About People

W. W. Murray April 15 1929

About People

W. W. Murray April 15 1929

About People

W. W. Murray

DESCENDING from the SydneyGlace Bay street car at Caledonia Crossing a few days ago, a stranger to Glace Bay accosted an urchin at the foot of Lake Road.

“Can you tell me where Mr. Morrison lives?”

“Whut Mr. Morrison?’’

“Mayor Morrison.”

“Huh!” An indulgent gleam lit up the youngster’s face. “Yuh mean Dan Willie, dontcha?”

And it was so. From Cape North to Cape Sable, Glace Bay’s chief magistrate is plain “Dan Willie.” Few mortals could wear it and remain normal. Not so His Worship. It was tagged on him forty years ago when he was a barefooted gamin running around the slag-piles and mine-heads of Canada’s largest town—it boasts a population of 18,000. He took it into the 12th Canadian Field Battery during the war, and not even the exalted rank of sergeant suppressed its outcroppings. When he became mayor of Glace Bay in 1921—an office which he continues to fill with worth and dignity— the miners cast their ballots for “Angus Morrison’s son, Dan Willie.” They had sent him to the Nova Scotia Legislature the previous year, and only a few months ago they crowned their trust in him by electing him president of District 26, the United Mineworkers of America.

Mayor Morrison’s life is not much dissimilar from that of other men born and brought up in a Cape Breton mining town. For years he was check-weighman, a functionary whose duty it is to record the output of each miner, thus assuring the workman being credited with no less and no more than he Í3 entitled to. A delicate job, and an important one. The check-weighman is elected by the miners themselves; and year after year Dan Willie Morrison enjoyed their confidence and their suffrages.

He had been town councillor before he widened his political horizons; but when he did so, he was sent to the Province House at Halifax in 1920 with the largest majority ever vouchsafed a candidate in Cape Breton. The Conservative tornado of 1925 swirled around Glace Bay also; and when it was all over Dan Willie lay gasping among the debris. However, his re-election as mayor was the cordial assurance to him that his political defeat was something divorced from municipal matters, and that, in spite of everything, he was still Glace Bay’s favorite son.

Mayor Morrison is no office-seeker. He was reluctant to oppose J. W. McLeod, the retiring president of the United Mineworkers last year; but his friends were adamant. He yielded finally, compromising on this—that he would conduct no campaign. Nor did he. Yet he was elected by 1,500 majority.

He has administered Glace Bay through periods of storm and stress. His was the regime that saw the soldiers guarding the British Empire Steel Corporation’s property during the strike a few years back; and his voice was the loudest in protest against this armed invasion of Glace Bay. The town has never paid the charges incurred by the troops; and he firmly avows that so long as he is mayor it never will.

His Worship is bilingual—he speaks both English and Gaelic. The latter is his mother-tongue: English had to be acquired. Perhaps this factor, linked as it is with all the legends of the Highland Scot, has created in him that strain of deep gravity which is impenetrable until it dissipates entirely on closer acquaintance. His outstanding characteristic is his sincerity. Not even his most robust opponent has ever sought to impugn his motives. About him is an air of quiet decision, developed from years of deliberation on all matters affecting the life, the character, and the economics of his community. He reads much and is a student of current affairs.

Glace Bay numbers hundreds of war veterans. The local command of the Canadian Legion is a strong one, and in Mayor Morrison the ex-service men find not only an old comrade, but a sound guide, philosopher and friend.

Dan Willie is forty-seven years old, married, and has five children. His domestic life is happy, for in Mrs. Morrison, who was Miss Julia McLeod before her marriage, he has a helpmeet of grace and charm, the incorporation of typical Cape Breton friendliness and hospitality.