Thursday, June 10, 2010

Just Call it Research

I'm going on a trip.
You can call it research.
I've just finished a novel based on 30 year-old memories, and I'm beginning to wonder if those memories are accurate or not. It's not too late to make some adjustments...

When I was nineteen I took the train to the cold blue of northern Manitoba and worked underground for INCO Ltd. The money was excellent for a single guy in the early 70's - over $5.00 an hour! A few years later I returned and worked underground again (now for $7.00 an hour). Great wages for a university student. The biggest bonus for me was the chance to absorb all the sights, sounds, and smells of the mine. Since I worked 'graveyard shift' there was opportunity to explore the mine during 4:00 AM lunch breaks. I climbed manways, entered stopes and stations and explored old drifts. In the lowest levels the rock was warm with geothermal heat. In the upper levels the cool damp of permafrost inched its way through the rock and cooled everything... some of the older men told excellent stories of mysterious accidents, gruesome deaths and disappearances.
Ah! the perfect literary setting!
Recently a friend invited me to join him and some friends on a motorcycle trip through the Smoky Mountains in Northeastern USA in mid-June. Ken and I rode our ten-speeds through Holland, Belgium, and France when I was in my teens and nowadays we both ride more powerful two-wheeled vehicles. I had never been able to join them before, but I realized that the same unexpected events which left Shirley and me with some extra money and some time on my hands would allow me perhaps one bike trip or one nostalgic research trip, but alas, not both.

So with Shirley's blessing, I am flying and taking the train back north. A contact there promised to get me back underground. While I am there I will do an author visit in one of the schools. With my laptop I hope to write much and revise some of my novel. Even better would be a chance to connect with miners whose fathers worked the older mines in our east and west coasts; those unheralded mine historians who can recall and correctly describe the old collected folk tales about mining. I think Canada needs a book on mining folklore, don't you?
The Via Rail tickets are bought and Calm Air has been booked.
Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment