Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Workday Wednesday: The Pipeline Accident

You are born, grow to adulthood, work at a job you like, marry, have a family, and you think, “Life’s good.”

But, life has a way of taking unexpected turns.

My father experienced such a turn. Thirty-four years ago today, his life changed dramatically.

Dad was a welder, since about 1952. He didn’t start out that way, though; it just kind of happened while working for Shaw Construction of Sarnia, Ontario. (To read about how my Dad’s welding career began, see Workday Wednesday: Maurice Belair, Welder.)

In the fall of 1978, Dad worked in Bracebridge, Ontario, about two hours north of Toronto. He often left our hometown in search of work when welding jobs were scarce in Timmins. Mom, my sister, my brother and I missed Dad a lot when he was away, but we looked forward to when he’d come home for a few days.

November 7, 1978 was a typical Tuesday. After supper, Mom got ready to go out to see friends. About 7 pm, the telephone rang. A man wanted to speak to our mother. I don’t know why, but I suddenly felt uneasy about this phone call. Within a few minutes, Mom told us that Dad had been in an accident at work. She called Dad’s sisters to let them know what had happened, and then called one of Dad’s best friends. He immediately offered to drive Mom to Bracebridge. She thanked him and then quickly packed a suitcase. Jack and Mom drove the four or five hours it took to reach the hospital. Dad’s sister Darlene, who lived not too far away in Peterborough, met them there. They found Dad seriously hurt, but in stable condition.

Many years later, after my father’s death, I found something I never knew existed. Among Dad’s personal effects, I noticed a sheet of paper on which he had written a few lines. The graph paper was about 13.5 cm x 21.5 cm (approximately 5 ½ by 8”), with Canron’s company logo in blue ink on it. I was surprised and somewhat shocked when I realized that Dad had written about his 1978 accident.

Maurice Belair's summary of his pipeline accident.
Maurice Belair's summary of his pipeline accident.

With just a few words, Dad explained what happened to him on that fateful day. He was welding in a trench one afternoon when its walls suddenly caved in, burying him alive. His co-worker saved his life by pulling him out to safety. Dad was taken to South Muskoka District Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge. He spent about two weeks there recovering from his injuries. After he came home to his grateful family, Dad continued to recuperate. It was a slow recovery. In time, Dad healed physically, but he wasn’t the same person he was before his accident. By the following spring, Dad didn’t want to go back to work.

After 25 years, Dad chose to quit welding professionally. He also decided to accept his brother’s recent offer of starting a trucking business with him. And so, in the summer of 1979, our family moved to British Columbia, where Uncle Ray, who lived here since the early 1950s, welcomed us.

This time, life didn’t take an unexpected turn; Dad created his own.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

10 comments:

  1. How terrifying for your dad! I don't blame him for wanting to change jobs.

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  2. It really was terrifying, Jana. I thank God that my Dad came back home to us.

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  3. Your dad was a lucky man. Blessings on his coworker!

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Wendy. And a sincere thank you to Dad's co-worker!

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  4. Yvonne, I just wanted to let you know that your blog post is listed on my Fab Finds post today at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2012/11/follow-fridayfab-finds-for-november-9.html

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  5. Work accident compensation might be given if the administration of the company could not give safe working place for the workers that caused them injuries.

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    1. Dad did receive compensation for his accident, but I don't remember how much and how long it lasted. Thanks for commenting, Samuel.

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  6. How scary! I can imagine that your dad would be different after such an incident. I wonder why he wrote such a brief synopsis?

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    1. That's a good question, Heather. I'll never know why my Dad wrote such a brief account, because I found this paper after he passed away. I suspect, though, that he might have written it while still in hospital, and maybe could only deal with just the basic facts.

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