An extract from an interview with Kenny Wilson
Malagash, Nova Scotia, Canada


An extract from an interview with Kenny Wilson who began work at the Malagash Salt Mine in 1950. Kenny is speaking about why the new mine was developed in Pugwash in the late 1950's and the differences between the two mines.

So we have got to the middle fifties, and you said you were starting to travel around Nova Scotia looking for more salt.

I did that for just a short time. We had discovered, the other drill had discovered salt all the way from Mabou, Cape Breton right up to the French coast of New Brunswick. They had discovered salt in many places, some of it the purity not so good, or contaminated with something else. But in Pugwash they found a dome of salt. Not a seam, a dome is just a big body of salt.


And salt is always protected in gypsum, that's the reason it doesn't wash away under the ground, it's protected by gypsum. And they found a big body of it in Pugwash and they decided to sink a shaft there, so they transferred me to Pugwash in 1955, about March 1955. The sinking of the shaft was only supposed to take us about six months and we ran into all kinds of troubles, quick sand, pressure, no bed rock there and it took us a little over four years. And at that time it was over a million dollars which was a lot of money.

So what the main reason that everything closed because everything shifted to Pugwash, because there was this big concentration of salt there?


Because it was cheaper to mine that than what it was to mine in Malagash?

Oh yes, absolutely.

So how is the mining different than in Pugwash than in Malagash?

The mine in Pugwash is what you call a "checkerboard" system, that's the simplest word for it. We went underground, down the shaft and then broke out; they call it, started moving material out of the way, shipping it to deck. You make a drift which is just a highway about thirty feet wide and sixty feet high, and that undercutter makes a smooth floor in a certain way and you dynamite a certain way and it makes a pretty square highway. And down in Pugwash of course you can use 'cat-haulers', trucks, front-end loaders, lots of room you see whatever size you want the drift to be.

Which they couldn't use here in Malagash?

No. The production is way above what you could do in Malagash.

So for that reason I suppose it was cheaper to mine there as well?


So when did the mine close in Malagash then?


And it opened up in Pugwash or it had opened up in Pugwash?

No it didn't open up in Pugwash until 1960, officially. Ha had a little down-time between the two mines there, but most people were still working because they were still building the mine, the mill, the hoist house.

This was in Pugwash?

Yes. And the storeroom, everything had to be built same as they did in Malagash originally.

So did most of the workers move to Pugwash from here?

Yes they did. Some retired, but most of them moved to Pugwash.

So what was the impact on Malagash when the mine closed operations here?

I think everyone thought it was going to be a ghost town, but of course over a period of time the grand-children moved back and everything else.

But it must have had a pretty big impact because you said there were 120 people when you started in 1950, and that's quite a few jobs in a small area. Were most of the workers from the immediate or from further away?

When they sunk the shaft, I always think of the history of it, in 1918, they always say that the miners sunk the shaft in Malagash. It was the farmers who sunk the shaft in Malagash. They became miners afterwards.