|Charlie Hubman & Joe Shandruk
Retired Coal Miners
When I started, Canmore had more Ukrainians than any other nationality. And there must have been a hundred Chinese men working at Canmore Mines. We'd all be in a line on Saturday to get our pay. A hundred of us in a line and the front guy would be talking to the last guy in line. And the end guy would be hollering something to the front guy It was a jolly old town then.
My dad was a coal miner. He farmed around Vegreville in the summer and used to come back to Canmore in the wintertime and work in the mines. My dad started No. 1 Mine in 1908 and, when he quit underground, he went to No. 2 Mine.
I started working in the tipple in 1927 when I was 15 years old. When I was about 18, I went underground, driving horses. I did rope-riding and running hoists; I went on the coal as a contract miner and I did that for years. I pretty near made 50 years at the coal mine. In 1960, I had a couple of vertebrae broken in my neck and I was done for two years. After that, I went back on surface in the shop, repairing mine cars until I retired. I was on the executive of the union. Once you get involved in that, you just get in deeper and deeper. I was the president of the union for 22 years. I retired from the position in 1960. It took a lot of my time; there was always somebody on the phone.There was friction all the time.
In 1938, we amalgamated our local union, the United Mine Workers of Canada, with the UMWA. When Tim Buck got out of jail, he'd come up and address the meeting in Canmore. Dr. Bethune also came here, as did Harvey Murphy.
The Canmore Union Hall was built around 1910; I had an office there and every Sunday, the executive would meet at noon with the union meeting following at 2:00 p.m. When things were rough and tough, the union hall was always filled but when they were getting good paycheques, it was empty all the time. - Joe Shandruk