Life Changing Events

A simple act followed by a direct command can be life changing.

Such was the case for my Dad. At the outset of his working life, my father’s new challenges of a career in the gold mines of Colorado were dashed through no fault of his. In some ways it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened. It launched his career in the mining industry and he travelled to mines around the world. Would he have been so fortunate in Colorado?

Kaarlo Victor Lindell was born in the early winter of 1905 in Ashtabula, Ohio, a port on Lake Erie, not far from Cleveland. He was the second child of Ida Susanna Karhu and Johan Hjalmar Lindell, a blacksmith. They had immigrated to the United States from Finland in the mid-1890s.

As a young man, my father worked as a cook on the iron-ore boats on the Great Lakes and, although he loved sailing the lakes, he wanted something more fulfilling. He enrolled at the Michigan College of Mines in Houghton, graduating with a degree in Mining Engineering in 1928. Many years later, in 1972, he gave the Commencement Address to the graduating students at the Michigan Technological University, as the College is now a university. At that event he received a Doctor of Engineering and the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

After graduation In 1928 he received a job opportunity at Royal Tiger Gold Mines in Breckenridge, Colorado. He packed his Model T Ford and set out for the west with hopes and dreams, doing something he truly enjoyed. He was a young man ” going west”.

Not long after arriving at the mines, he discovered that the owner-manager was tampering with the assays (a scale used to measure gold). When the owner realized that his new employee was aware of his actions, he ordered him “out of town by sundown.”  Kaarlo didn’t back down and said that he would leave, “as soon as I can get my Model T on a railroad car to carry it over the mountains”.

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

Kaarlo  crossed into Canada on the 31st of January 1929 at Bridgeburg, Ontario 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) in Copper Cliff and Frood Mine. He spoke Finnish and soon made friends with his coworkers, among them many Finns.

Before long he met a pretty, vivacious young lady named Estelle (Esty) Jodouin and wasted no time seeking her hand. They were married on September 6tth, 1930, in Sudbury. While Grandpa Jodouin was happy to have Dad as a son-in-law, he was concerned that he practised the Lutheran faith.  In the meantime, Kaarlo legally changed his name to Karl and had started studying the Catholic faith.

His employer took advantage of his knowledge of Finnish and in 1934 Karl was seconded to Mond Nickel of England and sent to Petsamo, Lapland, in northern Finland, near the Russian border, close to the Barents Sea. Dad’s task was to open a new nickel mine in the area.

In 1939 Petsamo, now Pechanga, was seized by Russia and consequently closed off Finland’smain access to northern waters.

Finnish Inn 1934

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

After working for seventeen years with INCO, it was time for a change. The Canadian Johns-Manville Company (CJM) had sought his expertise and hired him to design and oversee the construction of a headframe and shaft for underground mining in Asbestos, Quebec.

In November 1945, the family moved to the rolling hills of the Eastern Townships of Quebec where a new chapter would enfold.

Finland is a country of lakes and saunas.

It is presently rated (2023) as the happiest country in the world.

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