Archive for July, 2007

littlepatti, the miner’s daughter

July 7, 2007

Elmer and Family 1947/48

If you have read the “Mining Towns In Canada” blog, you have been introduced to one family who lived in several of them from 1936 to 1963.

A family’s life is a tapestry, woven in different colours and textures. The picture that emerges holds hints of success and of failure, bold statements of courage and perseverance and more important, the reflection of respect and love that binds the fabric of a family together through their history.

Best regards,

Patricia aka-littlepatti

Mary, the miner’s wife

July 6, 2007
Mary 1936

Mary 1936

Mary married Elmer in 1936 and moved to Central Patricia Gold Mines in Northern Ontario. That must have been cultural shock in the true sense of the word. She was a city girl accustomed to some luxury and certainly all the necessities, but she liked it there and always said that the cold dry air in winter and windy dry air in summer cured her of a chronic sinus problem that had plagued her most of her life. She was ready to start a family but suffered a miscarriage in the early years and had to undergo a surgical procedure and certain discomfort to conceive and carry her children. She managed to have three. Mary was only 98 pounds, barely 5 ft tall and she and Elmer (who was over 6 ft. tall) were a beautiful sight as they waltzed to music from “Tales from the Vienna Woods”.

Mary was a true pioneer. She adapted to the harsh living conditions and hardly complained that she never saw her family from one year to another. I wonder what her Mother Julia thought of all this moving around as their family had immigrated to Canada from Europe in the early 1900’s and had worked hard to put down their roots. Mary was one of 13 children born in Canada and when we review the family history, we realize that all the women were very strong and determined. We all wish that we had an opportunity to know Julia better. Mary was much like her-the apple doesn’t fall far…

Mary loved to sing and was quite proud of her soprano voice. She learned to play the accordion in her 30’s and even later, the organ. She was proof positive that we can all achieve our fond desires.
I can never remember hearing her say a bad word about anyone. When we were teenagers, we would try to goad her into a little gossiping but she always said “I can’t say a word about anyone’s children, I’m raising three and I don’t know what can happen in their lives”.

I don’t remember Mary saying “I love you”, and we never needed to be assured.

We just grew up. We didn’t need to go out and find ourselves, we made that discovery at home with parents who never, ever criticized our efforts.

When my daughter was 17, she commented that she “could never be as good a Mommy as I was to her”. I said “then, you can’t have children”. She was surprised at that until I explained that every generation MUST improve, be better parents than theirs were, and that was the goal.

I am pleased to report that my daughter has been a much better Mother to her daughter than I was. That’s why I am proud to say “my Grand Daughter is just perfect”.

Mary and Julia would surely agree.

ELMER, the miner and the man

July 6, 2007


Elmer was a miner. If he had “selected” a career he may have been a poet, a writer or a carpenter. But it was the 1930’s and he chose between being a Lumber Jack or a Miner. He probably liked the excitement of mining camps rather than the solitude of lumber camps. He had tried both and settled on mining.

He was right. There was never a dull moment: He was underground, exploring and developing a world that was largely unknown to most people. They could not have known how their way of life was influenced by the gold and other metals coming out of the ground. The danger- In those days, gold miners took canaries underground. When the canaries stopped singing, they got out. Fast! The canaries would detect gas and an explosion was imminent.

Once a shaft was sunk, a mine took on a routine much like any other job. Then it was time to move on to another new mine site and get it into operation.

Elmer the explorer. Elmer the traveller. Elmer the philosopher… He was an interesting fellow. He would use expressions like “the thin edge of the wedge” and “old pot licker”. He was always trying to figure something out- How to build a 9 kid bob-sled, a doll house with wall to wall shag, a picnic table, or an easy way to use a slide rule, even how to teach a dog to dive. He enjoyed great success with his work and some of his his hobbies and limited success with others. His humour carried him through his failings. He was the first one to admit that he could have been a better husband for the 1st 25 years of his marriage, but he took full credit for rearing three “perfect” children. No one in the family argued on either score!

He was only too happy to share what he had learned the hard way. Naturally, his children took his advice all too late and ended up having to learn their lessons the hard way too, but at least they could attribute their eventual success to something Elmer had said or done.

He set the best example of all by being human.

Mary & Elmer