Retired Coal Miner
Although I have lived in Canada longer than I lived in Wales, I am a true, bloody Welshman. I was born in 1902, and went into the Welsh mines with my dad at 14. For ten years, I worked at the Baldwin's anthracite mine in Wales.
Then in 1928, we had a long strike in England. My father-in-law moved to Canmore to get established and we followed later. But it was difficult getting a job at that point because Canmore was only working two days a week.
When I started in the mine, all you could buy were those cloth hats. They used to get rotten from the sweat. I also remember that when I started, we had candles in the mine. Then we had the gas lamps, the carbide lamps It was tought during the Depression. There were few cars so even a trip to Calgary was a big ordeal. If it wasn't for the manager of the company store then giving you credit, half of the people would have starved to death.
I remember about 1935 my daughter ran into the house and said her friend had fallen off the bank into the Bow River. I ran out and saw her struggling and dived into the river. It was winter time and there was ice forming but I could reach and save her. The government awarded me a medal for that. It was really some day when I saved that little girl's life.
There were only about a dozen Welshmen in Canmore then true Welshmen, that is. Now we have so many different people coming into Canmore and they are not coal miners. They are a different class of people. They are not the same. You haven't got the community spirit as we had when the mine was going. There were about 300 coal miners in Canmore, and we were closer knit then. In those days if a man died in the mine it was compulsory to go to the funeral. You could be fired by the union if you didn't go.
I only worked in two mines all my life. But even with 50 years in the mines, they never carried me out on a stretcher. I was lucky. I got a clock for 40 years of loyal service to Canmore Mines. It is a beautiful clock but what good is a clock when you are retired? You want to sleep in and not wake up.