Winter has settled in across Canada. We in Ottawa are enduring the longest cold spell in 10 years. It's in the minu...


Winter has settled in across Canada. We in Ottawa are enduring the longest cold spell in 10 years. It's in the minus 20s and subtract another 15 for wind chill. It's cold all across this spectacular country. That's good for the skiers, snowmobilers and ice fishers. It's okay for the rest of us in our cozy offices.

As I look at the crisp, white snow tossed about by icy blasts, I think of the men and women working outside in this climate. Specifically, the men and women manning exploration drills in remote locations are on my mind. They endure with fortitude and lots of clothing, but working in the severe cold cannot be easy. And at the end of their shifts, they return to camp accommodations that are adequate but nowhere near luxurious.

Why do they do it? Is there something about these people that sets them apart from us less-hardy city dwellers?

Certainly the pay is better than they would get flipping burgers at the local fast food joint. It's probably better than many jobs farther south. It helps to have some cash in your pocket, but money isn't the be-all and end-all.

I suspect drill crews are just as excited as anyone when their work results in finding a potential mine. Surely it's worth bragging about if you were on the drill crew that made the first discovery at Hemlo or Lac de Gras or Voisey's Bay, for instance.

There must also be a special camaraderie among people who work against the elements far from their friends and families. Spending long, dark hours in camp, people can quickly develop friendships that outlast the job. They have to at least tolerate one another, and the stereotypical Canadian politeness can go a long way in that direction.

And perhaps there is a measure of sheer cussedness in a person who pits himself against the worst the Canadian climate has to offer and survives.

Whatever the reason (or combination of reasons) that someone decides to sign on for the hard work at a remote exploration site, that person deserves our thanks and support. Without them deposits would go undiscovered. Without them no new mines could be developed. Without them Canada would be a poorer country for all of us.


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