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- 90 percent of the workers in the Pass were
- 34 percent were British
- 23 percent were
- 14.5 percent were Italian
- 7 percent were French
- 2 percent were Russian
- 8.5 percent were
- 1 percent were American 3
The testimony of union leaders and individual miners,
union supporters makes riveting reading. I am citing two
passages because of what they reveal about the conditions of
miners and the tense nature of the relationship between
workers and bosses. They are from the Lethbridge and Edmonton
J. Hillary, President, Rosedale Local, United Mine Workers
of America, is asked about miners' accommodation, and the
following exchange takes place. Initial questions are put by
W. F. McNeill, an American-born mine manager who came to
Alberta in 1895 and managed the McNeill Brothers Coal Mines
in Canmore and was appointed in 1912 as commissioner
(executive secretary) of the Western Coal Operators
Q: There's no sleeping accommodation in this
A: There are only two or three rooms.
Q: Where do the men sleep who eat in this place?
A: In the bunkhouse.
Q: What do you mean by the bunkhouse? What sort of a
house is it? A: Where there's about 40 or 50 all in one
Q: What kind of accommodation is there?
A: Just small cots for them to sleep in. That's a poor
accommodation for a miner.
Q: He hasn't very much privacy there:
A: He has no privacy at all.
Q: Is the bed satisfactory? You speak of a cot.
A: It has a spring and a small straw mattress on it, and
either two or three blankets.
Q: They don't have to bring their own blankets? A: No,
they don't have to. It would be better for them to get more
clothes and get them warm.
Questions by Henry Shaw, another mine owner who came to
Edmonton from the US in 1913 and established the North West
Biscuit Company. Bercuson notes that he was active in the
Board of Trade.