Fact:
At the same time as the construction of the
Sydney plan, another steel plant was constructed in Sydney Mines by the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company, (Scotia).

 

Fact:
The Scotia plant in Sydney Mines was a basic iron and steel producer feeding its finishing mills to New Glasgow, N.S.

 

Fact:
.Ten 50-ton Open Hearth furnaces of the tilting variety gave Disco the most advanced steel making process of the day.

 
 
 
 

 

The History of Local 1064 - THe United Steel Workers Association
By Frank Smith July 4, 1985


And now for those few but still vivid reminiscences I have myself of the 1923 Strike. By this time Disco had become Besco, the British Empire Steel Corporation, a development that boded anything but good for the workers.
I was not more than six or seven at the time but like most youngsters at that age – running all over the place and poking into everything – it was, I suppose, natural enough, what with the prevailing excitement, that I should occasionally stray where, like O’Casey’s Captain Boyle, I “Had No Business To Be”.
I remember very clearly the charge of the Halifax Light Brigade up Victoria Road on that memorable Sunday evening.
I recall lingering about the old No. 4 gate in the early part of the evening watching with intense interest a number of men in Blue forming up against the side of the Wire and Nail Mill {for years I was under the impression that these were the lads who made the sally up the Pier’s main artery, but on checking, just recently, I found that these were City and Company Police standing by}.
Anyhow, the Gateman who seemed to be a decent sort, spotted me and told me that I had better run along home. The advice was given none too soon because I had gone no farther than the corner of Mt. Pleasant St. and Victoria Rd. when I turned to look back toward the old subway. What I saw, in the roadway before Nathanson’s Store, no more than a hundred yards down the road from where I stood, was a crazy blur of horses and riders coming on a crowd of screaming people running off in all directions.
I don’t know to this day, whether they came on any farther or not, I was only aware that everyone else was running or trying to and that I had a clear road down Mt. Pleasant St. and I lost no time about it. If there was a track class for six year olds at the time, I likely broke all records. I found my mother and some of the other neighbourhood women – all of them frightened stiff – on the veranda of a nearby friends house. I likely got hell for wandering about at such a time but if I did it’s been long forgotten.
A prominent casualty of that evening’s work was Jack Murphy, the father of a well known and respected Whitney Pier family. I remember Mr. Murphy who was in the Insurance Business at the time, when making his rounds in the Henry St. area a few weeks after the strike was over, removing his hat and revealing to our fascinated gaze, a long, ugly scar – a memento that he likely retained to the end of his days.
But what we kids delighted in was following the parade when the strikers, taking all sides of the street, would be marching a batch of Scabs they had forcibly removed from the plant back to their homes and spouses – all of this to the accompaniment of cries of “Scabs”!”Scabs”!
I remember particularly, one fellow after being escorted thus, standing sheepishly by on a veranda while his better half loosed a flood of invective that would surely have raised the art to new heights had she not been drowned out by the jeers of the strikers.
Some of the stories that have come down from that wild and stormy period though strictly in the oral tradition, nevertheless accord well with the temper and conditions obtaining at the time. There was hate – in many cases, hate that was unrelenting and permanent. Even in those cases where, in time, there was tolerance, nothing was really forgotten – A trifling difference over some unrelated matter would very often re-open old sores, not only between striker and scab, but between their children as well.
However, humor of a sort did occasionally come into the picture. A story that I heard long ago and believe to have some basis in fact, tells of what happened to one scab when he experienced a bout of home sickness during his enforced stay on company premises. He decided that he would try, under cover of darkness, to make it past the pickets and see how things were doing with the family, but unfortunately for him, was spotted and chased to his residence where he took refuge in the cellar. While cowering in one of its darkest corners, he hears a sound as of someone stirring about. On the likelihood of it being a member of the family, he ventured making known his presence. But it wasn’t a member of the family – It was Hamm’s Ram.
Many of the older Sydney residents, particularly those living in or brought up in the Whitney Pier District, will recall that the City’s Streets were enlivened at that time by presence of a colorful variety of livestock – Horses, Cows, Goats, Sheep etc. Most wandering about in blithe disregard of their chances with the local poundkeeper.

continued..

 

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