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Home / "They Didn't Starve Us Out": Industrial Cape Breton in the 1920s

"They Didn't Starve Us Out": Industrial Cape Breton in the 1920s ONF/NFB


Catalogue Number:  NFB520213
Producer:  National Film Board of Canada
Producers:  Floyd Elliott, Keith Packwood, Douglas MacDonald
Directors:  Patricia Kipping
Producing Agencies:  National Film Board of Canada (Montreal)
Subject:  Canadian History, Civics, Documentary
Language:  English
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  1990
Running Time:  21m 04s
Closed Captions:  Yes


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For 200 years, coal mining had been a way of life--and death--in Cape Breton.
By 1920 things were looking up: miners were unionized and paid decent wages.
Then the British Empire Steel Corporation arrived and bought every single
steel and coal company in Nova Scotia. BESCO also owned stores, houses and
land. Then the company cut wages by a third--setting off a bitter labour
dispute. The miners tightened their belts and settled in for a long strike.
Company stores were looted and burned, and finally in 1925 the military ended
the unrest with brute force. But the miners, in an important sense, had won.
They broke up the monopoly and provided an example to workers across the
country.

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