Days   of   my   Youth
I categorize the days of my youth to include those days from the time I left home at 16 to go to work at Noranda Mines until my marriage in 1958 at age 23. This time period encompassed  my work at Noranda, attending mining school in Haileybury, graduation, working in the deep mines of Kirkland Lake and most importantly the time I spent working in Northern Quebec at the Merrill Island Mine in Chibougamau. Most of the photo’s attached come from that time. I left Chibougamau to work in Val D’or and then to the booming uranium mines of Elliot Lake.
On the Left; Myself and Willard Last, photo taken in front of our home at the chicken ranch on Goodfish Road about the year I left home. Willard was probably my best friend throughout the previous 5 years. He and his brother William were fisherman, hunters, weight lifters, natural mechanics and all things that I wasn’t. In a way they raised me.
On the Right Above; My Graduation photo from Kirkland Vocational (KLCVI).  The five above had specialized in mining. Tubby Gregoris, Norman Hodgson, Bruce Burke, my self and Donald Dinnen on the right end. Taken in 1952.
I first attended Mining School in the fall of 1953, and the photo above to the left was taken in the summer of 1954. I had returned to Noranda to work for the summer and lived in the bunkhouse with about 50 students from all over Ontario and Quebec. I do not recall what caused me to climb on a table for a better look, but it obviously had captured the attention of others.

My Haileybury graduating class in 1955. Hairleybury was a great experience. Students were of all ages and origins. I was one of the youngest at age 19 when this photo was taken, and there were several Korean war vets approaching 30 years of age. I returned in 2005 for our 50th Anniversary.
On to Chibougamau! Chibougamau was booming in 1955, there were several copper mines developing, exploration crews climbed over every rock and crossed every creek in the wild boom. At one time we could count 35 diamond drills operating on the ice of Dore Lake. Guy Darcy got me a job at the developing Merrill Island Mine and I flew in by beaver in Sept. of 1955.

On the left: Arnold Sobering, the Mine Manager. In those days the Mine Manager was king of his domain. They were invariably tough and hard nosed men, and Arnold was certainly tough. But he was also honest and fair, and was the first mine manager who actually spoke to me.
In the centre above, I stand in front of the Cafeteria and kitchen.
In the photo at the right; I hold my first transit as a mine surveyor.
On the Left; A Wild theodolite was the newest survey instrument in mining in those days, and I convinced Guy and the Manager to buy one for my use. The mine showing behind me was the Campbell Chibougamau mine on the shores of Dore Lake.

In the centre above: This was what the forerunner of a skidoo looked like in the 1950’s. Built in Arntfield Quebec by Bombardier, every exploration company in the north had one of these for winter work.

On the Right above: Not sure what Guy Darcy was doing in this photo, I am sure that he would remember if he saw it.
We all lived in the bunkhouse in the first winter at the mine. Plywood floors, unpainted tentest walls, communal showers and toilets and grubby diamond drillers leaving black streaks of grease all over the place. Part way through that winter, single staff were allowed to move to the Director’s Lodge and ended up with the best single man housing in the entire camp.
The photo on the left shows the Lodge, and in the centre photo I stand at the back entrance in my new winter boots.
On the right, housing was being built for the impending startup of the mine and this house was designed for single staff use, another upgrade in accommodation for us. The architect lived with us that first year and added a few extra’s in furnishings.
On the Left Above;  We hired a guy I knew from Kirkland Lake as my survey helper, name of Jim Mateer. He was soon convinced that he should be the party leader, but I ignored him. He and I always ended up chasing the same girl when we went out at night. Unfortunately for me, he always won. I never let him meet Gail.

We were both frustrated miners and so when we could get underground on a vacant level, we tried drilling, mucking and pretend diamond drilling as  in the centre photo and on the right. Luckily, we did not injure ourselves or we would have been really hurt by the Mine Manager.
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