Miners of the St. Lawrence Fluorspar Mines

Designated 2014 asĀ Exceptional People From the Past.

Nominator: Tracey Slaney/Laurella Stacey, St. Lawrence Historical Heritage Committee

The minersĀ of the St. Lawrence Fluorspar Mines worked for very little in unsafe conditions. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives as they developed lung cancer and silicosis. They fought with administration and government to bring attention to the issues of unsafe working conditions. As a result of their lobbying efforts stronger occupational health and safety standards were brought in not only in this province but in the country. In this way the miners shaped the history of our province and saved lives.

The Fluorspar mines operated in St. Lawrence from the 1930s to the 1970s. The miners worked in extreme conditions with no protective equipment for very little pay. In 1942 the miners of St. Lawrence established their first protective union and began lobbying efforts to have workplace health hazards recognized and addressed. Their many issues and disputes included unsafe drinking water, dust exposure, ventilation issues, medical facilities, and inadequate workers compensation coverage. Despite raising concerns time and again, government was reluctant to intervene.

Eventually, the overwhelming historic and scientific evidence required the widespread acceptance of the concept of Occupational Diseases. As a result, Provincial Health and Safety regulations across the country now recognize Occupational Health on an equal footing with Occupational Safety.