John Kucherenko, East Coulee, AB

I was a contract miner, diggin' coal, knocking it down and loading it into mine cars. I worked 18 years for the Atlas Mine and 10 years at the Murray Mine. I worked more than 30 years in the mines of the Red Deer Valley – too long.

I am Ukrainian and came to this country in 1926. In the Valley, I first worked in Wayne, then came to East Coulee in 1930. They were hard times, no jobs. But I got a job in the mine and stayed in the mines. On the north side of the river, I was in both the Empire and the Atlas mines until 1936. Now I am 80 years old.

I gotta like mining because it was my life. When you worked in the mine, it was good pay. You couldn't get that anyplace else. Now I get a $200 union pension.

I always wanted to be my own boss. When I wanted to sit down and have a cigarette, I couldn't do it. When the machines came, you had to work continuously.

I retired in 1953 – the manager was mad at me because I quit. I didn't want to work on the mining machines. I didn't like the Joy loader because it was dusty and too noisy, and the roof was not very well protected. So I got a job in a mine that didn't have machines.

For 40 years, I went hunting for geese and ducks with my neighbour John Hort. Now I'm too old to go hunting, but I sure miss it.