Nova Scotia’s mining and quarrying industry has reduced its injury rate by 90% since the Westray inquiry report was released in 1997, making mining one of the safer industries in the province. We believe the most important thing to come out of a mine is the miner, and our modern safety record reflects this.

Today, our goal is to have zero injuries in our workplaces. Nothing is more important than ensuring our friends and colleagues get home safely to their families each night.

Unfortunately, mining was often a very dangerous job historically. A Government of Nova Scotia database of fatalities in the province’s mines from 1838-1992 suggests there were at least 2,584 deaths in that period (

Safety is one of the main reasons we say that modern mining is “not your grandfather’s mining industry.” We are committed to continuous improvement in safety and to making sure these tragedies never happen again.

The frequency of accidents in historical mines is illustrated by the Nearing family of Stellarton.

According to “The Pictonian Colliers” by James Cameron, Dominic Nearing was born on August 7, 1880, in a house owned by the Halifax Company in the Foster Pit Road area of Stellarton.

Three months after Dominic’s birth his father, Joseph Nearing, was killed in the Foord Pit explosion of November 1880. His father’s remains were not recovered until miners broke through into the Foord Pit from the Allan Shaft in 1926.

Dominic, then 46 years old, had no memories of his father but the recovery of his remains in 1926 meant that he then had his father’s miner lamp, which was made of brass and had been recovered when his father’s skeleton was found.

When Joseph Nearing died, there was no financial compensation for his widow and their three small children other than an informal collection taken up by his fellow miners for the families of those killed. Dominic’s mother, Flora, provided for her children after Joseph’s death by working as a washerwoman in the Norfolk Hotel in New Glasgow.

Flora was no stranger to tragedy in the mines. Her father had been killed in Stellarton’s Cage Pit.

Dominic married Ruth MacNeil whose father, Dan MacNeil, was killed in an explosion at the Vale coal mine.

Dominic also earned his living underground until he was elected to office in a trade union. The union position may have saved his life. He eventually passed away from natural causes in 1969 at the age of 88.

Sadly, after Dominic retired, his son, John, died in an explosion at the MacGregor mine in 1952.