1 | Page 2 | Page
3 | Page 4
objectors claimed CO status because they thought war was wrong.
They contributed labour and expertise to many different areas of
Canadian society during the war. Jake Penner, of Gretna, Manitoba,
demonstrated that when he was assigned to Pickle Crow Goldmines
he worked every day deep below the surface of the earth. How deep?
It was deeper underground than the tallest building is above the
ground. The CN Tower in Toronto, the world's tallest building, is
553 metres tall. Jake worked at 579 metres underground. How did
he end up down there?
January 21st, 1943 I got my medical call for checkup, the doctor
said I was O.K. On June 23rd, 1943 I was called to take the stand
before Judge Adamson of Morden in [the] Morden court house. My
younger brother Dave was called with me at the same time. After
much questioning the judge said I'd make a good miner so he sentenced
me to Pickle Crow Goldmines, Ontario.”
was married, so Judge Adamson allowed him to make monthly payments
to the Red Cross instead of leaving his family. Two weeks later,
Jake left home to go to the mines.
was ordered to report to Selective Service in Wpg July 7th, 1943
and left Winnipeg at 7:30 PM by train and arrived at Sioux Lookout,
Ontario 2:30 AM July 8th …. At Sioux Lookout a taxi came and picked
me up from the station and drove me to Caswell's boarding house;
he was also the taxi driver. The hot water system was on the blink
and 5 ½ months later when I returned it still was off.
He never had it fixed. I was to fly into the mines that day but
the plane was full so had to wait till next day. So on the 9th
at about 1:00 PM I took the plane to Pickle Crow Goldmines which
is about 125 miles [200 km] northeast of Sioux Lookout which took
about 1 hr + 25 minutes to make the trip. It was a very hot day
and it was very hot on the plane. We landed at Pickle Lake and
a taxi was waiting for me so I got in and drove about 9 miles
[14 km] inland before we reached the mines.”
did not know anyone at the mine and he did not have any mining experience.
The first thing he had to go was get flu shots from the doctor to
make sure that he did not get sick. Then he began work. Listen to
him tell you what his days at the mine were like.
living quarters were in two storey bunk houses steam heated quite
comfortable. We had breakfast at 7 AM go to the mine 7:30 change
into our work clothes for underground which are hanging in the
dryer and are hung up by ropes strung over a pulley and are hanging
high off the floor. We go down by a steel cage with a cage man
signaling by pulling a ringer making a buzzing sound while a man
in the control room sends the cage to the level where we were
to go. I was tram helper at times, it's like a small train with
tracks and a battery operated motor. We'd drive to the chute and
fill the cars one by one by opening the chute which operated by
air. In the morning we start at 8:00 AM and get out at 4 PM .
Then there's also the night shift that goes down after day shift
is finished. I worked with the drillers and helped them load these
holes with dynamite and they were set off before we left our shift
and the next shift would clean up the loose rocks which is called
mucking which I sometimes also did. The mine is quite cool and
wet and we wear woolen underwear heavy steel toes rubber boots
and hard hats with electric lamp operated by a battery hanging
on your belt. The mine shaft was down to 2200 feet [670 m] but
the levels [where we worked did not begin until] about 1900 feet
[579 m] down.”
miners worried about the mine shaft collapsing, or not being able
to get fresh air, or having something go wrong with the dynamite.
Every person had to be careful. The lives of the other men depended
on it. With their work, they earned their food.
the morning we'd go through the kitchen and pick up our lunch
box which was filled with 4 sandwiches, 1 orange, 1 piece of pie,
1 piece of cake. Sandwiches have cheese, salmon, sardines, ham,
beef and we need only say what we want. Then of course we have
a thermos bottle of hot coffee, tea, or cocoa etc. The meals are
very good with fruit, pie, cookies + desserts, fish every Friday,
meat and just about any thing you could think of.”
his time at the mine was finished, Jake had time to reflect on his
felt very unhappy at being ordered
against my will to go to the mines, but after I returned I knew
God had been with me all the time. In a place like that you find
many drinking, cursing men and it tests your strength as a Christian….
I held no grudge against Judge Adamson for sentencing me, for
my health was better after that experience and I had been drawn
much closer to God and I'm sure I left a good impression to many
although they kidded me at times about my Christian beliefs they
respected me and as friends they were very good. I am sure my
mother's prayers followed me and it was a happy reunion when I
1 | Page 2 | Page
3 | Page 4