The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

March 01, 2006

Mar. 1, 2006 – Monuments

At the top of the Monument Hill on September 11, 1894 , a monument was unveiled. This “ Miner Monument ” or as it is sometimes called the “White Miner” has a grey marble shaft. On the four side of the shaft are the names of those who lost their lives in the Explosion of 1891. On the granite pedestal which is 16 feet high stand the figure, in white marble, of a coal miner. He is dressed in his work clothes with a pick in one hand and a safety lamp is hanging from his belt. Andrew Stevenson, a local man, is said to have been the model for the miner.

There was a great ceremony held when the monument was unveiled. Such dignitaries as: Governor General Lord Aberdeen and his wife; Prime Minister Sir John S.D. Thompson; Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper; Hon. J.W. Longley; T.R. Black, MPP; Charles Tanner, MPP; A.E. Fraser, MPP; A.R. Dickey, MP; Judge Townshend; Mr. Drummond and Judge Morse and a crowd of 5000.

In his speech Sir John Thompson stated “the monument was to remember the Springhill’s dead, but it was also to remind ourselves that we are a people ready again to face difficulties as we have done successfully since the tragedy of 1891.

The land where the monument was erected was purchased from George Horton for a sum of $200.00.

Springhill Miners on Oct. 12, 1929 voted $4000.00 to purchase the Sprague Property next to their hall on Main Street . They will move the miners monument, now located on upper main, to the newly purchased property. (Oxford Journal Oct, 27, 1999- 70 years ago)

The miners monument not only has the names of the 125 miners who lost their lives in 1891 it also has the names of those 39 who were killed in the 1956 explosion. Beside this there is a plaque to commemorate those in the “Bump” of 1958. In 1988 an additional 5 tablets were added with the names of those miners, not already listed, who have lost their lives in the Springhill Mines.

Although most of the miners killed in the explosion of 1891 were from Springhill there were some who had no connection to the town and therefore had no friends or family to claim the bodies. These men and boys were buried in a single grave in Hillside Cemetery . This is known as the “Strangers Grave” or the “Strangers Lot”. These miners were from places like Pictou, Glace Bay and Iona , Cape Breton . For many years this lot had no marker on it but today there is a marker it which is inscribed “This memorial marks the Strangers Lot and Honors the 125 miners killed in the Number One Mine Explosion Springhill February 21, 1891 ”.

For many years Mary Willa Littler has worked to find the identity of these miners and when she did identify them she placed a granite marker on each of the graves. This marker has a miner’s hat on it with 1891. She was also instrumental in getting the plaques which has the names of those who were killed in mining mishaps but not listed on the Miners Monument .

Each year on June 11 th a Memorial Service is held for those killed in the mines. This is called “Davis Day” in honor of Billy Davis, a Springhiller, who was shot and killed during the strike of 1926 in Cape Breton .

Across the street from the Miners Monument at the corner of Junction Road and Main Street sits the Soldier’s Monument which was erected in 1929. This is in honor of those who gave their lives in service to their country in World War 1, World War 2 and the Korean War.