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By virtue of a sense of adventure and the desire to seek out a life that provides a good place to call home and a job that will give the pay and security that will give a good life, many young folks gravitated to Labrador West.
This has been as it has turned out, the right recipe for us to have the great life stories of the folks among us who have become the pioneers of Labrador West that are among us. There is no better example of this than Mike Aylward.
Mike arrived in Labrador West at age 18 from Knights Cove, Bonavista Bay. He had a sister already living in Labrador West. He purchased a $74 plane ticket and took a leap of faith to come stay with her and see what possibilities Labrador West might hold for him.
He found a job right away at Ayres Clothing Store in Wabush that he had for three weeks. He went early every morning for a full week to Wabush Mines asking for a job. His persistence resulted in a job at the mine in the cafeteria.
Mike’s wife Louise, who was a teacher, arrived a short time later and their life together in Labrador West began. Life was good and they had two children, a daughter and a son.
Their family and their community grew together. The community was full of young people and families that were all pulling on the rope together to build their families and their community. It was a time of optimism and hope for success that everyone was engaged in.
Mike was quick to say that in spite of the isolation that goes with the North, it was a community that had really good schools for the youngsters and a community that provided a safe environment for everyone.
Labrador West provided a great place to raise their kids and a great social network for all to enjoy as much as they wanted to. Social gatherings including great meals and great times were the norm.
Cross-country skiing, and the rec centre with swimming and bowling were an integral part of the Aylward family activities. Fishing trips and all of the adventures they held were a part of their lives. Many trips to the Esker Road and the Orma Lake Road holds many memories of some great fishing adventures in the wilds of Labrador.
After 37 years at Wabush Mines working in the cafeteria, mill, lab and with equipment, Mike retired in 2003. After a lifetime in Wabush and at the mine, Mike and Louise have been blessed with two grandchildren. They have given back to their community all of these years, as the community has given to them, through their hard work and commitment to their family and community.
As always, the same last question, any regrets in having the stars line up to have given you your life in Labrador West. Mike’s answer was immediate, not one, it has been a safe place to live and raise a family. It has provided them with a living that has seen them not want for anything and a community and people who have always been there through the years. Who could ask for anything more?
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