HARD TIMES

We actually had a thaw this week – 3 days above zero.  It happens sometimes in this country.

Today we’re bracing for a weather change – cold and stormy.  Thermometer has dropped

On our road this morning . . .

 to 14 below zero.  A wind out of the north is gusting to 60 and 80 kilometres per hour.  Our driveway and access road are littered with debris from the trees – bare poplar branches and clusters of needles from spruce and jack pine.  The wind, driving parallel to the ground, sometimes whips up curtains of snow that we call white-outs. 

I interviewed an old-time prospector this morning.  I’m seeking information on drilling holes in a surface outcrop by hand steel – by driving in rods with chisel

An old-time single jack

points using a single jack.  A single jack is a small sledge. A scene in my novel (“The Beardmore Relics”) harks back to the 1920s.  The prospector must put holes in a rock face, fill them with dynamite and caps and powder fuses, and blast a cavity. 

No one today does this sort of thing.  Not even the prospector I talked to this morning.  I have asked advice from hard rock miners, but blasting underground is different altogether.  I am googled out – yes, I got an enormous amount of information from the Internet, but only a fraction of it applied.  I even bought a blaster’s manual.

Drilling with hand steel

Finally, after weeks of searching, a friend referred me to an old-timer who remembers how it was done.  Not 90 years ago.  More like 50 years ago.  When prospectors still used the time-honoured techniques.  So I trust his advice.

Ninety years ago – hell, fifty years ago – it was a hard way to make a living.

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
This entry was posted in KENNET FORBES MYSTERIES, NATURE, WRITING and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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