the new Mining Act, with regard to the use of powder, are not more stringent than has hitherto been the practice in the North of England, where a properly authorized person fires the shots, and he alone; he having first examined the place and adjacent places with a safety lamp."
Much of the above evidence was given in reply to questions put by the Inspector and the Foreman of the jury
The jury after a short deliberation, rendered the following verdict :--"That the said John Dunn, came to his death on the 13th inst., from an explosion of gas, in the Drummond Colliery, caused by the derangement of the ventilation of the mine arising from a fire in Robert MeLeod's level. We consider care was exhibited in the working of the mine; but we desire to express our regret that powder was permitted to be used in the level worked by Robert McLeod.
As the verdict states, it is truly to be regretted that the use of powder was permitted in the level worked by Robert McLeod. There cannot be a doubt but that the use of powder was the primary cause of the explosion, and the evidence, which is wonderfully full and complete considering the magnitude of the disaster, leaves little room for doubt but that the direct cause was either the ignorance or carelessness of the miners who were working in the level at the time. While we now know that the risk run by the use of powder was exceedingly great, it must be remembered when considering on whose shoulders rests the blame of the occurrence, that its use is general throughout the Province, except in the Foord pit, where the danger is peculiar on account of the liability of cutting heavy feeders of gas; further, the use of powder lessened the cost of production to the Company, and was not only not objected to, but required by the miners; and above all, there was then an entire absence of legal prohibition.
It should be also borne in mind, that competition had previously been sharp, prices low, and at the time the minds of the colliers were disturbed by the condition of the trade in England, and the high rate of wages there ruling. In short there was every inducement for so energetic a manager as the late Mr. Dunn to suppress any prudential fears he may have entertained, and run risks which he hoped by care and attention to divert from leading to serious accidents. The evidence at the inquest goes to show that the general arrangements for conducting the system of working adopted, were good, and although doubts on some points seem to have been held by Richardson, it would be manifestly unjust to impute either rashness, want of skill or care on the part of the manager because the use of powder was permitted. He was well aware that the mine was fiery and required exceptional care in its management, and while his arrangements were prepared to meet all ordinary contingencies arising from the proper use of powder, they could not be for its gross misuse in the hands of workman presumably skilful: men of whose good judgment on the occasion in question grave doubts may to say the least be entertained. To me it appears evident that through carelessness or a desire to save labour either the bench was not properly sheared on the low side, or the line of least resistance was misjudged and the hole for the shot bored too far from the face of the bench, Had it been otherwise the bench would have been lifted from the pavement and the coal so shaken that it could readily have been removed and a direct attack made on the place where the gas issued from the solid coal. McLeod in his evidence states that:--"The gas has frequently caught fire from a fall shot but only once before from a shot in the bench. I never had a shot to operate as the last shot did, that is, blow the coal in the back of the bench and not lift it from the pavement, Had I been able to shovel away the coal from the face I could have easily put out the fire."
The cause of the fire has been clearly shown by the evidence but what caused the untimely explosion? I am led to believe from the following reasons that the seat of the first explosion must have been to the rise of the middle level on the south side. The blast out of No. 2 slope was of double the force of that out of No. 1. To the deep, where the fire originated, Dunstan came out alive and little injured, and several of the men working at the fire, also must have made their way to the bottom of the pumping pit after the first explosion. While from the north side two pairs of men, from the extreme rise and extreme deep workings escaped unhurt. For some time before the explosion occurred smoke was seen coming out of No. 2 slope, and when the fire in McLeods level got strong the men working at it noticed that the air backed down into the level. It would therefore seem that No. 2 slope acted as the upcast from the fire, possibly by a door having been left open, and the pumping pit as the downcast; while the furnace was supplied with air by the overcast from the north side. This would cause the ventilation of the middle and rise workings on the south side to be checked and afford an opportunity for the accumulation of gas and the formation of an inflammable mixture, which, at length coming in contract with the furnace fire, would cause the first explosion. The second and subsequent ones were the natural consequences of the first. The first explosion having blown out the stoppings, the direction of the air current would be no longer controlled to course the workings and dilute the fire damp generated at the face; and the gas again accumulating, at length come in contact with the fire, and cause the second explosion. The concussion would extinguish the flame where the coal was not set on fire, and explosion would follow explosion until the flame spread throughout the workings and ignited every feeder of gas. The quantity of which given off must have been enormous to produce such terrific explosions so rapidly, and even the ordinary current of air, had it existed, after sweeping the faces on the south side would have been vitiated to a great extent. The quantity of air ordinarily circulating would probably amount to 20,000 feet per minute.
Several minor explosions occurred during the year which resulted in the burning of one or more men on each occasion; all happily unattended by fatal results. These explosions occurred at the Acadia, Caledonia, Lingan, Vale and Victoria Collieries, and were, according to the reports, due without exception, to individual carelessness or laxity of discipline, and on no occasion to sudden outbursts of gas or unaccountable causes.
In my last annual report I mentioned the reluctance shown by some agents to send to the Department reports on accidents. This reluctance is still noticeable, and I have had on several occasions to remind agents that it has been customary hitherto to send forward such reports. All my applications for information regarding particular cases met with a ready response on all except one occasion, when no notice was taken of my written request. A subsequent conversation with the agent led to an explanation of his course, and it appeared that knowing he could not be made to suffer for his refusal, the new Mines Regulation Chapter not being then in force, he considered he was justified in ignoring my right to make the application, and in declining to acknowledge in writing that gas had been allowed to accumulate during working hours in his mine to the peril of the workmen engaged therein. Or, in other words, to allow it to be supposed that the ventilation and discipline of his mine were not quite perfect. There is a natural desire on the part of agents having a professional reputation to maintain, to keep secret all delinquencies or occurrences likely to reflect on their credit. The knowledge that hereafter every failure from compliance with the spirit of the Act will be made public will, I trust induce all in responsible positions to strive to fulfil its requirements. I am convinced that in this country accidents of this class are, except in rare cases, quite inexcusable, and that a little increased care will reduce them to a minimum.
