With no permanent employment available at the elementary school and the temporary work with the Forest Service over, reality set in and I knew I had better try to find some kind of regular employment. That day I had an appointment at Village Esso to get my snow tires put on the Scout, and after dropping it off, I drummed up my courage to do some job hunting.
I walked down to the end of Main Street to the CN (the Canadian National Railroad) Station to check out the chances of working on the railroad, which employed a lot of local residents, but couldn’t find the CN Roadmaster, who did the employing, so that ended up being an unproductive trip. With that “no go,” under my belt, I decided to try my luck at the Far West Cedar mill, so I strolled to the edge of town, over the railroad tracks, to their large mill yard; piled full of cedar logs at one end and stacks of the decorative split cedar fences that had been produce and bundled, at the other.
I found the foreman of the outfit in a trailer and made my inquiry. He was very eager to have me and hired me on the spot, wanting to put me to work immediately. After I explained I really wasn’t wearing work clothes and that I had left the Scout at the garage, the foreman took me out to his pickup truck and drove me home so I could get into some work clothes. He then drove me back at the mill, where I was put to work manhandling 6 foot long fence posts, and using a machine to bevel their ends, before stacking them in a bin.
The next day, my first day as a millworker, was also Halloween. I had to get up at 6:30 so I could be at Far West at 7:00. The mill building was a vert huge T-shaped metal quonset hut that was pretty much open on all three ends. There were some large sliding doors on the end where I worked, but they were generally left wide open, so obviously the building wasn’t heated and the workers had to dress accordingly. I did wonder what it was going to be like during the cold winter.
I was put to work on a machine that drilled five inch elongated holes in the fences posts, which held the split cedar rails. My task was to grab a split cedar post, lay it on the drill table, then pull a lever that lowered the units of three drills down through the post. Then I had to lift the post from the drill table, and put it into a large steel cradle that held them until it was stacked full. Once the bin was full, I had to climb up on top of it and bind the bundle of fence posts with a steel ribbon.
Lugging the cedar fence posts around was very physical work, especially the 3-hole posts which are 6’6” long. For my forty hours of work I get a paycheck of $535. I would sometimes drill 560 posts a day and bundle them into 7 lifts.
In the photo below , on the left side you can see the ends of the cedar fence posts, stacked in a bine. It was my job to man-handle and drill holes in them.
Tomorrow I will blog about the dangerous jobs at Far West.
View my paintings at davidmarchant2.ca