William Davis Miners' Memorial Day
Davis Day, also known as Miners' Memorial Day (and since November 25, 2008, officially William Davis Miners' Memorial Day), is an annual day of remembrance observed on June 11 in coal mining communities in Nova Scotia, Canada whereby citizens recognize all miners who were killed on the job in the province.
Davis Day originated in memory of William Davis, a coal miner who was killed during a mining strike near the town of New Waterford. The protest was in response to a decision by the mining company, British Empire Steel and Coal Company (BESCO), to shut down the drinking water supply and electricity to the town as a result of previous escalating strikes.
Davis was shot and killed at approximately 11:00 AM on June 11, 1925 and many other miners were injured, when striking miners were charged by the company police force, whose officers fired over 300 shots. In the weeks and months following Davis' shooting, company facilities were looted and/or vandalized, despite the deployment of the provincial police force and 2,000 soldiers in what remains Canada's second-largest military deployment for an internal conflict (after the Northwest Rebellion).
In commemoration of Davis' sacrifice, the United Mine Workers of America designated the day in his honour, with miners in Nova Scotia vowing to never work on "Davis Day" ever again. Davis Day was renamed District Memorial Day in 1938 (after District 26, U.M.W.A.) and in 1970, the date was changed to the second Monday in June. In 1974 this was reverted, with the original name (Davis Day) and the date (June 11) being restored. For the remainder of the 20th century, the pledge of never working on June 11 was maintained and Davis Day was observed as a quasi-civic holiday in most mining communities. The closure of Nova Scotia's last coal mine in November 2001 by DEVCO has somewhat muted the importance of Davis Day, however it has evolved to become a remembrance day for all workers killed in mines in the province.
Davis Day is observed in some or all of the following communities where the UMWA organizes services:
- Alder Point
- Sydney Mines
- New Victoria
- New Waterford
- North Sydney
- Glace Bay
- Port Morien
- River Hebert
In 1994, 1996 and 1999, private member's bills to officially designate June 11 as Davis (Miners Memorial) Day were introduced in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. They did not proceed past first reading. In 2008 a private member's bill to officially designate June 11 as William Davis Miners' Memorial Day was introduced and passed.
- The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925 By Craig Heron