Gordon: When I was growing up I was told that my great-grandfather had died in the mines at Springhill. I had heard of the “Springhill disaster” (there were actually three), but I was told that his death occurred in one of the smaller explosions. My grandmother was the youngest of 7 or 9 children. She was only 2 or 3 years old when my great-grandfather died and the family was broken up. My grandmother and one of her sisters were raised by an aunt and uncle, and her siblings were parcelled out to other family members or unrelated families.
Last night we stayed in Springhill, which of course brought my family history to mind. I searched an online database of men killed in the mines and received a null result for my great-grandfather’s surname. This morning, at the mine museum in Springhill, Ruth said we should get some clarification on the issue. She called my aunt and uncle and asked what had become of my great-grandfather. The response: “Oh, he never worked in that mine, he just ran off.” I was a bit disappointed, as I liked to think I had a direct family connection to some well-known Canadian labour history. I guess I’ll have to be content with the social history of life before the welfare state.
We had a wonderful stay in Springhill with Warm Showers hosts Alison and Isiah. They cooked us a great dinner and then humiliated us at a popular maritime board game. I can’t recall the name of the game, probably because I turned 60 today and have started to suffer cognitive loss.
We only had time to visit one museum in Springhill this morning, so we had to skip the one dedicated to Springhill’s most famous daughter, Anne Murray. Maybe next time.