SYDNEY MINES, N.S. — As the Men of the Deeps sang “there’s a pick and shovel waiting down the Coal Town Road,” Lorraine Head teared up as she had a number of times Sunday morning. Nearly 100 years — 98 to be exact — after the gruesome events that inspired Davis Day, the descendent of the man it honours broke down on the grounds of the Miner’s Park in Sydney Mines.
“My mother, her siblings — always, always,” she said of the motivation to return each year to the ceremony she has been attending since she was a little girl. Davis Day is named for her grandfather, New Waterford resident William Davis, 38, who was one of the coal miners protesting deplorable conditions at a Cape Breton coal mine near Waterford Lake in 1925.
The British Empire Steel Corporation, which owned the mine, cut off the miners’ credit at the company store and also cut off their access to water and electricity, creating a desperate situation.
On June 11, the protest turned violent. As many as 2,000 coal miners marched toward Waterford Lake and British Empire Steel Corporation police shot at them. Davis was killed, leaving behind a widow and nine children, as well as a 10th on the way.
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