Andy came from Scotland around 1912, and worked in the mines at Commerce. He boarded at our place (the Walkers) for many years. He instructed first aid, was president of the Coalhurst community club, and played Santa Claus every year when the miners' union gave candy and presents to all the kids. Andy was a strong swimmer and enjoyed gardening. When the mine was idle he worked on his brother's farm for the summer. The following story was printed in the Lethbridge Herald:
Broad shouldered Andy Barrie, a 48 year old scottish miner and survivor of several mine disasters, today stood silently in the Community club hall here while his co-workers sat in little groups discussing last night's tragedy, the death of 16 comrades.
Andy who came from Scotland 22 years ago and a veteran of the Lethbridge Coal fields, was one who volunteered to seek his pals in the doomed pit. He was the first man to volunteer for underground duty in the gas laden mine.
With a canary brought from the miners home, Barrie entered the pit going right through to the cave in where 10 of the bodies were found. Leading a squad of rescue crew, Barrie headed in, never knowing when a second explosion might rock the lower levels.
You know he said, "a canary can't live in gas, I took the bird in to make the test. Only once did he flutter and we found the mine almost clear of gas. Far from the shaft, Barrie and his men found the first body. We didn't need to feel his pulse, there was no doubt about the blackened face, he was dead. Another body, he related, was found under a mine car and nearby lay a dead horse. The car had been thrown on top of its driver.
The hardy Scot, holder of the St. John Ambulance Association award for his first aid work, knows what it means to be trapped below the surface. He was entombed for many hours several years ago in a mine near Butte, Montana. The death toll there was 18. Another time he was held prisoner with many companions in a smoke filled pit while rescuer's battled to their aid. The toll there was 2 dead and many injured.
I was very close to Andy and he was respected by anyone who knew him. He passed away, the result of a heart attack on December 31, 1936.
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