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In the beginning of the birth of any new community, it is only a dot on the map. The evolution and success of any community, no matter what it was that brought people to that dot on the map, are the very few special ones who made the difference in the overall wellness and success of the community in so many ways.
We don’t have the visibility looking ahead most times, only the clearer visibility of looking back at remarkable folks who made some incredible contributions.
Dec. 7, 2018 saw the passing of one of our greatest Labrador West Pioneers. Bill Dwyer had a vision for Labrador West that was only exceeded by his energy and drive when he arrived on our dot on the map. That would become his legacy — in a very large way — in the Labrador West we have today.
Bill came from a family of 14 from Bell Island. His interest and drive to immerse himself in the mining sector were a natural fit that he easily picked up from his father, an underground iron ore miner on Bell Island.
In his early 20s Bill went to Knob Lake, which is now Schefferville, to work for the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC). After a short time there he used his education in the engineering field from Memorial University to perform duties in his field in a number of locations across Canada.
In 1964, Bill returned to his roots in the mining sector and his home province, with the IOC on the Carol Lake Project in Labrador City. He and his wife, Trish, and their three children, Wayne, Paula, and Sheryl began what was to be a 25-year life’s journey in Labrador West that ultimately saw Bill’s fingerprints solidly engraved on the mine and the community, fingerprints that still leave their lasting and positive marks to this day.
Bill was a devoted and driven employee at the mine, and began his career as a driller, woe then became a foreman, and then a general foreman. He wasn’t done just yet, and finally spent a majority of his years as the mine superintendent. His career turned out to be a fast track, beginning at the grass roots level, and travelled — through his hard work on the fast track — as one of the major positive fixtures inside the gate.
Bill’s constant commitment to Labrador West was not at all limited to the mine. His devotion to the wellness of our community, and the things that mattered to the community, was endless. He was on the Parish Council at his church, he was the president of the Menihek Nordic Ski Club, and was, in a very large part, responsible for hosting two successful World Cup events. Bill was president of the Tamarack Golf Club and was instrumental in the design and completion of the last nine holes that he envisioned as an absolute necessity.
Bill played on the basketball team that won the All Newfoundland Championship. He played and coached on numerous hockey and softball teams, including the team that he sponsored. Bill and Trish were also avid curlers and were part of the team that went to the Mixed Provincial Championships.
He was always a helping hand at any of the many charity organizations that needed him.
Bill also found time to do some fishing and spend time with family, enjoying a pan of freshly fried speckles as often as he could.
Bill always gave his all to our community of Labrador West through his position at the mine and through his personal commitment to the community at large.
During the “Big Storm” of 1982, Bill travelled the community picking up every person and family that had no heat or hydro, and he didn’t stop until everyone was safe — including the four families he and Trish had stacked in their home.
After Bill’s retirement from IOC, he continued to provide valuable consulting services and logistical support to several major pipeline, trenching, and drilling projects across North America.
When I met with Bill’s brother Don, his niece Danielle, and his co-worker and long-time buddy Gerry Rideout, many stories were shared. It was abundantly clear how Bill’s never-ending desire to give his all to his family, career, and community will give him the well-deserved recognition as a builder and a positive founding father of Labrador West. Bill will not only be remembered for all that he gave, but his legacy continues.
His family members, and those who have followed in his footsteps have, by Bill’s example, continued to carry on with his vision of giving all to our community by their ongoing and positive actions.
Thanks Bill. What an incredible legacy you have left for our entire community of Labrador West.