Mining the past

Dave Mathieson
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Davis Day observed in River Hebert

Mining the past

River Hebert -

It's an industry that once ruled the province of Nova Scotia but has since faded to memory.

Communities like River Hebert, Joggins and Springhill were built upon the mines.
These towns still have a few men who connect us to that past and last week they took time out to remember their days of mining during Davis Day.
"Mining was the main industry for River Hebert and Joggins," said Judy Jollymore, who is secretary treasurer of the village commission. "This day allows us to re-connect to that past."
The mines were shuttered for good in River Hebert and Joggins in the 1980s.
"Some people stayed but a lot moved on," said Jollymore.
One of those miners who stayed was Albert Arseneau.
The 96-year old River Hebert native can always be counted on to take time out each June 11 to lay a wreath in memory of the life that was.
Albert's father, Alex, was killed in a mining accident in 1916, only three year's after Albert was born.
Albert himself began working in the mines at a very young age.
"Over the years Albert has been a wealth of knowledge for the miner's museum," said Jollymore. "Anything I've wanted to know about a mining artifact or piece of machinery he has been able to tell me what it was."
Back in the early 1980s, Jollymore took pictures of all the living miners in the area for the River Hebert Miner's Museum's Miners Memorial Wall.
Each picture has a write up about the miner's history in the mines.
"Since I took those pictures, I'd say that 75 per cent of the men are gone now," said Jollymore.
She added that she knows of only two other men who are still alive who worked in the River Hebert mines.
"One is in his 80s and the other is in his early 90s," she added.
Having one of the last living monuments of an important time in history is a blessing Arseneau said.
"He's our oldest miner so it's always greatly appreciated when he comes out to Davis Day," she said.
"I hope he continues to make it out for many years to come."

Geographic location: River Hebert, Joggins, Nova Scotia

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