There’s a very nice little book out about the coal miners’ (and steel workers’) fight against greedy and heartless corporations in early twentieth century Cape Breton. What’s especially great about it is that author Joanne Schwartz wrote it for kids, not the really young ones I guess, but say the 10 to 15 year olds. Nimbus, the publisher, suggests children as young as 7 may go for it.
Historian David Frank on Miners’ Houses, the painting of a Glace Bay townscape by Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris, now on a stamp. Harris visited Glace Bay in 1925, the same year striking miner William Davis was shot by company police. “Glace Bay is really no town, but a number of huddles of box-like houses around scattered coal mine mouths. . . . It’s drab and dreary and bedraggled even on a sunny day . . . “, Harris wrote at the time.
Canada Post recently issued a stamp of Lawren Harris’ painting ‘Miners houses, Glace Bay’. Fiona McQuarrie writes about her personal connection and the painting’s significance in terms of Cape Breton labour history.
With Labour Day around the corner, Professor David Frank introduces an essay by the great J.B. McLachlan on the ideal preacher. McLachlan, known first and foremost through the Cape Breton coal miner strikes, is Nova Scotia’s most important labour leader, and he is on fire here.
“In a word, the “Ideal Preacher” is not a soothsayer. “He stirreth up the people,” for which he may get hanged some day, but if he gets his way the disinherited will refuse to remain disinherited.”
NS Federation of Labour president Danny Cavanagh reflects on 100 years of Nova Scotia history. From the day William Davis was shot to today’s injured miners looking for respect and dignity, not much has changed.
Historian Daniel Joseph Samson recently spent a day going through the private library of the early-20th-century Cape Breton labour leader J. B. McLachlan at the Beaton Institute. Turns out McLachlan didn’t just read Lenin and Engels, Samson encountered some books he didn’t expect to see there.
“The miners, the spouses and community members who turned their backs on a Liberal MLA were only following in the footsteps of the miners and their families of 1925.,” writes Kendra Coombes.
This Labour Day weekend video features singer/songwriter Ernest Laidlaw performing his original tune “Standin’ the Gaff”, about the bloody miners’ strike in 1925 Cape Breton. It’s really good.