So I quit and bought a train ticket for Vancouver, arriving there on March the 12 in a snowstorm and nearly broke.
On the train to Vancouver I had met a young Alberta cowboy who was going to the city for knee surgery. He was on crutches and needed a little help now and then. We found a cheap old hotel and roomed together to save us both some money.
The next day, while he went to the hospital, I went to the employment office where I showed my passport and immigration papers as well as my qualification papers in agriculture.
I had wanted a job on a more modern farm than the prairie farm where I had been working at which was a hundred years behind the times. However, they completely ignored what I wanted and gave me a ticket to Ocean Falls, a company town with a pulp mill. Once again I realized that the fancy advertising in the Danish papers was phony and that all Canada wanted was as much cheap labour as they could get.
I was running out of money and lived on bread, milk and honey, the cheapest energy I could find, thus I was in Paradise?
Ocean Falls Pulp.
In my hotel I met an old Dane who was living there for the winter. He had been had working up coast in the summer and before I boarded my ship to Ocean Falls he lent me five bucks to help me make it through the next few weeks. After my first paycheque l sent him back his five bucks.On the trip with the coastal steamship I saw my first killer whales in the distance. That was the only excitement.
At Ocean Falls we were taken to bunkhouses located on log floats beneath a steep mountainside. Years later I read about a rockslide there killing seven workers on that same spot.
At Ocean Falls the rent and cost of food was taken off our paycheques. We were some twenty-five newcomers and apparently that was the turnover of workers every week.
Company towns like you for their dirtiest work but otherwise you are not welcome. There is a hierarchy of established higher-wage workers and newcomers always remain the ‘other’; that is the way of all industrial countries.
My work was in the wood grinder where rows of workers stuffed blocks of wood up to a hundred pounds a piece into grinding machines. It was steamy and hot like being in a perpetual steam bath.
After two months and only the occasional sunshine, along with 250 inches of rain, I quit together along with about twenty-five others.
While going back to Vancouver on the steamship I witnessed some vandalism. When dark fell, five young men in their twenties ripped loose everything they could and cast it overboard.
I felt their anger had to do with life in a company town, the monotonous work in a factory, isolation and resentment. I remembered seeing something the same in Sweden, another industrial country.
Below is my view of the country. When it is not all manmade, pretty, isn’t it?
Note from Editor/Daughter: From here my dad traveled back to Vancouver and then headed out to a logging job at Kelsey Bay.
- More of My Dad’s Stories.
- More of My Dad’s Paintings.
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