John Yorke, North Drumheller, AB

I was born in 1905 in Lethbridge. My father was born in Czechoslovakia – he was a coal miner in various mines in the Lethbridge and Crowsnest Pass regions.

I started mining in the Galt No. 6 Mine in Lethbridge when I was 16. Later, I worked in mines in the Drumheller, East Coulee, Lethbridge, Shaughnessy, Coleman and Medicine Hat areas. I held a variety of jobs: trapper, horse driver, rope rider, mining machine operator, fire boss and finally mine tour guide at the Atlas Mine in East Coulee. I considered myself an expert at breaking in and driving horses. Once, I drove a three-horse spike team, hauling coal underground.

During the summer months, when the mines did not work because no one would buy coal, I played professional baseball for the Galt Miners in Lethbridge and for a team in Vancouver.

In the summertime, you want to be outside. When that old winter comes and it starts to get cold, you head down that hole and you get used to it. I enjoyed the mines, but there were some tough times.

I wanted to quit the mines when I was 70, but the Atlas people asked me to give underground tours at the mine. Finally, at the age of 75 and after 58 years in the mines, I said it was time to quit.