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Friday, 5 May 2017

Mining town

The first third of our teaching careers, my husband and I taught in an isolated mining town at the end of its mining life. While the ore was depleted, the spirit of the people wasn't. They depended on each other underground and in the mill, so they forged a strong bond. Also, the company town had facilities which few Newfoundland towns had in those days, such as a stadium, a curling club, a theatre, and bowling alley. It was a great place to live and raise a family.

I saw a video recently of a fly-over of the town just after the mine closed. Many of the facilities were still in place, though closed. One of the sights which made us smile was the school where we worked those early years. Lots of great memories came flooding back, of students, colleagues, friends, and our daughter's early life in a place that she loved. 

Our province had denominational education in those days and we were hired to work in the Roman Catholic system. The school had a nun as principal and other nuns were on staff. The Church, school, convent and rectory were all in the same block which was the epicenter of our lives. These facilities were paid for by the Catholic families, who had deductions taken from their salaries to cover the cost. The facilities were long paid for by the time we arrived in the community.

 
 Church-lower left, convent behind church, school-behind the cars, rectory to the left

Some young families did leave the community when the mine closed, including ours. We moved an hour away, to a paper mill town which was larger and on the Trans Canada highway. Today, in Buchans, only the church is left on the block where the school, convent and rectory had been. But the community lives on, smaller but spirited and strong. 

Note: the photo is taken from the video and is blurred as a result.

25 comments:

  1. I remember hearing about Buchans or reading about it in geography class although I never came across it when I taught geography.

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    1. There was enough gold taken out of that mine to pay the salaries for decades, AC.

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  2. Yes, once a one-industry town loses that industry, it's just a matter of time until it fades away, no matter how spirited its people.

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    1. This town didn't disappear, in spite of the odds against it.

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  3. Wow, very flat land! I'm not used to that. but a very neat town. My grandfather came over from Croatia and was a miner (in western Pennsylvania) all his life. Andrea

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    1. Underground mining is such a tough job! While we lived there, men were killed underground. I will never forget those days!

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  4. Hm, interesting post...it´s sad but true!
    Best wishes for a lovely weekend, take care.
    Titti

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    1. We moved to another community where the paper mill closed just before we moved from there. We don't have a great record with mining/mill towns, Titti.

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  5. If it was a mining community and the mines have closed what is it that's keeping this small town going Marie?

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    1. The community is close enough to a major center so that some people commute for work. There is a nursing home, school, grocery store etc. it is a tourist draw because of its place in the wilderness for fishing, hunting, snowmobiling etc. There are lots of retired seniors living there and people sometimes move back from other parts of Canada after retirement.

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    2. So good to hear success stories like this Marie. Strong community spirit can be a life saver for these small towns.

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    3. The spirit in Buchans in incredible.

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  6. The 're-invention' question is one which is facing quite a number of our towns. Often the closure of the main industry is a government decision, and sometimes a short-sighted one. Sometimes, but not always, the reasons for closing the idustry are good, but little thought has been given to those affected.
    Like PerthDailyPhoto, I am wondering what keeps this town going.

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    1. The mining began in 1905 with the discovery of the ore body and continued until 1984. Generations had experienced this community and the love for the place was woven their DNA.

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  7. A mining town back when mining was considered a great job. It must be an interesting place these days. I'm sure the video was like walking down memory lane. I always have been interested in Newfoundland and want to go there sometime.
    Have a wonderful weekend Marie.

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    1. Have a great weekend, Bill.

      I think Newfoundlanders feel about their island home the way Buchaneers feel about their town. People leave Newfoundland but you never really "leave" there. It is a great place to visit and a wonderful place to live.

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  8. My brother in law worked in the coal mines. He is retired now but you are right about the bonds and friendships, they are tight and they are forever. It was really hard work but the only kind of work he could get and he always appreciated having a job. I think so many mines have closed in so many small towns and they are usually the backbone of the community!

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    1. You are so right, Debbie. You have to experience a mining town and miners to really appreciate the bond that exists in their communities.

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  9. I recently read a really good (and long) book by Annie Proulx, "Barkskins" about the lumber industry over three centuries, and it was the same thing: towns and communities springing up because of the "endless" forests that could never go away, people thought. It's the same with mining, I suspect. You've had a very interesting career, Marie! Thanks for the peek into the early days of this town. :-)

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    1. The paper mill closed in our last home town after 100 years. There was lots of wood, just no market any more for news print. That town is doing well in spite of the mill closure.

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  10. Re your comment that Hawaii is on your bucket list - I hope you get the chance to visit one day. My brother is a cancer survivor of head/neck cancer and I am so thrilled his son has taken him on this delightful vacation. I do not like to travel but I love receiving the photos!

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    1. I am happy for your brother, Mildred.

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  11. An interesting post Marie. What subject or subjects did you and your husband teach?

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  12. My husband taught junior high in this school. I was a science teacher, then a vice principal, then principal. I taught religious ed courses as well when I was an administrator.

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