Nova Scotia Archives

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

J. Allister Bowman, district plant superintendent, Maritime Tel & Tel, using earphones for word from entombed men in Moose River Mine Disaster, N.S., April 1936

On 12 April, Dr. D. E. Robertson, Herman Magill and Alfred Scadding were trapped by a cave-in at the 141-foot level of the Moose River gold mine, Halifax County. They remained entombed until rescue miners and draegermen reached them on 23 April. Unfortunately, Magill died in the interim from pneumonia which developed from exposure. Roland H. Sherwood's Story Parade includes a chapter on the disaster; he wrote that "two way conversation with the men below was important so the telephone company rushed in wire, men and amplifiers, while back at their workshop in Halifax... [employees built and tested] a tiny microphone that would be small enough to be lowered down a pipe with only one inch in which to slide freely." Reporters also converged on the disaster, providing the first-ever live radio news coverage in Canada. As Sherwood relates:

The radio broadcasts began on Monday, April 20th, at 6 p.m. when two minute bulletins were given out at half hour intervals. During the course of the broadcasts, 93 two minute flashes were transmitted. These passed from the radio car at Moose River Mines over covered wire strung along the ground and on the trees, over 17 miles of built up circuit on the farmer line to Middle Musquodoboit, then on to Halifax, out onto the telegraph lines of the Canadian Pacific to Ottawa. From there it was distributed to 58 stations over the entire network of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission in Canada, and on to the networks of the United States to serve 650 radio stations there. Everywhere on the North American continent, sponsors of radio programs cut their regular shows by two minutes in order that their listeners might receive the radio bulletins from Moose River. This was the largest broadcast hookup originating on this continent, and set a world record for that time.

Date: April 1936

Reference: Nova Scotia Archives  Photo Drawer - Places - Moose River - Mine Disaster, 1936  / neg. no.: N-0318

Nova Scotia Archives —

Crown copyright © 2022, Province of Nova Scotia.