Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Miners' Museum to install simulator to recreate mining experience

The museum that already features a guided tour of an actual underground coal mine will soon be able to offer that experience in an above-ground simulator.

Museum will receive $1.5M from federal government for upgrades

A number of new features will be operational by the fall. (CBC)

The Cape Breton Miners' Museum has received just over $1.5 million for upgrades to recreate the mining experience.

"This is like a dream come true," said museum executive director Mary Pat Mombourquette.

"This is going to help us create a vital, dynamic museum that will immerse our visitors in the coal-mining experience. I can't wait to start making it happen."

The money from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Heritage Canada will pay for the construction of a briefing room and a lamp house, recreating a miner's daily trip to and from the mine.

The museum in Glace Bay, N.S., already famously features a guided tour of an actual underground coal mine.

Mombourquette said the most important new addition will be a simulator of a rake car, used to take miners down the slope of the mine.

"So there'd be 15 seats in the rake car on benches and these seats will go up and down, back and forth, so it will give you the feeling that you're moving.

"Then, 360 degrees around you will be media, film that will make you feel like you're going down into the mine. So, you're going to see men digging, you're going to see coal cars coming up the mine.

"We're even playing around with, 'Could we do an explosion?' So, it's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The simulator will be like going down into a mine "without actually going down in the mine," Mombourquette said, adding that it should be especially popular with those who are afraid to go underground and people with mobility issues who can't take the underground tour.

Mombourquette said excavation and construction for the new museum elements will begin this spring, with the simulator operational by the fall.

With files from Gary Mansfield