Cumberland County Heritage Network Society

Monday, June 15, 2009

Did you know about… Davis Day

On June 11th of every year, we in the Cumberland County observe “Davis Day,” though sadly few know anything about it.

On June 11th 1925, the coal miners of our region were on strike against BESCO (the British Empire Steel and Coal Company). In New Waterford, Cape Breton the strike turned to violence when miners were confronted by BESCO police. In the ensuing struggle, Bill Davis, a coal miner who was just happened to be walking by at the time, was shot and killed by the company police. Davis was a of father nine with a tenth child on the way and was reportedly on his way home with milk for his children when he was shot, adding to the greater shocking tragedy of his death.

In remembrance the miner’s union, the United Mine Workers of America, designated June 11th as a day of observance in memorial of all coal miners who worked and died in the mines and named the day in honour of Bill Davis.

Pictured above is Mr. Albert Arseneau at the Davis Day remembrance in River Hebert. In his 90's, Mr. Arseneau is the oldest living miner in River Hebert.

As a foot note: the British Empire Steel Corporation would purchased by the infamous Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation (DOSCO) which ran all steel and coal operations in Cape Breton until late 1960’s when the Nova Scotia Government nationalized their assets. Today, the long and illustrious history of both coal mining and steel making in our province has come to an end, yet we still remember the scarifies that our forefathers made for us by going down in the mines.

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