Friday, May 11, 2012

Once there was a real hero ...

This week was interesting in that I spent part of Thursday and then Friday covering the annual competition of the Ontario Mine Rescue teams in Timmins. A lot of people don’t know that Ontario’s own mine rescue program began in Timmins after a terrible fire at the Hollinger Mine back in 1928. Thirty-nine miners died. I wrote a history piece on it for this week’s paper and posted in online as well. One of the most interesting parts came from the testimony at the official Royal Commission inquiry into the disaster. During the inquiry, the story came out about a miner named George Zolob who was trapped with several other men below the 600 level. Poisonous smoke was creeping through the tunnels, but Zolob decided he couldn’t sit there and die. He tore his coveralls into strips of cloth to make primitive face masks for himself and the other six men. Zolob then crawled on his hands and knees through the smoke and darkness to find the shaft leading to surface. Once there he was able to get to the cage (elevator) and get himself and the other miners rescued. Incredible! So here’s the good part. I took a phone call this morning and discovered that Zolob’s daughter is alive, living at the Golden Manor senior’s home. She was pleased with the story and I get to meet her and her son, Zolob’s grandson, on Monday. By the way, the story was told before. It was in the New York Times on February 11th, 1928 … front page! (Click on the image for a larger version.)

1 comment:

Cathy Henderson said...

Len, there are a number of relatives alive, I am George's great-granddaughter and live in Orillia, George's granddaughter Jo-Anne (my mother) also lives in Orillia. Unfortunately, my grandmother Mary Paige died a couple of years ago, she would be George's daughter. I believe the only living daughter/son of George is my Great Aunt Helen Potvin who still lives in Timmins. I believe that's who would have called you. I'm very proud of my great-grandfather George and have been looking for articles about him and the mine disaster but unfortunately am not having much luck with that. Any suggestions you could provide me or direct me to would be much appreciated.
Cathy Henderson