The Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay, N.S., says it needs more volunteers or it risks closing part of the museum for the busy fall tourism season.
The museum received funding for summer students this year, which allowed the replica company house — where miners would live with their families — and the store to open for the first time in four years. The buildings were restored during the winter.
That money runs out in a few weeks when the students go back to school. With the tourism season still in full swing, staff say they need help.
“What I'm hoping is that I get enough volunteers that I can man them from Monday to Sunday,” said Kim Leader, the museum volunteer co-ordinator.
She says they need about 50 volunteers to act as guides through the exhibits. The museum is open until Oct. 20.
“The cruise ships are starting to come and there's bus tours in September and October. It'd be nice to get everybody to see these. They were closed long enough so it's good to have them open,” said Leader.
An underground tour of the actual coal mine is the main attraction for the museum.
Former coal miners take tourists through, telling stories along the way. Some tourists say it's getting inside the at-risk buildings that completes the experience.
“The mines are all about the guys, the men that are underground. They were very clear there was never any women underground. Some of the stories we heard underground were some things about this [company house] what it was like for me growing up as a child and so on, but to actually see the buildings you hear them talk about, see what they're like, really makes it a little bit more real,” said visitor Doug Pettapiece.
“When you have someone to help you see it all and explain it and show the differences to you, it really adds to the experience, for sure,” said tourist Dave King.