Those Were the Days
From time to time, my job gets me invited to some rather nice events.
For example, I popped up to western Nunavut for a beautiful day last August to attend the opening ceremony of Tahera’s Jericho diamond mine. I even got to shake the hand of Canada’s prime minister on that occasion. Get the scoop on the Jericho mine on p.13.
I was a celebrity for a day in mid-January, attending the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame dinner as a guest at the head table! The seating plan placed me nearby an interesting gent I don’t normally dine with: Sean Boyd (CEO of Agnico-Eagle Mines). Thanks to Jack McOuat for giving this lowly journalist a moment in the sun.
But the nicest invitation that has come my way recently is from a friend from the past, Gord Davidson ([email protected]). Gord is organizing a reunion for former Canadian employees of Urangesellschaft, the large German uranium exploration company commonly known as “UG”. Our kids could tell you that, when my eyes glaze over and I get into the “Once-when-I-was-on-a-fly-camp…” story-telling mode, the tales often date from the two summers and a fall that I spent working for UG, exploring for uranium in Canada’s Barrenlands and Arizona.
If you like uranium, you would have loved the late 1970s, because UG was just one of many major companies fielding large crews all over the world. I wasn’t so keen on the radioactive metal myself (I considered my scintillometer more useful for telling me the places to avoid than the rocks to find), but it was virtually the only game in town, and I was a recent graduate in need of fieldwork, as were most of us.
As Gord says, “To me, the years spent with Urangesellschaft were probably the most gratifying and enjoyable years in my career.” I would extend that slightly to say that the fieldwork I did over a period of six years in my twenties encompassed my best work: physical labour; gorgeous, unspoiled vistas; a daily need to solve bizarre problems; and mostly the cast of interesting characters who formed my whole world for a few months at a stretch. Those characters and stories are what protect me today from being an ordinary office drone and hockey mom.
Of course, we geologists didn’t know then that work life would soon become such a tenuous affair. We’ll be an older, wiser group at the UG reunion during the upcoming PDAC convention, but hopefully still interesting. Spending a few hours with friends whom I first met in the bush is what keeps me going back to the PDAC convention every year.
… speaking of which, you can read all about the PDAC’s diamond anniversary this year in an article (p.23) by former UG bushrat George Werniuk.