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Remembering Westray 27 years later

This photo, which first ran in The Evening News on May 10,1992, shows draegermen who rushed to the mine site in Plymouth to help in the rescue attempt for 26 miners trapped at Westray.
This photo, which first ran in The Evening News on May 10,1992, shows draegermen who rushed to the mine site in Plymouth to help in the rescue attempt for 26 miners trapped at Westray.

Today, May 9, marks 27 years since the Westray Explosion, but the effects are still felt in Pictou County. It was a disaster that took away loved ones, ended underground mining in the county and changed how safety is viewed and prosecuted across the country. Here is a look at some of the images from that day as well as quotes from people that The News has talked to about the tragedy.

"It wasn't easy work. Some of them did it because they had to. They were good paying jobs then. I knew my dad did it because he loved it." – Michael Johnson, son of miner

The day their dad wasn't coming home, published in 2012

“I’m sure nobody wanted people to get killed. I don’t think there was a memo sent out one day, ‘Let’s blow up the mine.’ I don’t believe that happened. People are not that evil. But in the aftermath, I think people should have told the truth. I don’t think that happened.” – Robert Thompson, former Westray employee

Westray was a loaded gun primed to go off, published in 2017

“Anybody that worked there and then seen what was left at the moment when I went down there, was like Holy Jesus this stuff’s gone. The whole belt line was gone. It was just disintegrated. There was a drive down around number 5. It would be almost as big as a dump truck…. It was a cast iron thing. It was totally gone.” – Ronald Cunningham, former Westray employee

Mine employee saw devastation after the Westray explosion, published in 2017

“A lot of guys knew they were in danger and knew the mine was dangerous but they had families to feed, cars and houses to pay for. These guys were there to do their job and it was a good-paying job so it was hard to turn down. We tried to talk some of them into quitting but we were turned down. They had families to feed.” – Hughie MacArthur, former USW representative

Westray workers knew they were in danger: USW, published in 2017

“It was very emotional, but at the same time you had to keep your professional level. At the end of the day when you go home and put your head on your pillow you’re a human being and you replay over and over again the events of the day, but at the time you have to keep your composure and your professionalism. You have to do that. – Art Eagles, funeral home director

Funeral director dealing with Westray funerals saw mourning like never before

The men who were killed

John Thomas Bates, 56

Larry Arthur Bell, 25

Bennie Joseph Benoit, 42

Wayne Michael Conway, 38

Ferris Todd Dewan, 35

Adonis J. Dollimont, 36

Robert Steven Doyle, 22

Remi Joseph Drolet, 38

Roy Edward Feltmate, 33

Charles Robert Fraser, 29

Myles Daniel Gillis, 32

John Philip Halloran, 33

Randolph Brian House, 27

Trevor Martin Jahn, 36

Laurence Elwyn James, 34

Eugene W. Johnson, 33

Stephen Paul Lilley, 40

Michael Frederick MacKay, 38

Angus Joseph MacNeil, 39

Glenn David Martin, 35

Harry A. McCallum, 41

Eric Earl McIsaac, 38

George S. James Munroe, 38

Danny James Poplar, 39

Romeo Andrew Short, 35

Peter Francis Vickers, 38

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