More Incredible than Fiction

Publisher:  Confederation of National Trade Unions
Year Published:  1981  
Pages:  60pp  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX2301

The story of the St. Lawrence community recounts the working past of a small Newfoundland coastal town.

Abstract:  The story of the St. Lawrence community recounts the working past of a small Newfoundland coastal town. It stands also as the author's testament.

The story documents the passage of the town from a fishing community where workers supported one another in their labour to a mining town where people were united with one another in opposition to the industrial diseases of silicosis, radiation sickness and cancer.

An American promoter introduced the fluorspar industry in 1933 after a tidal wave destroyed the salt cod industry at the start of the depression. Fluorspar, a non-metallic mineral used in the manufacture of steel, aluminum, glass, hydrofluoric acid and refrigerants, became a cause for economic hope to the 900 people who had lost their means of livelihood.

Open cut mining, lack of adequate ventilation in the mines, the discovery of radon gas in 1959, physical illness, headache, vomiting, low wages, the fight for compensation and disease recognition in the '50s and '60s and recognition of the scene as a national disaster by the Workmen's Compensation Commission in 1967 is an incomplete litany of the experience and struggle.

The author concludes almost in defeat that, as mining operations close out and a Royal Commission meets to determine the extent of the difficulties caused by this action, an alternative industry needs to be found to bolster the sagging economic base.

Subject Headings