Friday, December 5, 2008

Sad Day for Grandfalls-Windsor

AbitibiBowater announced today that it will close the mill in my hometown before the end of March. The closure will put about 450 people out of work at the mill, my uncle and several in-laws and friends among them, and many more who work in forestry, shipping and other jobs that depend on the paper mill.

The town has grown up around that mill since 1905. My family really sprang forth from the opportunity that the papermill provided, my grandfather raised ten children on the salary he made there. They were never well off financially, but he provided well for them, he worked very hard. My dad too worked there a few years, and many summers- it enabled him to save money to go to university. My Uncle Bill works there still, I am not sure what there will be for him after the mill closes. And I am willing to bet he is wondering the same thing.

The mill allowed people to build a community where everyone knows everyone else, and cares about each other in a way that is simultaneoulsy loving, and smothering. The residents of Grandfalls-Windsor are connected to each other in a lot of ways, but the epicenter of those connections was the mill.

And now it is gone.

When I read the report I was hit first with a worry, it knotted in my belly and tighened there, a hard lump. And then came the anger, and boy there was a lot of that. I wondered how things got to this point? Why had Abitibi not kept the mill in pace with the times? How did the union fail to realize playing hard ball with a company already losing millions was not the best plan? How, especially given the current recesssion, could 88 per cent of the workers reject Abitibi's final offer knowing the company was looking for any excuse to close shop? I just don't get it.

I am not sure what is next for people home. I guess some could find work in Alberta, but even that wellspring is drying up. I know Rex says that the town has diversified, but I don't think it will make it for long without the mill, not without something to replace it.


Anonymous said...

It is all the talk in the town. Leaving many people with the question, "What next?". I don't think I've spoken to a single person since the annoucement who couldn't connect themselves or a family member to this situation. It's really sad.


Terri said...

We've been lucky here that with each industry that closes up, something has taken its place... from textiles to manufacturing to cereal... but for people who were ready to spend thier lives at one company, it sure isn't easy. In one of those periods at the end of textiles in our community, many families had to move to Detroit to work in the car industry, including my granddad as a kid. I love the pictures of when each industry was big-- it was a much tighter community-- but when it comes to an end, it's so much harder. :(

nadinebc said...

Everyone I know is having a tough time. I doubt we have hit bottom yet.

Elaine Dale said...

I was born in Corner Brook where my Dad worked in the mill for a few years before we moved to Grand Falls when I was 12. We moved to GF when my father, Charles Osmond became the principal of the then Grand Falls District Vocational School (now CONA). So I was born and grew up around the sound of logs dropping out of the chute on warm summer nights. If we could hear the logs up at the top of Memorial Avenue we knew it would be a hot day the next day. Do you ever forget the sound of the Mill whistle? GF-W will survive, it will be different but it will survive. Thanks for writing about it in your blog.

Elaine (Osmond) Dale
Woodstock, Ontario