EXPLOSIONS OF POWDER.
Happily of the accidents reported to have injured some six men by explosions of powder, none terminated fatally, although some of the men wounded were severely burnt. At the Albion gold mine, Montagu, a charge that had missed fire exploded when am attempt to draw it was made and seriously injured two men. The attempt to unram a charge that has missed fire is now interdicted by the Mines Regulation Act, and subjects the transgressor to penalty.
At the Caledonia Colliery an accident resulted from the use of an iron stemmer to ram the first part of the tamping, by which the unfortunate miner lost his eyesight, beside suffering severe burns about the face. The mining law of Great Britain does not permit the use of iron stemmers for this purpose.
FALLS OF COAL.
The fatalities of this class were of the usual character and immediately arose from the oversight or negligence of the men who themselves suffered; due either from failure to sustain or pull down loose coal while working about it. Seven accidents were reported, four of which terminated fatally: Nos. 2, 3, 8 and 10. No. 2 Alexander Ryan was completing a holing, cutting away the "bridge" or "stump" as it is sometimes called, a piece of coal left to the last to support the overhanging mass, when the whole block came away suddenly and killed him instantly. On examination of the place a 'slip' was seen to run directly behind the mass which fell. No. 3 was a like occurrence at the Gowrie Mines. Had it been a rule of the collieries where these accidents happened that sprags must be used when finishing a holing, these casualties would probably not have occurred. But rules unless acted on are of little worth, as exemplified by No. 10, which resulted also from neglect to use sprags when holing as required at the mine where the accident happened. No. 8 is reported to have followed after a distinct warning of danger and instruction had been given respecting the timbering of the roof.
ACCIDENTS IN SHAFTS AND SLOPES.
Two non-fatal accidents were reported to have occurred in the sinking of shafts. Two fatal in slopes. No. 1, is supposed to have been in consequence of the man who was killed, pushing the tub beyond the mouth of the level and falling with it into the slope.
No. 12 was a much more serious accident which took place in the same mine on the 22nd November. Two strangers were admitted into the Vale slope without leave, and when attended by an irresponsible person met with the misadventure narrated in a previous paragraph headed, 'Special Rules.'
The International Co. were singularly unfortunate in that three accidents, Nos. 5, 7, and 11, resulting fatally, occurred on their railway from Bridgeport to Sydney, from men falling off the train while in motion. No. 9 happened at Port Caledonia. Some full wagons getting started on an incline struck some empties, on one of which stood Charles Martell, a man long accustomed to the shunting of the wagons on the wharf, but who on the occasion in question failed to notice the impending collision. On the wagons striking, the empties jumped and the buffers overriding, he was crushed as the wagons came together.
No. 13. The only fatal casualty remaining to be noticed, resulted from the inattention of McIsaac, who in crossing the plane way when working, was struck by the travelling counterbalance and killed.
Two accidents unattended by fatal results were caused by moving tubs underground.
COLLIERY ACCIDENT FUND.--After an occurrence, such as that at the Drummond, when the slaughter is wholesale, the sympathies of the people at large are with the families of the sufferers, and contributions of money are freely made for their relief. But when a single fatality occurs, and most of those which happen occur singly, the public attention is not drawn to the trials suddenly imposed on the widow and orphans and to their need of assistance. Beyond the temporary aid afforded by a local subscription, the care of her support is left entirely to her relations, who, most probably, are ill able to bear the additional expense. This system of alms giving is manifestly unfair, and tends to blunt the natural pride of a people accustomed to fairly earn their daily bread.
While still the recollection of the terrible disaster is fresh in the minds of our mining people, I desire to point out to them a system of relief that has been proposed in England, and partly carried out in South Staffordshire; which is, that each district should establish a district permanent insurance fund for the relief of sufferers by colliery accidents. The scheme adopted supplies the required aid as the payment of a just claim and not as a gift of charity. Consequently it meets with the approval of all classes interested and might surely be with advantage introduced into this province, where the inevitable law of averages has shown that a proportionate number of fatalities are here, as well as elsewhere, incidental to the growth of the coal trade.
It is proposed that each miner should make a weekly payment of say 1 1/4d., and each proprietor one farthing per ton on the coal sold. The proceeds of a fund so raised would, supposing the hitherto average rate of mortality is maintained, give to every widow, for a period of ten years, a weekly sum of 6s. 6d, and to each child 2s. 6d. per week.
The Central Committee appointed for disbursing the funds collected for the relief of the sufferers by the Drummond explosion, adopted the following scale for the present relief: To each widow $1.50 per week, and $1.00 per week to each child; girls under 15 and boys under 13 years of age.
Special grants were made of $200 to each widow of the four volunteers who were killed, and testimonials of the value of $50 given to each of the three surviving volunteers. With some of those who had claims on the Fund, they commuted, and altogether had expended by the end of the year about $8,800. There are now on the list for relief 27 of the 31 widows, and 80 of the 94 orphans, 4 fathers and 5 mothers left in distress by the explosion.
An abstract account of the subscriptions made for the Fund will be found published with the tables accompanying this report.
I have the honor to be,
Your obedient servant,
HENRY S. POOLE.
The Hon. DANIEL MCDONALD,
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