Dave Cochrane leans forward and unpacks a memory from more than a half-century ago, back to a winter’s day in Sudbury at the Inco employment office. He had ventured to the Nickel City to land a mining job and go to work in the bowels of Mother Earth, much like his father and his grandfathers had done before him back home in Nova Scotia.
At the time, Cochrane weighed maybe a buck-forty, well under the company’s 160-pound minimum weight requirement for underground workers. “Sorry, son, you’re 20 pounds too light,” the Inco man at the employment centre said.
Undeterred, Cochrane returned a week later hoping to find a different recruiter on duty and this time stretch the truth on his exact poundage. Instead, the same man met him and once again sent the lightweight applicant away. As Cochrane headed toward the exit, the Inco man asked, “Where did you say you were from?”
“Springhill, Nova Scotia,” the teenager replied. “Springhill?” the man repeated, instantly recognizing the name of the once-thriving coal mining community that was no stranger to tragedy and torment. “Take a seat over there. We’ll find you the extra 20 pounds.”
For the rest of this column: https://www.thewhig.com/opinion/springhill-mining-disaster-remains-a-horrific-memory