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Former Wabush man makes it ‘home’ for Christmas

Grant Hiscock poses for a photo with MP Judy Foote in 2012.

By GRANT HISCOCK

It was 1959 and the Newfoundlanders (myself included) were wondering how we were going to get home for Christmas.

We were all working at the Wabush Project, later to be known as the Carol Project, and, still later, Labrador City. Our only communication with the outside world, other than weekly Canada Post mail, was a single-engine Beaver aircraft and a two-way radio.

The United Steel Workers of America union representative and the Iron Ore Company of Canada administration superintendent had collaborated to organize a plane charter to the island for Christmas and New Year’s.

Eastern Provincial Airways would use one of their DC3s, which held 24 passengers, to fly one lot home at Christmas and another 24 at New Year’s at a cost of $100 per person, for a total of $4,800 for the complete project.

However, a week before the first departure, which would have been Dec. 18, the union rep took ill and had to be air-vacced to hospital in Montreal, leaving the whole project in jeopardy. The administration superintendent approached me and asked if I would take over the job of collections and organizing the flights. Since I was one of those involved, I agreed to do so.

On Dec. 18, 24 employees of the Iron Ore Company of Canada boarded a charter for Stephenville, Gander and St. John’s, returning on Dec. 28 and to be replaced by another 24 for the same destinations, returning on Jan. 7 without the loss of a single soul. Thus, ensuring a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 48 anxious Newfoundlanders.

It was all the more satisfying to me as my wife had just recently given birth to our first daughter, Joy, who I had not seen since she was born.

As a memento of the occasion, Eastern Provincial Airways presented me with a set of black onyx cufflinks and tie bar, which I cherish to this day.

It was the first private charter into Labrador City.

Reprinted from the Dec. 12, 2012 edition of The Georgian

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