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Page 19
Edwin Spievak
Retired Underground Coal Miner

I was born in Poland in 1917. My family came to Canada in 1922. My father worked at the Bankhead Mine in the briquette plant, the last year the mine operated. Then he went underground at Michel, British Columbia. I started with my father as a contract miner at Michel. In all, I worked 31 years underground and 14 on the surface.

Coal mining was more or less for family. If your father was a miner, you'd go down to the office every morning before they started and look for a job. Mining coal as a contract miner was good work. There was always something about it that was a challenge.

You can always tell a good miner when you see one - just look at his tools. If he has ugly-looking tools - dull and everything - that's the kind of miner he is. If he has sharp tools, he's sharp. I still have 15 or 16 picks in my basement. To use a pick on coal took knack, not muscle. You could feel the gas work the coal once you got started.

I got laid off after 45 years. How could they lay me off after 45 years?

Easy - because a person is no good any more.

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