Chibougamau-More about the good, the bad etc…

By 1959- Chibougamau had the signs of being firmly settled as a thriving community- It was still isolated, and pretty wild at times, but there was talk of a road going through to Val d’Or, planes and buses were going in and out on a regular basis as were the transport trucks carrying fruit, vegetables and fresh milk which were always in short supply in the early days. The Hudson’s Bay store was well stocked with dresses, gift items, and guns as well as food. The streets were not paved and the sand stung our faces, ruined our clothes and hair do’es, as the wind whipped through town twenty four hours a day in summer and I won’t even describe the effects of winter!

I don’t remember a tree standing in the town site. I guess it was faster to build the much needed houses without navigating around trees. There were plenty of pine trees surrounding the town and for hundred of miles in every direction, but the town site had been laid bare. Miners were not known for their horticultural skills, mostly because of their transient nature and the climate, they were not likely to plant trees and flowers to “pretty up” their company houses.

There were very few cars in town. We walked everywhere we needed to go and that was usually as unpleasant as could be. My father had a car and I drove it whenever I could. Those were the days when we taught ourselves how to drive. The police would stop me frequently to ask if I had yet obtained my license and I always had an excuse- They were very nice about it, and I never got a ticket…or a license there for that matter.

In the summer of ’59, I worked at the local radio station CHIB, located in a back room of the Sport Shop. Two well known local brothers would come in twice a day to sing O Canada and read the news, sports and weather reports. (The serious stuff). They were forever playing pranks on each other, like setting fire to their news reports as they were reading, and the sound booth often rocked with laughter at the most inappropriate times. Between their on-air times, the station & Sport Shop were in the hands of me and a friend. She and I played music, taped records, read bedtime stories, and gave tips on makeup, cooking, & child care. Child care!! (We were 16!) We were just awful!

One day our boss brought in crates of dirt and put a sign in the window of the Shop “Worms For Sale”, because fishermen/tourists were always asking him to stock worms. He explained how we should scoop them into small cartons for sale. We listened intently, and the moment he was out of sight… “pppffft!” The fishermen would come in and ask for the worms. “Worms? We don’t have any worms!” we would exclaim. The worms all died and our boss was pretty annoyed with those ungrateful fishermen!

In 1961, cable was finally made available and there was TV! Most of us didn’t have a TV set.

In the years that followed, we worked at the mines, married, and started our families. We made life long friends and life long memories. Even though most of us eventually moved on to other towns and other careers, we remained grateful for the experience of living in the great northern Canadian wilderness.

PS, Read more on Chibougamau- May12, June 2, June 4, June 17, 2007

Chibougamau now


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