Cape Breton miners angry businesses not staying closed for Davis Day

The statue of miner Bill Davis. The 37-year-old father of nine was shot and killed by coal company police during a 1925 miners' strike in New Waterford.

For more than 30 years, Sheldon Gouthro has worked as a coal miner underground.

Gouthro has lost colleagues on the job and Friday, he will take time to remember them, like he does every June 11.

Thursday, he was angry some businesses will not be doing the same.

"I'm devastated and I'm saddened by it because I think it's a slap in the face actually," said Gouthro.

Davis Day – or Miners Memorial Day -- is held to reflect on the sacrifices made by William Davis.

The 37-year-old father of nine was shot and killed by coal company police during a 1925 miners' strike in New Waterford.

Miners vowed to never work again on June 11. Many businesses followed suit – and stayed closed.

"In all of the mining towns that's how we all grew up was through miners supporting the businesses," said Gouthro.

"It seems like the end of an era," said Mary Pat Mombourquette, the executive director of the Cape Breton Miners Museum.

"This town was built on those men who went underground and dug coal for a living. Some of those men lost their lives, lost their limbs," says Mombourquette. "It's time to take a minute and think about them and thank them because we got the life we have because of them."

Students in former coal mining towns on the Island will only attend morning classes tomorrow out of respect for miners.

Both Mary Pat Mombourquette and Sheldon Gouthro are hoping businesses will also show respect and stay closed.

"I'd say close and think back to who supported you over the years here," said Gouthro.

The ceremony – which is held every year – has been cancelled this year because of the pandemic.