John Bachlet, Retired Coal Miner, Fernie, BC

I was born 1901 in Czechoslovakia. I first started coal mining at the Hillcrest Mine in Alberta in 1926. Then I came to Fernie in 1928 and got a job in the mine at Coal Creek. I also worked four or five years at Michel.

When I started, it was strictly hand-loading with shovel and pick. I quit in 1963.

Now I keep busy with rabbits and chickens. I have 29 rabbits - they are a Belgian breed. In the old days, I always had rabbits. I have a big yard to grow hay. There is always something to do when you have a big yard.

I liked digging coal the best. You betcha your life I liked being a coal miner - I was lucky! Twice, I was a little bit hurt, but not that bad.

One time, my boss says, "Hey, John, you work a long time in the mine. You want I should put you outside? Take you from inside and put you outside?" I say, no thanks and he just looks at me. I say, what's the matter now? He says, "John, if you like the job, it's pleasure. If you don't, it's murder."

Yes, it's true.