Saturday, January 12, 2008


Hi Brother

I was browsing through some of your online photographs and my interest was piqued by one that shows you sitting beside the miner statue in Elliot Lake.

Forgive me brother, but the picture begs comment.

It appears that with flagrant disregard for the myth that I, in no small part, have been party to perpetuating; namely that of the Denison employee as the hard driving working man - nothing short of the salt of the earth - you have chosen to have your photo taken next to 'Roger The Miner', who although I had never had the pleasure of knowing, appears to behave like a 'slacker'.

Nothing does less to elevate the image of the Denison worker than 'Roger', sitting on his ass with his lunch box close at hand wearing an expression that can best be described as 'vacant'. In addition, it appears that 'Roger' is clean shaven.

At first blush one might consider the photo as 'life imitating art', however as we both know and I admit (but only this once), it probably really is 'art imitating life'.

There have been occasions, particularly on night shift when as a Denison underground employee, I have slipped into the station a bit early hoping that the cage might also be early and that I would be able to get my card from the shifters wicket and avoid being notice by the night captain before making it into the dry. I no doubt looked a bit like 'Roger' as I huddled in the shadows of that windy station hoping to hear the cagetender's bell.

On the other hand, it could also be myself sitting along side the drift waiting for the Unimog to pick me up. Again, hopefully early.

But it is here, dear Brother that I would depart from the image that poor 'Roger' portrays.

As you will no doubt note, since you have a keen sense of observation as well as an uncanny talent for imitating inert objects, 'Roger' should have his cap lamp draped over his shoulder with the beam turned low. In this way an approaching jeep or worse a supervisor on foot would be hard pressed to spot the burning cigarette. In the later case, it would not likely be anyone above the position of shift boss or leader, since it was well known that Captains or Managers (or Underground Warehouse men?) would never walk unless it was absolutely necessary.

One final note, of possible historic note.The location of the Miners Monument and Memorial was probably planned by a Denison Engineer. I discovered this past weekend that the site is fenced off and closed during the winter months. It seems that poor 'Roger' is sitting in the middle of a very busy winter snow machine trail. So, for a few months of the year, 'Roger' sits there and endures the high pitched screams of Yamaha and Suzuki snow-sleds. Yet, through it all, he seems to maintain that defiant (dare I say Pugnacious?) look that Japanese tourists and homesick native sons like to capture on film.

Since by now we have established that 'Roger' has to be a Denison man, he is probably well-read and has more than just a passing interest in 19 century European history. In the midst of the winter recreational vehicle traffic 'Roger' no doubt thinks of that famous battle cry of that great European military hero Marshal MacMahon who in 1855, finding himself surrounded by superior forces, is said to have shouted "J'y suis.J'y reste!" - "Here I am. And here I stay!".

Did I see 'Roger' smile?

God bless You and your family
and the very best in the coming year
Take care
your brother