On June 20th, 1984, a seismic event measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale struck Falconbridge Mine at approximately 10:12 a.m. in northeastern Ontario.
There were about 200 miners on shift that day. The major damage to the mine was between the 3800-foot level and the 4200-foot level.
During the first attempts of rescue, a second seismic event occurred, at which time immediate rescue operations ceased and plans were made to evacuate the mine. Consultation with the Union, Management and the Ontario Ministry of Labour proceeded.
Stench gas was pumped throughout the mine in order to alert other miners of the emergency. Evacuation of the mine was completed at approximately 2 p.m. that day. Twenty- four hour, around the clock rescue operations were immediately set up in order to free four trapped miners.
Voice contact eventually was established with one of the trapped miners. However, after 27 hours, just 15 minutes before the rescue teams could free him, this brave miner passed away. Although rescue operations continued for the other three miners for several more days, regrettably, rescue efforts were not successful in bringing them out alive.
On June 20th, 1985, the Sudbury Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers' Union, Local 598 established the first Workers' Memorial Day, in remembrance of the four miners who lost their lives one year earlier. Janet Moore, recording artist and composer, wrote the song "The Rugged Miner" in memory of the four miners, their wives and families. The song has since become a tribute to all miners throughout the world.
First Worker's Memorial Day service held at the Bell Park Ampitheatre, June 20th, 1985