Life Decisions

A simple act followed by a statement can be life-changing. Such was the case for Kaarlo.

Several  years of study at Michigan College of Mines in Houghton, Michigan had prepared Kaarlo, a young Finnish boy from Ashtabula, Ohio  for a career in the mining industry. He had worked as a cook on the ore boats on the Great Lakes and knew he wanted something more fulfilling, much as he loved sailing the lakes.

In 1928 he graduated with a degree in Mining  Engineering. There was a job waiting for him at  Royal Tiger Gold Mines in Breckenridge, Colorado. He packed his Model T Ford and set out for the west with high hopes and dreams of creating a good life, doing something he truly enjoyed.

It wasn’t long after arriving at the mines that he found the owner-manager tampering with the assays (the device used to measure gold). Once the owner realized that the young man was aware of his actions, he ordered him to be “out of town by sundown!”.  Kaarlo didn’t back down and stated that he would leave as soon as he could get his car on a railroad car to carry it  over the mountains.

Dreams of working in the gold mines were crushed. Being young and a go-getter,  he immediately contacted the College to see if they knew of any openings for newly graduated engineers. They responded that there were openings in Canada in the nickel mines in Copper Cliff, Ontario.  It was time to head north.

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                                    The Big Nickel in CopperCliff, Ontario,  now part of Greater Sudbury

Kaarlo Victor Lindell crossed in to Canada on the 31st of January 1929 at Bridgeburg, Ontario1 with hopes and dreams of a rewarding career and a new challenge. He found a room in a boarding house and began working for the  International Nickel  Company(INCO) and never looked back. He spoke Finnish and soon made friends with his coworkers, among them many Finns. His employer took advantage of his knowledge of Finnish and in 1934 was sent to Northern Finland where he was actively involved in opening a nickel mine in Petsamo. In 1939 that part of Finland was seized by the Russians.

Along the way he met a pert, pretty, vivacious young lady, named Estelle (Esty) and sought her hand. They were married on September 6th 1930 in Sudbury. In the meantime Kaarlo had legally changed his name to Karl and took religious instruction in the Catholic faith having been a Lutheran all his life.

In 1939 with WW11 on the horizon Karl wanted to serve his new country. He became a naturalized citizen on the 8th of August 19392, however, with four children and a fifth on the way,  (me) his services were needed in the nickel  industry. He remained at work for INCO. Nickel production was crucial for ammunition during the war years.

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Royal Tiger Gold Mines thrived from 1918 and into the 1930s, however, it declared bankruptcy in 1938 and in 1973 the town and all the buildings in it were torched to keep the “hippies” from squatting.

Northern Ontario, on the other hand has over time developed  and prospered.

It is interesting to speculate how Kaarlo’s life might have been, especially  if he had stayed in Colorado?

 

I would not be here to tell the story!

 

About Claire Lindell

Claire Lindell is a retired school teacher with an interest in French-Canadian and Finnish genealogy.

Posted on October 16, 2014, in Ontario, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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