GLACE BAY, N.S. — Is a coal mining town still a coal mining town once its mines are all closed? Yes and no, says a local academic who studies the cultural legacy that the industry has left on former mining communities like Glace Bay and New Waterford.
“We’re in the aftermath of industry and it cast a long shadow in that it helped shape our culture so much,” said Lachlan MacKinnon, an assistant professor of history at Cape Breton University who penned a 2013 article entitled Labour Landmarks: Collective Memory in a Cape Breton Coal Town.
“The work being done in the area is no longer industrial in character, but part of that culture remains, and you see that in events like Davis Day where young people who didn’t grow up with working coal mines still grow up in an atmosphere where those stories are still being told.”
Christina Lamey grew up in New Victoria and recalls a childhood filled with mining-related stories. And while she now works as the manager of cruise marketing and development at the Port of Sydney, she wrote a university thesis in 1996 that focused on the impact of Davis Day in the years after the 1925 event that further galvanized Cape Breton coal miners.
“It has a cultural significance that still resonates on this island — it is a key piece of our history that has an incredible lesson behind it and that story is very moving and it is timeless,” said Lamey.