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THERESE MACADAM: Miner’s son, but not a miner

Mike Boone at Franey Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands, after a hike to the top. CONTRIBUTED
Mike Boone at Franey Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands, after a hike to the top. CONTRIBUTED

In an era when we talked to people on the telephone or actually sat down and wrote them a letter, 1980 ushered in a decade that brought VCRs, big hair and breakdancing.

In that same year, Mike Boone was deciding what to do with his life. He chose a job at Seaside Communications and never looked back.

“Miners are a special breed of people,” Boone said. “I worked two days in the mine and I quit.”

This was a time in Glace Bay’s history when a career in mining was very lucrative. The town was booming, as generations of fathers and sons descended into the deeps. Boone’s father was a coal miner and to break away from family tradition was frowned upon, but Boone would make up for leaving the mine behind with a lucrative career of his own.

Boone began working for Seaside Communications as a janitor and worked his way up the line to technical roles both in the field and at the office. He would take courses for every technical position hosted by the company, and that training took him as far away as Horsham, Pa.

One of the things he is most proud of is that he and his sister, Donna Grant, worked together for many years. The siblings put in a combination of 80 years at the communications company.

“Seaside Communications was a very good company to work for over the years,” he said.

Boone spent 17 years as a lineman and 14 years at headend.

“It is not the kind of work for anybody,” he mentioned, adding the field work can be a dangerous.

He remembers being out in the field and having several accidents. One accident left him with a pin in his leg. But he loved working for the company and was there until his retirement.

Growing up in Glace Bay, Boone lived on Connaught Avenue and attended New Aberdeen School and then Morrison High School.

His father was Michael Boone and mother Joan Copley. Mike has two sisters and a brother.

“I just want to point out that my youngest brother is 63, I’m 64, my sister Donna is 65, and my sister Ruth is 66,” he said, adding he and his brother as well as his two sisters are the same age for a few months each year.

Glace Bay will always be his home. Fond memories of places like the Russell Theatre (movie house) and The Rat Hole (pool hall) on Commercial Street are vividly remembered like they were yesterday.

“I was certainly not the type of person that would leave here,” Boone mentions.

“I played a lot of hockey at the Miners Forum. I’m glad to hear that they are changing the name of the (rink) back to the Miners Forum.” The old Miners Forum was replaced by the Bayplex in the mid-1990s and now after a complete overhaul, the old name will be brought back.

Boone played peewee hockey for New Aberdeen as well as common school hockey.

He is starting to gear himself into the life of a retiree. He loves to hike, belongs to the walking club, Island Hoppers, has spiritual interests, and is interested in volunteering in the community.

One of the first things he did when he retired was paint the inside of his house. Retirement is the perfect time to do things you have been putting off.

In an era when everyone was talking “pit-talk,” Boone chose a new direction for himself. With training, hard work and dedication, he proved that anything is possible when you are from a coal mining town.

Therese MacAdam is a Glace Bay writer with a deep interest in the community and its people.

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