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Britannia Mine??

GUEST,Martin Ryan 23 Apr 02 - 11:56 AM
MartinRyan 24 Apr 02 - 01:57 AM
Jon Bartlett 24 Apr 02 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 24 Apr 02 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 24 Apr 02 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 24 Apr 02 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 24 Apr 02 - 09:35 AM
Metchosin 24 Apr 02 - 12:31 PM
Jon Bartlett 25 Apr 02 - 04:08 AM
Jon Bartlett 25 Apr 02 - 04:10 AM
Stewart 25 Apr 02 - 12:41 PM
MartinRyan 25 Apr 02 - 03:59 PM
Jon Bartlett 25 Apr 02 - 08:58 PM
MartinRyan 26 Apr 15 - 08:43 PM
MartinRyan 26 Apr 15 - 09:06 PM
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Subject: Britannia Mine??
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 23 Apr 02 - 11:56 AM

This fine song appears in the DT with the following note (from JB):

Paddy Graber, c. 1965, to the structure of "Skibbereen"; describes a strike in the mid-fifties at Britannia Copper Mine, BC. Mine-Mill is the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers' Union.

Can anyone supply any more information? The dates seem likely to be off - I think Anaconda only took over the mine in the sixties and clsosed it down in the 70's. Who was "Paddy Graber", the author? Anything else?

Regards

p.s. I sang the song the other night in the Góilín Singers Club. A guy came up to me afterwards, thanked me for it - and told me his great uncle had died in an Anaconda mine in Butte, Montana. Certainly there were lots of Irish miners there - many had emigrated from areas of West Cork, in particular, which had copper mines in teh 19th C.


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: MartinRyan
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 01:57 AM

Nothing? Here's a link to the words.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 04:43 AM

The song was my post. The song was made by Paddy Graber of Vancouver, who frequently sang it while a member of the Vancouver Folk Song Society. He recorded the song for Phil Thomas in 1974, for inclusion in Phil's collection in the Aural History Archives in Victoria. The song does not appear in Thomas' book, Songs of the Pacific Northwest, but it is an item in the P.J. Thomas Collection.

For those who aren't clear on the area, the mine is situated on the hillside above Britannia Beach, BC, in Howe Sound, between Vancouver and Squamish. The mine at Britannia goes back to at least the twenties, though it may well be that Anaconda didn't take it over until late in its history. I'm pretty sure that the mine was dead by 1968 when I arrived here in BC. I think your dates are out but I cannot be sure. Graber claimed to have worked as a miner at Copper Mountain, Princeton, BC: I think he also said he worked at Anaconda. He told me that they threatened to take out the pumps which kept the mine dry and flood it forever if the union didn't agree to their terms. I've just had a quick boo through my BC labour history holdings and it's really hard to find mention of Britannia Beach. Mine Mill of course had a history of opposition to the US dominated AFL-CIO. I'll keep looking and keep this thread posted if folk are interested.


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 04:59 AM

Jon

Many thanks for the reply. Itwas THIS site that set me thinking about the date. I sing the song fairly regularly at sessions - partly, I must admit, to see people's reaction when they realise I'm not singing Skibereen!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 09:32 AM

This interesting site mentions the "first organised strike" in the '40's.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 09:34 AM

Let's try that again!

This interesting site mentions the "first organised strike" in the '40's. Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 09:35 AM

Jeez! Not much better! Too tired to think straight.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: Metchosin
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 12:31 PM

Well to answer Mr. Graber's question in his song, "Oh why did they close the mine?" most likely because it was more profitable for Anaconda to do so, than to be held responsible for all the pollution and have to spend profits to clean it up. Makes for a romantic "rah rah union" song, but looks as if the songsmith was playing a little fast and loose with the whole truth. Not that I'm union bashing, because Anaconda and the previous owners, probably had about as much respect for their workers as they did for the environment.

The ARD (acid rock drainage) from the abandoned mines at Britannia are the worst point source metals pollution problem in North America according to Environment Canada. I wouldn't recommend consumption of shellfish or water from that area.


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 04:08 AM

Thank you, Martin. The other sites you located have excellent detail. Your dates are correct and mine are wrong. The strike referred to must have been the 1946 one - and the Anaconda ownership as it were "backdated". The mine was, as you say, closed in 1974, the same year that Graber recorded the song for Phil Thomas. You might look at "The Copper Mountain Raise", another of Graber's mining songs. I think it's in the DT. He also was responsible for the circulation of "The Arbutus", which he said came from his Irish family. The song is a variant of Child 200 "Willy of Winsbury", and there has been much speculation on its origin in threads here.


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 04:10 AM

Sorry, Willie o Winsbury is Child 100, not 200; the old memory's not what it was!


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Subject: Origins: Britannia Mine??
From: Stewart
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:41 PM

Paddy Graber gave me a tape of some of his songs, and on that tape is the Britannia Mine. I've just transcribed his introduction to the song, which tells his account of the incident.

"Maybe I should sing a song that I wrote in 1960, the first strike at the mine at Britannia Beach. The saddest kind of dispute that miners or anybody else who works in the trade union movement can find themselves in is when there's raiding by another union. The contract for the miners at Copper Beach, or Britannia at that time, was under the jurisdiction of the Mine, Mill and Smelters Workers, and they were supposed to be a very left wing union, but they were being raided by the United Steelworkers, who at that time were so crooked that they had to screw their socks on. They've since amalgamated and kissed and made up, but it's very very hard to stomach. The company at that time was an American company, Anaconda Copper, and when the time came for the contracts to be rewritten, the miners wanted a 10-cent an hour increase. The company wanted to cut the wages by 15 cents an hour, which meant it would be a loss of 25 cents and the miners weren't in a position to take that. So they voted for a strike, and when they went on strike the company locked them out and they threatened that if they didn't go back on the terms that the company offered, they would take the pumps out of the mine. The mines would flood and they would never ever work again. Well, the people of B.C. raised hell about that, and the pumps have had to remain in the mine, even though since that time the mine has closed down. But as I mentioned before, the song Skibereen is a question of why did you leave Ireland, and in this song that I put together, the question is why did they close down Britannia Beach." - Paddy Graber.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: MartinRyan
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 03:59 PM

Many thanks, Stewart.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 08:58 PM

Yes, this is pretty much the story as Paddy told me. If there indeed was a strike at Britannia in 1960, it wasn't against Anaconda (since as Martin said they didn't become owners for 3 years). Paddy can be pretty unreliable about dates, the provenance of songs he "had from his family" etc. The history of this really ought to be checked. Any takers?


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 08:43 PM

Just made a visit to the mine - pilgrimage, really.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Britannia Mine??
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 09:06 PM

There WAS a strike against Anaconda, the last owners of the mine, in 1963/4, incidentally.

Regards


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