The Company Store — J.B. McLachlan and the Cape Breton Coal Miners, 1900–1925
by John Mellor • photos, index, bibliography • 392 pages
WITH ALL THE PASSION OF A TERRIFIC NOVEL, this classic history keeps Cape Breton's Labour Wars alive.
The coal company owned everything: the stores known as “the Pluck Me,” the terrible housing, the mines, the politicians, even ministers and priests—and the company used these tools to keep the miners in line as they lowered wages and paid off their shareholders. When the miners tried to organize, the coal company cut off credit at stores, evicted families, and blacklisted workers. Then the government sent in troops!
From 1900 to 1925 Cape Breton workers fought back, sustained by coal mine culture, organized resistance, and a stubborn belief that their families deserved better.
With thorough research and interviews, Mellor's book is vivid and well-informed. As one teacher put it: “No one should be allowed to graduate from high school unless they have read The Company Store!”
"I read just the Preface and I was mad already!"—Matt Minglewood