A town's heritage

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Springhill residents gather to mark Miners Memorial day

Each year at this time and again in October on the anniversary of the 1958 Springhill mine disaster, Valerie Alderson finds herself thinking back to her childhood and the loss of her father.

A town's heritage

Each year at this time and again in October on the anniversary of the 1958 Springhill mine disaster, Valerie Alderson finds herself thinking back to her childhood and the loss of her father.

Springhill paid a high price in the coal mines between 1876 and 1969 and every year on June 11 they come together on Miners Memorial Day to honour those who paid the highest price working in the town's collieries.

The day is also in honour of Springhill native William Davis, who was killed during a mine strike in New Waterford in 1925.

"It's essential that Springhill remembers because it's part of our heritage," Alderson said following ceremonies at All Saints Anglican Church. "The minister said it perfectly during the service when he said you have to remember because it helps people heal."

A hand bell was rang 20 times during the 40-minute service at All Saints in honour of 19 miners killed between 1877 and 1937 as well as for other miners who list their lives in other accidents as well as the 1891, 1956 and 1958 disasters.

Alderson was just a girl in 1958 when the bump occurred killing 74 miners, including her father. She remembers waiting with her family for news of her father and still remembers the pain and sorrow felt throughout the community in the days, weeks and years after the last surviving miner was carried out of the mine.

"Davis Day brings back memories but not as much as the anniversary of the date because it's the same time of year and you remember the time surrounding it," she said.

The fact there are fewer miners left from the community's mining heyday makes it all the more important to Alderson that Miner's Memorial Day continues after the last miners have died.

"It's important for those of us who had family members to pass down the story. I know in our family, when we get together, the stories go around about things that happened in the mines," she said. "It's good to tell those stories and it's good to remember."

Miners Memorial Day brings back a flood of memories for Caleb Rushton. One of only two remaining miners from the 12 miners trapped underground for several days, Rushton feels it's important for the community to remember the sacrifice made by thousands of young men in the mines.

"It's important that we continue to remember because the time will soon come when there are none of us left," said Rushton, who's immortalized in the Ballad of Springhill. "A lot of us are getting up in years and there's not many of us left. The number is getting fewer all the time."



dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: All Saints Anglican Church

Geographic location: New Waterford, All Saints

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