Joe Beiland & Victor Belik, Retired Coal Miners, Hillcrest, AB

There are many good things about mining if you're not in a hazardous situation. You never know when it is going to cave. It cracks and breaks and it makes you run. Then you have to go and dig again, and then run out again. Well some guys were crazy being brave and some guys were cowards. You know, a live coward is better than a brave guy who gets killed.

My father came here in 1913 from Russia. He was a coal miner for 45 years, and worked mainly in the Mohawk Mine as timber packer boss. I was born in 1925 in Hillcrest. I started bucking coal in the Mohawk Mine with my buddy, John Fry when I was 16 years old. This work was followed by jobs in the Hillcrest Mine and the McGillvery Mine in Coleman.

I bought this house in 1942 for $800.

In the early '50s, we were off work more than we were on work. In 1959, I went to the King Gething Mine in Hudson Hope, British Columbia. Then, in 1969, I went to Grande Cache as a fireboss, and became the underground foreman. I dug 78 adits for coal exploration. I was glad to be at Grande Cache. It's lovely country. I looked forward to going to work every day. I was making good money and working six or seven days a week, sometimes.

You know, a coal miner is just like a fisherman with his fish tales. In the bar we dig more coal than in the mine, because ever man brags about what they do. I know one thing: there is no coal miner who knows everything. One never knows too much, there's always room to learn.