Cambria Publishing
mining songs, music, photographs Lawrence Chrismas
Alberta Oilpatch Gallery
Fort Mcmurray

I was born in 1927 in Durham, England. My father was a coal miner for about 55 years. We had at least four generations of coal miners in my family including myself. Originally I had never wanted to go into the coal mines but when I left school at 14 years of age, my father kept me out of the mines because he didn't want me to go underground with him and my two brothers who were already underground in the same colliery. The Essential Work Committee sent me to a coal mine because of the war. When I was 16 I was already underground. I ended up in the Medical core of the army and got posted to Korea/Japan. I returned to the mines and was there until 1966 when we decided to move for health reasons to Elk Point in Alberta where my sister was living. My wife used to hate it when l went in the pits.

At Elk Point I worked at the salt plant in Lindberg for three years. They recovered the salt by pumping it up as brine. I enjoyed the work but the money was poor. In 1969 someone came around recruiting for Suncor in Fort McMurray. I started on the conveyors but ended up in the training department. I refused at first, I am always refusing things because of my army training you never volunteer for anything. I worked for Suncor until 1986 then I got laid off- early retirement. I worked 17 years for Suncor and approximately 25 years underground which includes the five years I did in the army.

Coal mining never phased me one little bit. It was a challenge to me and if I say it myself' I was good at it. Its the pride you take in it. Working on the conveyor systems in the oil sands was a piece of cake compared to the coal mines. I used to enjoy walking along the conveyors to inspect them and it would keep me in shape.