Photo Friday | Diggers of the Deep

Around the world, many miners celebrate December 4 as Miners Day and commemorate their patron saint, St. Barbara, requesting her continuing protection for their daily work.

(In the US, National Miner’s Day is December 6, marking the anniversary of the worst mining accident in history on December 6, 1907, in Monogah, West Virginia, when 362 miners died.)

Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, armourers, military engineers, gunsmiths, miners and anyone else who works with cannon and explosives. She is invoked against thunder and lightning, all incidents arising from explosions of gunpowder. Mining, it must be said, remains one of the riskiest lines of work in North America.

Honour the contributions and sacrifices of miners both past and present with these few pictures from NFB mining films.

The photographs stem from Diggers of the Deeps (not online), a short 1954 doc that reviewed “the problems created by the decline of the coal-mining industry in Canada, as witnessed in one of the most affected areas of Nova Scotia” and Men of the Deeps (not online) a 2003 feature doc profiling the Men of the Deeps chorus, a group of former Cape Breton miners gathered together by their love of song.

You can hear a traditional Cape Breton folk song sung by Men of the Deeps in the 2-minute Canada Vignette below:

Canada Vignettes: Men of the Deeps, Cape Breton, Sandra Dudley, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954.

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954.

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954.

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954.

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954. An engineer operates a new machine designed to combine four coal digging operations in one: cutting, drilling, blasting and bloating. Trenton, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954.

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Diggers of the Deeps, 1954.

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Men of the Deeps, 2003.

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Men of the Deeps, 2003.