Thursday, April 13, 2017
Gail (Hussey) Weir is the author of The Miners of Wabana, published by Breakwater Books in 1989 and 2006. Her latest publication is a chapter on the history of Company Housing on Bell Island in the book Company Houses, Company Towns: Heritage and Conservation, published by Cape Breton University Press in 2016. A former archivist with Memorial University Library’s Archives & Special Collections, she is spending her retirement years constructing a website on Bell Island’s history and culture at www.historic-wabana.com.
In this podcast, we talk about the history of mining on Bell Island, company housing and building styles, and Gail’s memories of growing up on the island.
The photo above is from Gail's website, and shows the building of the abutment at Scotia Pier c. 1950 at the time that Euclid trucks were replacing ore cars for transport of iron ore from the mines to the piers. The house in the left of the picture was the accountant's house. On the far right of the background can be seen the partial top storey of the Manager's House. Photo courtesy of Archives & Special Collections, MUN Library.
Listen on the Digital Archive:
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Several people responded, including Mr Craig Moore, who had done some research on the Avondale mineshaft in the mid 1990s. At that point, Moore had been told by the property owner, Greg Deveraux, that the shaft was the remains of an exploration site for a copper mine, dating to 1899. He corroborated that local knowledge holds that the offshore sand bar was the remains of the excavation, and concluded his note with a bit of a mystery. Apparently, a ship left the area in 1899 headed to Wales with a load of ore samples from the exploration site, but the ship never reached its destination.
Other people responded with information about different abandoned mines. Some told me about abandoned mines in Tilt Cove, Marysvale and Brigus. Susan Furneaux wrote,
In addition to these emails, Linda Lewis sent me the above photo, with this note:
You can read Mr Veitch's will online here.
If you have heard a story about any of these mines, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be particularly interested in knowing the exact location of the Marysvale/Colliers/Brigus mines, if you've seen them in your own explorations, or in other old photos of mining activity in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Yesterday, part of the ICH team was in the Salmonier Line/Colliers/Holyrood area conducting fieldwork research for our traditional wells and springs project. We had a little bit of time between interviews, so we went exploring an abandoned copper mine in Avondale. Above, Joelle Carey (left) and Claire McDougall (right) are shown reaching the end of the shaft, about 100m in.
I first learned about the mine through local kayaking websites (read here and here) and had only ever been to the site by kayak. We luckily arrived as low tide was starting to turn, so were able to walk to the site of the old mine shaft by parking at the Avondale wharf, and following the shoreline to the south side. It isn't a long walk to the site, but you'll need to time it correctly to be able to walk there, and wear rubber boots.
The mine shaft is dug directly into the rock face, just above the high water mark. It is fairly clear of debris, but a bit wet with pooled water for the first section of the shaft. The shaft runs more or less straight into the rock, with a few very short side passages, which looks like the miners were attempting to follow a vein of ore which petered out before they got too far in.
I'm 5'10", and except for a section at the entrance, the shaft is high enough so that I can walk most of the way in without bending over.
Kayaking folklore maintains that the sandbar in the bay is the spoil removed from the mine. I don't know much about the history of the mine, but would be very curious to know more. If you know anything about it, or about other abandoned mines in the area, email me at email@example.com.