Roy Beiger, Retired Coal Miner, Canmore, AB

I was born in Austria in 1902, in a place that later became part of Hungary. When I arrived in Canada in 1921, I started mining coal at the Midland Mine near Drumheller.

When I first came here, it wasn't easy like now.You could get no damn job. The day I applied for a job, there were about fifty men standing in line and I was about a hundred feet away from the office. The pitboss came out and said, You come here, you big blond guy, come here. I said, Me? He only picked me because I was a big guy.

So I went into the office and he said,You want a job? and asked me what I'd like. I said, Dig coal, and he said, You can't dig coal now, but you can do company work.

So he gets me to pack timber. Son-of-a bitch, I packed timber for two years, then I went on the coal. That packing timber was harder than digging coal. And you know, when I first started mining, I had to hand-bore everything, including using a breast auger. I tell you, that was slavery.

They laid me off because I was sixty-five, and that's the law. But I would go tomorrow to dig coal if I could, son-of-a-bitch. I sure liked that mine! That's it. That's the life for me! I'll tell you, it didn't matter how bad it was because I wasn't afraid of danger.

All the men who worked with me are in the graveyard by the hoodoos - all except me. I was a big strong man, which is why I've lived so long. I stopped counting my age at sixty-five and now I've forgotten all about it.