For 200 years, coal mining had been a way of life in Cape Breton. By 1920 things were looking up: miners were unionized and paid decent wages. Then the British Empire Steel Corporation arrived and bought every single steel and coal company in Nova Scotia. BESCO cut wages by a third, setting off a bitter labour dispute. The miners settled in for a long strike. Finally, in 1925, the military ended the unrest with brute force. But the miners, in one sense, had won. They broke up the monopoly and provided an example to workers across the country.