Gus Latvala - Retired Coal Miner

Gus: I was born in Finland in 1906. I came to Canada to see the country and make some money in 1924. I had a brother here in Canmore. He came about ten years before I did. He was a coal miner too but he got hurt badly and died.

I was eighteen years old in 1925 when I started to work in the No. 2 Mine. I worked thirty years underground and then six years outside in the washery. I had wanted to get out of the mine.The mine is not so nice when it's dark when you go and dark when you come back.The washery was dusty and there was lots of noise.

I worked very hard pushing coal cars. Most of the time it was hand work. Even drilling we used hand augers. Pushing the cars in and out of the working areas was the toughest job.

I was married in 1934. My wife's dad was a gold miner at Rossland, British Columbia. Her people were also from Finland.

I built my own house out of logs with plaster on the walls. I started building it shortly after I was married. I started with two rooms.Then when I got more money, I added a room and built the upstairs when the kids come.

Eddie worked in the mine nineteen years. My other son just worked summer jobs at the mine. Eddie got to be fireboss and that's what he was doing when the mine closed.

>When I came to Canmore, there were quite a few Finns living and working here. There even was a Finn Hall where we had dinners and dances. Now there is nothing left, everything is gone now.

When I first came to Canmore, I was planning to get enough money to move back to the old country. But I didn't make it until 1961 and 1971 when we went back for a visit. It's a nice country but it is not home.

I work in the garden and I like to do a lot of fishing at Lake Minnewanka, the Spray Lakes and in the Bow River. I think all Finns love fish.