Graduate Student Opportunities: Mining Danger Project Call for Students

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Project Background

The Mining Danger Project is a new historical research initiative funded through an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The project will examine the historical impacts of occupational disease, accidents and pollution on mine workers and mining communities in Canada. Mines have presented myriad forms of danger to mine workers: falling rock, collapsing tunnels, flammable gas, or “deadly dusts” that caused occupational diseases (silicosis, blank lung disease, asbestosis, etc.). Although the mining industry’s health and safety record has improved in recent years, during the early decades of the 20th century thousands of miners lost their lives in pursuit of underground riches. Miners, their families, and friends also faced health threats in the communities where they lived owing to chemical pollution from mine processing and waste disposal facilities (smelters, stamp mills, flotation circuits, tailings ponds, etc.). Mining communities have also been impacted by noise pollution, and long-term challenges such as acid mine drainage or contaminated sites that have not been remediated.

Lead-casting wheel operator at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada, Trail, B.C., April 1943. by BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives.

Project Focus

Our research will delve into the stories of mine workers and mining communities who faced the dangers of mining on a daily basis, and who fought through their unions and governments for improved health, safety, and environmental regulations. Based at Memorial, McMaster, and St. Mary’s Universities, researchers will delve into the archival records of government, labour unions, and mining companies, housed at repositories across the country. Our team is made up of the following people:

John Sandlos (Memorial, Dept. of History) is examining the history of mining accidents in Nova Scotia and Ontario.
Jessica van Horssen (McMaster, Dept. of History) and Arn Keeling (Memorial, Dept. of Geography) will trace the health impacts of asbestos from mines and miners, to buildings and factories across Canada.
Heather Green (St. Mary’s, Dept. of History) is delving into the history of black lung disease in Canada’s coal industry.
Ken Cruikshank (McMaster, Dept. of History) is investigating the history of smelter pollution impacts in Canadian mining communities.
Mica Jorgenson (Public Service/University of Northern BC) is researching the historical impacts of silicosis in Canada.

Student Opportunities

Students who are interested in studying any aspect of mine workers or mining communities, especially their historical interactions with mining environments, are encouraged to contact any of the co-investigators for further information. The project is supporting Masters and PhD positions at Memorial (history and geography) and McMaster (history), and Masters positions at St. Mary’s (history) with competitive stipends and funding for student research travel. The Mining Danger Project offers students an opportunity to work in a collaborative and supportive environment with faculty and students across three different universities. For more information, please contact project team members whose interests most align with your own.

Feature Image: “Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Q – Canada – 29 July 2013” by Bryn Pinzgauer is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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