Saturday, June 26, 2010

Looking Around Town

The statue of the "King Miner" greets you as you drive into Thompson. A lot about this town is a celebration of nickel mining, the main source of community income and a huge revenue source for the Province of Manitoba. A big event every year in Thompson is the "Nickel Days" festivities - and I missed them by a week. Apart from a lot of other events, the King Miner Contest is quite popular. Miners from all over Western Canada and the north come to compete in traditional mine jobs such as jack-leg drilling (you can see the block at left which they drilled into) stoper drilling (drilling upward - see next photo) crib building, ladder climbing, hand mucking (shovelling sand into a small mine car) power mucking (using a mucking machine to drag ore toward a chute) and similar events. I'd like to see wiring and blasting a big boulder in there, but I don't think the idea would pass. The bits and pieces from the contest are left in the field next to the arena, and boulders full of drill holes (they used to use real boulders instead of concrete) are to be found all over. As I mentioned before, there are murals painted on many buildings which celebrate the aboriginal past, the wildlife to be found here, and the history of mining in the area.
Mining as a profession is a lot more respectful than it used to be; I can remember our parents threatening us - "If you don't work hard at school you will end up working in the mines!" The irony is that two of the Schmidt boys did actually work in the mines...

These days you need Grade 12 education to get even a beginner's job underground. Times sure have changed, but the job has changed too. Miners now use a lot of sophisticated equipment. After tomorrow's underground visit I can tell you more.

1 comment:

  1. As I recall, the threat for doing poorly at school was being a garbage man :-)