I was born on January 15, 1900 in Belgium.We came to Canada in 1913 before WWI, landing in Nova Scotia. My father was an old coal miner all his life.We both went to work in No. 15 Colliery in New Waterford when I was thirteen years old.
We stayed in Nova Scotia until 1916 when we came out west to harvest. I ended up working in a gopher hole coal mine in the Rosebud Valley near Standard.We were getting a dollar a car but we couldn't get enough coal out to satisfy the farmers or make any money. So we went to Rosedale in the Drumheller Valley. They hired the old man right away because he got miner's papers but they wouldn't hire me. Finally they hired me as a driver.
We stayed at Rosedale until 1917. Then I came to Canmore in 1918. I started digging coal right away with my old man. In the early days, there were not many Belgian families in Canmore but lots of other nationalities.
I worked in the coal mines fifty-three years and finally retired in 1966.
There was an Italian driver who was having a hell of a time with one horse. He was talking to the horse in Italian. Some days that damn horse would only pull one car and the next day it would only pull two cars. Oh, he was having all kinds of trouble so he stayed home one day. Then they put me on his run. The first thing that I did was hook up four loads. The son-of-a-gun wouldn't pull. So I said, You'll pull, you bugger, Dick was his name, you'll pull. I turned around and I started looking for a little bit of fine slack and I got hold of his ear and I poured it down his ear.Then I said,You'll go, you bugger. He went too, by golly. He pulled the four cars while shaking his head. So the next day that guy was off and I had to go back on that same run. When I got a hold of his ear, the horse knew what was coming and started pulling.
Now I fool around in the garden. I like working in dirty clothes. Every day I play cards at the golf course.
If I didn't like Canmore, I wouldn't be here.