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> Issue 41 > Page 4 - Dan Alex MacLeod: a Working Life

Page 4 - Dan Alex MacLeod: a Working Life

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1986/1/1 (338 reads)

er afraid to try anything. To take that step where you make success. When I started in the lumber business, I had just enough money to pay for 6 pulp sawblades. I and my brother-in-law went to the woods. The first day, we cut 108 logs and yarded them in a pile, where we were going to put the mill. I was cutting them and he was sawing them. That was set, then. We cut 108 logs every day we went to work, landed them at the yard. We had pretty near 3000 logs out, Then we went and got a loan and got a mill. Bought a truck, a ton Chev. Wasn't very big. But then after I started on my own, I got a big 3-ton Far? go. $1285. That's all it cost then. They cost about $16,000 now, or more. (I'm not surprised to see you cutting wood, or trying to make a go of a lumber busi? ness. That was often part of farming in Cape Breton. But mining....) Well, mining came easy. Well, it's not me, but all the fellows around here, they were drilling, and doing the same thing as I was. See, you went in down there as a helper. I was 3 weeks helping. The fellow that was on the machine, he took a vacation, went to Quebec, and I got his machine. When he came back, they gave him another machine and I stayed. (That was the training you got.) I figured at the end of 3 weeks, I could drill a lot better than he could. My impression, you know. So I must have been all right when they left the machine with me; they must have been satisfied. (And the house-moving we talked about in Issue 35--you had no experience before?) No. (And you raised sheep.) Well, there were sheep on the farm where I was brought up, all the time. I always had sheep, only the 10 years I was away at Terra Nova. Min? ute we came back here, we bought sheep. (I saw your letter to the newspaper. You're really not too happy with the marketing board.) No sir. (You don't feel that's go? ing to produce a better product?) No. Well all right--you've got some drag in the gov? ernment, eh? You'll be appointed inspector. You're going to come down here and inspect my sheep. I've been raising sheep since I was a kid. What do you know about sheep? Nothing. Or if he inspects my sheep. How is he going to produce a better product than I'm producing? I'm selling lambs for the last years back. Everybody I sell lambs to, they come back and buy them a- gain. Well, if there was something wrong with them, they wouldn't come, would they? This inspection business is for the birds. If somebody is there with a poor class of lambs, he'll come along and--a hundred dol- lars--his lambs are passed, like a bottle of rum or something. That's how the world is usually run today. Anything the govern? ment gets into, it's never run right as far as I'm concerned. Now, this marketing board is for just a few fellows that's got quite a few lambs, and trying to get the little fellow out, kick him out, see. That's what it is. In 1925 I bought a new truck for $910, brand spanking new. I started hauling from Fourchu. I also had seats--and very few people had cars then, there were few cars even in Sydney at that time, very few. Even the trucks that were there-, it would be carbon lights that were on them, and solid tires, chain drive. 1925. That was my first job in the mine, hauling up from Fourchu with a truck. Gas, or anything they needed in the mine. It was coming in to Fourchu by boat. Supplies, eatables, nails, or anything they needed there. There was no mill there then. They were just sinking the shaft, and putting drifts in. (So you were servicing that opera? tion.) To a certain extent. They had their own truck, too. If you weren't hauling from Fourchu you were doing something else. You were out after lumber to a mill, or moving stuff in the mine from here to there, stuff like that. And then it stopped for awhile there, and I went to work in Sydney. It just stopped for a year, I think. And it started, but I was at a j ob in Sydney. I was working on the coal plant, working for the coal com? pany. Shovelling coal. The boss went in, and a cousin of mine, to see if I'd come back to work (at Stirling Mine). So, "How long will you guarantee me a job?" "Oh, we can't guarantee you a job." "Well, I'd be foolish quitting here and going there, and perhaps be out of a job the next day." So anyway, we were dumping coal in the coal bank. I worked there all winter. Then out of 175 people, I was one of the 5 that were picked out to work all summer. And then that fall, we started dumping coal a- gain. I and another fellow--oh, a great worker--we got a car of screened coal, 16 screen coal--that's long lumps like this-- they were jamming in the car. And it had snowed in the morning, soft snow, and we were trying to get this car out. Anyway, the boss used to walk on top of the car. I thought I and the boss were great friends. There was steam coming out of under our oilskins, we were working that hard. 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