In 1945 our family moved to Asbestos, Quebec. Dad, a mining engineer was hired to design and oversee the construction of a shaft. The company was planning to mine underground.
My older sister, Ruth had to learn French and the same for brothers John and Karl. For them it was a difficult transition. My younger brother, Paul and I, were young enough that we learned the language easily and took it in stride.
As children we used to play Tic-Tac-Toe on the cars parked near the Main Office which was not far from our home. In those days, all the cars were black! It was like having our own little blackboards.
Our home was also extremely close, perhaps 500 yards from the open pit. Our house would shake when they blasted several times daily. Sirens could be heard all over town at blasting time. It did not take us long to get accustomed to them. When the Second World War ended it seemed like the sirens were never going to stop. That is one of my first memories of living in Asbestos.
During the past year I have written and published these stories about my hometown, Asbestos.
Recently the town of Asbestos entered a new era. Over the years there has been a constant demand to change the name of the town. “Asbestos’ is a known carcinogen that causes various lung diseases. Businesses, particularly English companies, did not wish to be associated with name ‘asbestos’, while in the French language the product asbestos fibre is referred to as ‘amiante’ and does not create a similar problem. However, the citizens of the town were aiming at creating a new direction for their community.
Several names were suggested: “to vote in a ranked-choice referendum among six options: L’Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix, Trois-Lacs and Val-des-Sources. Val-des-Sources won 51.5 per cent on the vote”.1. in recognition of the Nicolet River and Three Lakes nearby that had already been incorporated with the town.
One of the choices was Jeffrey which would have been my choice. The open pit was named Jeffrey Mine. It helped make Canada one the world’s leaders in asbestos exports. The Jeffrey mine, once Canada’s largest, closed in 2012.2’
The Provincial Government, Toponyme committee and the Municipal Affairs and Housing accepted the new name in December 2020.
Having spent so many years living there, in my heart of hearts, it will always be Asbestos. Most of the places I frequented while growing up are no longer there. The church where I was confirmed, the elementary school, the commercial district, our house, all have disappeared.
Much of the town as I knew it has been absorbed by the pit. However, the golf course is far enough away and there will not be anymore changes to the pit except for those who will be able to enjoy slacklining.
Slacklining refers to the act of walking, running or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors. Slacklining is similar to slack rope walking and tightrope walking. Slacklines differ from tightwires and tightropes in the type of material used and the amount of tension applied during use. Slacklines are tensioned significantly less than tightropes or tightwires in order to create a dynamic line which will stretch and bounce like a long and narrow trampoline. Wikipedia.