History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Dept. Mines


The accidents in the past year are twelve in number. Of these five have resulted fatally. Two persons have been hurt by machinery, four by falls of stone or coal, two by premature blasts, one by being run over by waggon, one by explosion of gas, one by falling from a bridge, and one was suffocated by gas. The following statement gives the names of the sufferers, the locality in which the accidents happened, and the result thereof:

No.Date 1871.Name.Name of Mine.Cause.Result
1Feb. 27J.McDonaldMontaguHurt by machineryRecovered
2Mar. 3Geo.WhiteVictoriaFall of stoneDied
...Mar. 3Alex WeirVictoriaFall of stoneRecovered
3Mar. 9J.McKinnonSydneyFall of stoneDied
4Mar. 22A.McDonaldMontaguHurt by machineryRecovered
5Apr. 18K.McMullenSydneyExplosion of powderDied
6Jun. 5Jno.GreenSydneyFall off bridgeDied
7Jul. 18SteeleSydneyRun over by waggonRecovered
8Aug. 10J.SutherlandNova ScotiaFall of coalRecovered
9Aug. 15A.McGildericAlbion MinesSuffocatedDied
10Aug. 21C.McKayCaledoniaExplosion of gasRecovered
11Aug. 24N.McDougallSydneyFall of coalRecovered
12Sep. 15M.BordenCaledoniaExplosion of powderRecovered

No. 1. This accident occurred to Joseph McDonald in a singular manner. He was lowering an empty tub at one of the shafts at the Albion mine, Montagu; and supposing that the tub had reached the bottom, he let go the jack roll, which owing to the weight of the tub and rope, revolved so rapidly that he was struck on the chest by it and rendered insensible for a while.

No. 2. George White, Alexander Weir, and other three men were employed in the Victoria mine, and were engaged in the bottom of the slope which was being driven to the dip. A large stone, which is supposed to have come from the dip of the slope, was suddenly loosened and the angle of the dip of the seam being very steep, it rolled with great rapidity down the slope. One of the men heard it coming and warned his companions, two of whom escaped with him by passing to the west side of the slope. White and Weir unfortunately kept to the east side, down which the stone was rolling, and both were struck by it. White was killed on the spot; Weir luckily escaped without serious injury. An examination of the slope was made, but how the stone became detached or where it came from was not discovered.

No. 3. The death of McKinnon was caused by a mass of Coal falling upon him when at work in the Queen Pit, Sydney mines. He had undermined the Coal and prepared it for bringing down by wedges which he had driven as far as he could into the Coal. It did not fall, however, and he left it to get his breakfast. On returning he incautiously began to extend the cutting made in the Coal without again trying the wedges, and whilst so employed, the mass fell upon him and inflicted injuries which caused his death.

No. 4. This accident was of a similar character to that which occurred at the same mine to Joseph McDonald on the 27th February. Angus McDonald was lowering Mr. Bell, the carpenter at the mine, down one of the shafts, when the handle of the jack roll, either by carelessness or owing to his inability to hold it, slipped from his grasp and in attempting to regain it he was struck on the arm, which was broken in two places, Mr. Bell, although he was precipitated about 40 feet, singularly escaped without injury.

No. 5. This accident occurred at the Sydney Mines, and is a strong instance of the carelessness with which miners will occasionally go about their work. McMullen was one of three who were preparing to take down a mass of coal by blasting. They had commenced at a corner of a pillar of coal which was being removed in the ordinary manner; and he and another were engaged undermining, whilst the other man was preparing the hole for firing, on the other side of the corner. In doing this he struck the needle against a stone at the end of the hole, and ignited the powder and brought down the block of coal upon McMullen, who was crushed to death. His companion fortunately escaped.

It appeared, on examining the roof of the seam, that the hole had penetrated a short distance into the roof, and it is therefore strange that this was not discovered and more care taken in driving the needle. It was also very imprudent to undertake an operation requiring great care when the others were partially under the coal.

No. 6. Green was employed at the Sydney Mines Shipping Wharf. He was standing near the edge of a bridge to which some repairs were being made, when he fell backward into the road below, about ten feet, and was so injured that he did not recover.

No. 7. This accident also occurred at the Sydney Mines. Steel was one of the trimmers employed at the shipping wharf. Whilst lying on the wharf resting, he incautiously put his leg across one of the rails of the track. A loaded wagon was being pushed by two men towards a vessel, and one of the wheels passed over his leg.

No. 8. This accident occurred to Sutherland whilst loading the tubs in the Nova Scotia Mine. The coal is run down shoots into the tubs, and some of the pieces in falling struck him on the head and neck.

No. 9. McGilderic lost his life by going into an umworked place in the Foord pit, Albion Mines, in which there was gas. The place had been driven to the rise for the purpose of ventilation, but was not holed, working having been suspended with the intention of holing it from the upperside.

It is not known what object McGilderic had in going into the place, as he had no necessity to go near it, but he appears to have been attempting to go to the face when he was struck down by the gas and suffocated.

No. 10. In this instance, McKay, who was a coal cutter in the Caledonia Colliery, was passing over a fall of stone, above which some gas had accumulated; and having a naked light he was severely burnt about the face and arms. The gas was known to be there, and he had been cautioned about it.

No. 11. This accident occurred at the Queen Pit, Sydney Mines. McDougal and his partner had fired a shot, which had not, however, brought the whole of the coal down, and whilst filling the loosened portion into a tub, a part of the mass that remained, fell upon McDougall and severely injured him.

I have the honor to be,
Your obedient servant,
Inspector of Mines.

Commissioner of Public Works and Mines.

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Last Modified: 99-02-20

Originally Printed by: The Citizen Publishing Company

The information contained on this site is not provided for the purpose of factual
representation. Instead, it is provided in an historical context. Every effort has
been made to ensure that this information represents the actual content
of the published Nova Scotia Department of Mines annual reports.
Nevertheless, no warranties are provided in any respect.

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