Johnny Wetsch, Retired Shovel Operator & Casper Fiest, Retired Welder, Estevan


Since I retired, my hobby is building pumpjacks and windmills out of scrap metal. I betcha I made 20 of those things... I gave them all away. All the kids got some and I sold the odd one.

I started at the Truax-Traer Mine near Estevan the winter of 1938. That mine was one of the first surface mines in the area. My first job was laying railway track for haulage motors. Then I was moved to the shop area where I learned to be a welder. I was a welder for 36 years.

I liked welding because there were always different things to do and we were always inventing stuff. Most of the time at the mines, I was on bucket maintenance, repairing the breakdowns on the buckets and doing general maintenance work at the pit.

I'd go back and do the same thing all over again. There was something different every day. You could always learn something.


I was born in 1909 in Cannonball, North Dakota. In 1930, I was working on a farm and got laid off. I didn't have any place to go so I came to work at the Truax-Traer Mine. Most of the time, I worked as a shovel operator. I had other jobs too, such as oiler on the shovels. I worked at various surface mines in the Estevan area and did some stripping at the Sheerness Mine in Alberta.

I didn't like it all the time but I liked it most of the time. It was a steady job for raising a family.

I retired in 1966, when I was 62 years old.