Labrador West Pi­o­neer: Fay Aber­crom­bie

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - BY GARY SHAW

Labrador West has with­out any doubt a won­der­ful cross sec­tion of folks who are clearly el­i­gi­ble to be in­cluded in any con­ver­sa­tion that would be rec­og­niz­ing our long and sto­ried list of Pi­o­neers.

There is no one who qual­i­fies as a Labrador West Pi­o­neer, a Wabush Pi­o­neer, more than Fay Aber­crom­bie.

She lives on her own in Wabush. Faye is in her 80th year and has a mem­ory that would eas­ily over­shadow many folks half her age.

Fay was born in Que­bec and came from a fam­ily whose dad worked as a forestry en­gi­neer and found them­selves mov­ing on the av­er­age ev­ery five years or so. When she was 22 years old she moved from Tren­ton, Ont., with three chil­dren in tow to be with her hus­band in Wabush, in Oc­to­ber of 1961. Her hus­band Richard had come to Wabush as an ex­plo­ration rock driller a few months ear­lier for an op­por­tu­nity for steady work.

When she ar­rived at the air­port with the chil­dren, the only road only went from the air­port to the Wabush mine site where there were 15 trail­ers set up for work­ers and their fam­i­lies for ac­com­mo­da­tions as the work­ers per­formed the pre­lim­i­nary work to de­ter­mine if there was enough ore in the ground to ac­tu­ally push the green light on a fully op­er­a­tional mine. As it turned out, there was, and as the old say­ing goes, for the Aber­crom­bie fam­ily, the rest was his­tory.

The 15 fam­i­lies had ac­com­mo­da­tion’s in their trailer on the mine site, and they picked up their gro­ceries at the cafe­te­ria where the rest of the work­ers who were stay­ing in the bunk houses had their meals, that was at the present day site of Fitz’s store.

Slowly but surely, a work­ing camp­site was turn­ing into a town. Streets were con­structed, homes were con­structed and be­fore long Wabush be­came a town.

Fay was quick to say it be­came a great lit­tle town, a closeknit com­mu­nity that was full of pride. The chil­dren all went to school to­gether, younger ones and older ones all to­gether. When they got the Rec Cen­tre built it was home for Sun­day school for all the kids no mat­ter the de­nom­i­na­tion. There was yet to be any churches con­structed — they came later.

For the adults, they only had each other, a tight-knit group of folks who worked to­gether and so­cial­ized to­gether. She em­pha­sized the fact that it was a com­mu­nity of all the folks who were joined to­gether and sup­ported each other as one.

Fay spoke with pride as she de­scribed how the com­mu­nity grew and with the pas­sage of a bit of time, and hard work, they had it all. Progress and the growth that came with it, saw a new Do­min­ion Gro­cery Store, a phar­macy ran by Joe Dicks, a doc­tor’s of­fice with Dr. McCarthy at­tend­ing, and with the new streets, a taxi ran by Manuel Dove and a town po­lice­man, Steve Arse­nault. Fay not only smiled with pride but said that they had ev­ery­thing that any­one would need.

Fay and Richard added a fourth child to their fam­ily 10 years af­ter their ar­rival in Wabush. They lived their lives work­ing away and rais­ing their fam­ily in Wabush for all of these years.

Fay has a col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs on the walls of her home, which she has been alone in, since the pass­ing of Richard in 1999. The pho­to­graphs that she has on her walls are her great­est pride and joy. They con­tain her fam­ily that in­cludes her and Richard’s four chil­dren, nine grand­chil­dren and four great-grand­chil­dren, with No. 5 on the way.

As al­ways, the ques­tion comes up, any re­grets in find­ing your­self as a true Wabush Pi­o­neer? She only laughed.

“Not a sin­gle one, it has been a won­der­ful place to raise our chil­dren, only some snow and cold and some ex­tra flies in the sum­mer to man­age, a lot bet­ter than many places in the world,” she said. “We as a fam­ily and as a com­mu­nity al­ways felt safe and al­ways had each other to count on when we needed a hand, who could ask for more.

Fay Aber­crom­bie rep­re­sents the pi­o­neer spirit in Labrador West.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.