This much-anticipated Buchans Come Home Year, an 18-day party that wraps up Aug. 7, saw hundreds of people return to the central Newfoundland mining town, under the theme “Mining Our Memories.”
The event began July 21 with opening ceremonies at the T. A. Soper Memorial Stadium.
Rob Lane of the committee welcomed everyone on that opening night and introduced fellow Buchaneer, Liam O’Brien who had indeed been ‘mining memories’ as he had been going through the papers and photos of the last mine manager, the late George Neary.
Among the treasures he discovered in Neary’s papers was a shift report and brief history of the MacLeans mine. He framed it so all could take a look.
“MacLeans of course was a mine; the last that really operated and the deepest mine,” explained O’Brien. “There were others — Oriental, Lucky Strike, Old Buchans, and Rothermere — but (MacLeans) is about the last one, because this was the one that was operating just before we shut down in ’84.”
The document is dated Aug. 31, 1984 and work was being carried out at 20 and 21 Level. Twenty-one Level was almost 4,000 feet underground.
In addition to these documents, the committee also had reprints of a book written by Neary, detailing some of the history of the mines.
It was available for sale through the week.
Among the special guests for the opening was MHA Al Hawkins.
“It’s certainly a pleasure for me to be here in Buchans tonight for the beginning of your CHY,” he said. “I know that this community has a strong spirit and has a strong sense of pride in your community, and I just want to encourage you to always hold on to that because it is so very important. Community spirit is the key to the survival of communities. Today more than ever we have to depend on volunteers…”
Hawkins thanked the volunteers who worked to organize the Come Home Year event.
O’Brien echoed those comments.
“I’ve got to say that all this is volunteers, they are all volunteers doing this work,” he said. “This is their own time and me there is nothing more valuable than your time.”
Mayor Derm Corbett welcomed local residents, as well as guests from across Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and the United States.
“You’re certainly welcome and whatever you were before today, after today you will be a Buchaneer,” he said.
The mayor added, “(This event) was two years in the making . . . because what we’ve tried to do is put together a two-week program that will rival anything you will see in this province. We’ve worked to have a variety of activities whether you are 91 or one, there will be plenty of things for you to take part in.”
Mayor Corbett wished everybody a great come home year holiday adding “I want you to party hard as true Buchaneers and Newfoundlanders, party safe, and as our logo says, mine the old memories and make enough brand new memories to last you a lifetime.”