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Gail Weir

St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater, 1989. 142pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-920911-69-2. (Canada's Atlantic Folklore and Folklife series). CIP

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up
Reviewed by Catherine R. Cox.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

This is the fifteenth book in "Canada's Atlantic Folklore and Folklife" series. Like other books in this series, The Miners of Wabana is based on oral history. It tells the story of the miners' lives at home and down the mine on Bell Island, Newfoundland.

The business, technical and labour history of the iron mines is very briefly covered by the author. This book is more concerned with the working life of the miners, the jokes they played on one another, their superstitions, their memories of the war, and the tragedies in the mine.

As in any book based on interviews, there are a lot of sections of personal reminiscences transcribed from actual conversations. A lot of the narrative also reads like a conversation made up of short sentences and colloquialisms. This does no harm and makes the book readable and personal.

There is no index, but the table of contents is informative. The author has included a good bibliography. The interesting illustrations are black-and-white photographs collected from the miners, the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and the National Archives of Canada.

This is a fascinating book. The stories are funny, sad and touching, and give us an insight into a type of life that is better known in other parts of Atlantic Canada. It is a readable book and might have an application to the curriculum in any part of Canada where mining life and techniques are discussed.

Catherine R. Cox, Moncton High School, Moncton, N.B.
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