Ronald MacKinnon, Retired Chief Mine Surveyor, Glace Bay

I was born in 1904 near Sydney. In 1921, I dropped out of school and got a job with the company, carrying mail. I moved on to become office boy and blueprint boy, working around the tables and cleaning up. Then I gradually started working on the tables, drawing and doing odd drafting jobs. In 1932, the company moved our office from Glace Bay to Sydney. Working on the tables meant plotting up the notes from the underground surveyors who sent in their notes each day.

Each day, we used to plot on tracings, bringing them up to date. Once a month, we would plot the rooms. The rooms were all surveyed in. The general program was very accurate: the basic plan was one inch to 200 feet. It was our job to give the bearings to the surveyor to lay out the crosscuts and the rooms. The miners generally followed the lines laid out by the surveyors.

After working on the tables for a long while, I got mixed up with supervision of the underground and surface surveyors. I never did actual surveying even though I became the chief surveyor in the '40s. I would occasionally go down in the pit and show the surveyors how to set up for tricky jobs.

I got very involved in mine planning for the Dominion Coal Company. I looked after 11 mines in Cape Breton, plus the mines in the Springhill area. I never produced any coal but I was responsible for a lot of coal being produced.

I retired the month I was 65. I worked for the company 48 years. I enjoyed it. Particularly, I enjoyed the people I worked with. Some of them I remember as hard people to work with but damn good people to be with. One boss I remember was a terror on the job. If you made a mistake (and we did,) you got hell for it.

I never drank a drop in my life. I avoided drink all my life, although I may have a glass of wine with dinner.