Monday, March 20, 2017

Collective Memory Monday - Joseph Cormier, "The Nipper"

This week, we take a peek into the history of the Newfoundland Railway.

Joseph Cormier of Grand Falls got his first job with the railroad at the age of twelve. Not old enough or strong enough to work with the maintenance crews repairing the tracks, Joseph was given another, just as important job.


B 3-190, The Rooms Provincial Archives

“Oh when I was a youngster I worked on the railroad, I was 12 years old. … I was a nipper, bringing water to the fellows who was working on the rail, you know? I’d have a bucket of water and an old tin dipper, dip down in the water and go around giving drinks to the men, see, who were out.”


Young Joseph, spending so much time around the older railmen, started picking up habits that his mother wouldn’t have approved of.

“I got so far ahead, I got [inaudible] topped boots, you know, and I got to chewing tobacco and smoking, see? And this day I was coming up the road which overlooked the river, about seven miles from my home and I was up with a big chewing tobacco in my mouth coming, walking up the road, see? And next I look and here’s my mother coming to get me. I damn near swallowed the chewing tobacco! [laughs]”.

To hear Joseph's whole story, take a listen at the DAI!

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