Labrador West Pioneers: Joe and Patsy Pur­cell

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Front Page - Gary Shaw

As has been the case in most of the Pi­o­neer ar­ti­cles that have ap­peared on these pages, the rea­son for the ar­rival in Labrador by the young folks was ad­ven­ture in their souls. It was for the op­por­tu­nity for good steady work that came with a good pay­ing job.

It was no dif­fer­ent for Joe Pur­cell. He left Har­bour Grace, New­found­land to seek his for­tune. Joe ar­rived in Labrador West in Oc­to­ber of 1965 as a young man. He had at­tended a re­cruit­ment fair in St. John’s and ended up with a job at the Iron Ore Com­pany of Canada (IOC).

It was time for him to have his first plane ride, that didn’t turn out to be the best. The plane ex­pe­ri­enced some me­chan­i­cal prob­lems that forced an un­sched­uled land­ing. He laughed as he told that he re­ceived a $4 meal voucher on the de­lay, all was good, he had it scalded.

When Joe ar­rived in Labrador West to give the min­ing sec­tor a try, lit­tle did he know that it would turn into a 34-year ca­reer with IOC.

Patsy ar­rived in Labrador West from Gan­der at the age of 17 in Au­gust of 1966. She came to stay with her brother and see what was avail­able for work op­por­tu­ni­ties. She wasn’t in Labrador West long un­til she had a job. She went to work at Jub­bers. They had a pop­u­lar snack bar set up there and she was busy work­ing as a cook pre­par­ing meals for the cus­tomers. Who­ever said that the way to a man’s heart was through his stom­ach was right. Joe be­came a more than reg­u­lar cus­tomer at the snack bar. The food must have been good — they were mar­ried in 1967. As was of­ten the case in those days, the rest is his­tory.

Joe stood in line for four hours for the op­por­tu­nity to get a house. They got their house and had to wait and walked by each evening wait­ing for it to be fin­ished. Their home was on Carol Drive and they are still in that same home to­day. Patsy told of the day they moved in. They had two boxes of stuff to their name in­clud­ing a fry­ing pan. They cooked pork chops and sat on the floor to eat them. They de­cided that night that this would be their home.

As was the case in those days, the com­mu­nity was full of young peo­ple with nowhere to go and lit­tle to do. They, like all the rest, worked away, made new friends, made their own fun, and in many cases, had new ba­bies. Joe and Patsy had three chil­dren, one boy and two girls. One child re­mains as an adult in Labrador West, one is in Cor­ner Brook and the third lives in Rock­land, Ont. They also have four grand­chil­dren who are their pride and joy.

They made their own fun like every­one did in those days. The chil­dren had their own friends to so­cial­ize with as did the adults. Dances, bowl­ing, base­ment game nights and darts were reg­u­lar events for all.

They were a busy fam­ily. Skat­ing, hockey, soft­ball, fig­ure skat­ing, and Girl Guides were all on the Pur­cell’s cal­en­dar. Patsy was in­volved with the Girl Guides as a leader and Joe was busy in soft­ball at both the lo­cal and the provin­cial level. They have both been ac­tive in their church as well with Joe be­ing very ac­tive with the Knights of Colum­bus.

The last ques­tion is al­ways the same, any re­grets in their life and times in Labrador West? Two big smiles and an an­swer to­gether — not a one. They said that it was a great place to live. They felt they be­longed to a com­mu­nity where folks cared about each other and were al­ways there to lend a hand. It has been a safe place and a great com­mu­nity to raise kids.

They have cel­e­brated their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary in Labrador West. They have not a sin­gle re­gret in stay­ing. We are all glad they stayed, folks like them have made Labrador West the great place it is.


Joe and Patsy Pur­cell en­joy the Labrador Pi­o­neer life­style.

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