Loen Dyrgas - Former Undergroung Mechanic

Oh yeah, I look back. I can sit there and I can picture walking up the hill from the washhouse, going across the tracks and going past the lamphouse and going to the shop.

You know, when the mine shut down, I never thought about collecting any souvenirs. It was afternoon shift that day: they said, Go down to the washhouse and get your personal stuff and get out. The next day we just started looking for another job. It never dawned on me to take pictures or anything from the mine.

I was born in 1938 here in Canmore. My father was a coal miner all his life. I think I was seventeen and I was in Grade 12 at school but I had to go out and work because we were a large family. Ten of us and we didn't have enough money.

When I first started, I worked outside loading boxcars. After three years, one of the bosses suggested I should learn a trade. He finally talked me into it. I spoke with Atillio Caffaro and he said, Sure, we'll send you to school. That was in 1962. I took the welding apprenticeship at Tech in Calgary from 1962 to 1965. While I was at Tech, I stayed in Calgary with family. I'd come home on the weekend and usually work in the mine. On weekends, I was also a bartender at the Legion. In 1965, I got my ticket and after that, I welded in the shop and did mechanical work underground.

When the mine shut down, I was disappointed. I think we all were.The whole town was shocked.There was talk at the end that the mine was going to close and that Dillingham was more interested in land development than mining coal. The mine closed July 12, 1979. Three weeks later, I got a job as a welder at Lafarge in Exshaw. I am still there but I am in the process of retiring.

We bought this house from the mine and moved it here. It cost $2,500 plus $500 for the lot. That was in 1967. There was a beautiful forest behind us and we sure were upset when they recently started building those big houses behind us.