Yesterday, Jen decided that since we can't work in the house during the day, too many workers there to finish the house we should go to the Miners Museum. It was a grand day. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant and then visited the a mock up of the company store and a company house which was a duplex that was restored on one side to the 1870 and on the other side to the 1920's. For those of you that don't know Cape Breton was a huge coal mining area. The English set up the mines and exploited the coal workers and their famiies for years. They paid them very poorly and owned the stores where the prices were inflated so they kept the miners impoverished for years. The miners were mostly immigrants from Scotland and Ireland and then later on, all parts of Europe. We went on an underground tour and the guide related stuff to us aas if he was a worker in the 1920's. He talked about the pit ponies and how they were kept underground for years, and the young boys who were forced to work as young as 8 years of age. If the father of the family got hurt, someone had to work in order for the family to continue to stay in the company house, so they would send a child down. In one area the ceiling was only 4 feet and a boy would take a post at the door that was between the air inflow and outflow areas of the mine. He would befriend the rats because they could sense when something was wrong so if the rats dissapeared you knew you were in trouble. The miners had open flame lamps and they were drilling into pockets of coal that contained methane, not a very safe way to live, the mines in Cape Breton in the 1920 had a workforce of 12,000 and they averaged one death a day! As of today most of the coal mines in the area are shut down as if the steel mill that used to employ thousands in Sydney. The economy seems to have recovered and there is talk of reopening mines in the area.
Obviously I was fascinated with the tour. Jen very gamely came underground and walked hunched over for 40 minutes, the ceiling was mostly 5 foot but at times it was 4 feet, yuck! Then afterwards we went for a drive and Jen took me to one of her favourite surfing spots and we took some pictures of her belly. I got to clamour around on some rocks and listen and smell the ocean. Oh, that made me sooooo lonely for our boat, plus the wind was blowing and there were white caps and the sun was beating down, it would have been a perfect sailing day. We drove home and after supper we helped Mark build the third and last step. We are not finished yet and Jen figures that we can go and do more nailing if she gets to go home after they see how things are at 11:00.