from the cataract of Churchill Falls; a project so enormous ‘a man can’t get his mind around it’

ALAN EDMONDS September 1 1969


from the cataract of Churchill Falls; a project so enormous ‘a man can’t get his mind around it’

ALAN EDMONDS September 1 1969


from the cataract of Churchill Falls; a project so enormous ‘a man can’t get his mind around it’

AT 6.05 P.M. ON WEDNESDAY, May 21, at about the time two Apollo 10 astronauts were preparing to buzz the surface of the moon, Eddie St. Amour and Jean-Yves St. Pierre tucked the last of 165 sticks of Forcite explosive into the 13th bore hole drilled that afternoon, then slowly rode their clanking hoist back 1,193 feet down the blackness of the shaft they had spent three months digging.

That shaft is properly described as Penstock No. 1 of the $950-million Churchill Falls hydro-electric power project in mid-Labrador. It is the biggest civil-engineering project under way in North America, the biggest single-site hydro-power job in the world and the efforts of around 4,500 men and 407 women living in luxury halfway to nowhere are dedicated to making sure that on November 1, 1971, the falls will have run dry and the diverted water will pour down these penstocks, or chutes, past generators producing enough power to run Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver as well.

Eleven penstocks are being cut out from the bottom up, the bottom being a cavern burrowed about a mile inside the young mountain of dun-grey Labrador rock that forms one wall of the Churchill River gorge. Each penstock is one fifth of a mile high and 32 degrees off the vertical, so that it is a major engineering achievement to come out on the surface at the prescribed point. It is the more vital to do so because they are building the water intake structure on the surface simultaneously, and if the penstocks come through a foot or so out it could cost $100,000, $500,000, a million, two: in the heady figures of Churchill Falls’ financing, no one seems to know for sure. Penstock No. 1, therefore, was the most visible of all the milestones reached thus far in the Churchill Falls project. That afternoon of Wednesday, May 21, everyone at



the camp knew the miners were nearing the surface.

At 6.09 p.m. Eddie and Jean-Yves reached the foot of the shaft. Eddie took the cable that runs up the shaft to the electric fuse igniter near the top, stripped off the insulation and jammed the bared wire into a live electric-light socket. Above, a spark lit the Thermalite fuse. It spluttered along at seven seconds to the foot for one minute and 10 seconds before reaching the 10 feet of actual explosive fuse that just hissed a little before setting off the Forcite, which is a mixture of nitroglycerin and conventional dynamite.

On the surface, a surprisingly small piece of rock bobbed six feet into the air, along with a puff of dust and smoke. Underground, clattering boulders tumbled out of the bottom of the hole. Eddie St. Amour walked to the hole, felt a draft and happily slapped Jean-Yves, his friend and neighbor from Val d’Or. They were through. It was 6.14 p.m. Later, they heard that the breakthrough was within two inches of where it should have been.

Eddie and Jean-Yves both say they are interested in cash, not prestige — but both stayed on after their shift ended at 5 p.m. to rob their night-shift colleagues of the honor of breaking through the last eight feet of rock and make the shaft 1,201 feet from bottom to top.

That evening, and the next day, a lot of people — engineers, construction bosses, cat drivers, a tavern waiter — went to inspect the jagged two-by-three-foot hole. It is at the base of the wall carved by explosives in the top of the Churchill River gorge to make the water intakes. They stood near it in their mandatory hard hats, smoking, grinning, saying little. But when asked, none of them would concede that it was much of an achievement. Even Ulric Sherman Shakespeare Hodgins, a John Wayne character who bosses the multimillion-dollar mining part of the project and is not by nature reticent, would only mumble something about its being “what we’re here for.”

It was a puzzling modesty, until a couple of days later when Bill Steele, the didactic chief surveyor, pointed out over his fifth beer that just a few hours after the breakthrough two Apollo astronauts had flown to within nine miles of the moon. If the spacemen make us all feel puny, that particular feat was even more humbling to the men of Churchill Falls. “If you measure what we’ve done down here against

what they’ve done up there, it doesn’t seem to amount to much,” said Steele.

It does, though. Like reaching the moon, harnessing Churchill Falls has been one of the few clearly discernible technical goals of this century. In 1894 government geologist A. P. Low trekked to the centralLabrador basin, gazed upon the bellying, boiling waters of the then-named Grand Falls — at 245 feet, they’re 85 feet higher than Niagara — and reported in awe that there was “several millions of horsepower” in them. Every Canadian politician who ever had a Vision of The North (and they have been legion) has had halfhidden at the back of his mind the image of Churchill Falls crowned by a plume of spray shot with eternal rainbows. But until now there has been neither the technical ability to transmit the power out to where it was needed, nor men with guts enough to risk the millions and reputations involved.

But in this decade the engineers have been quietly remaking Canada’s northland. While politicians are still brewing up northern visions, engineers who hardly know the meaning of the term are damming rivers, building inland seas, erecting mountains, changing the face of the land many prefer to believe is the quintessential Canada. The Peace River dam; the Columbia River project; the potash mines of Saskatchewan; Kettle Rapids in Manitoba; Manicouagan in Quebec; Churchill Falls — above all, Churchill Falls.

The proportions are Homeric. The falls sit on the edge of a saucer-shaped piece of Labrador that is part of the land author Hammond Innes described as Land God Gave To Cain. Those who know it say that Cain promptly passed it on to someone else: even the Indians have never lived there.

To reach the falls and begin work on the project men built 120 miles of boulder-pitted road from the Quebec North Shore And Labrador Railway, itself an engineering wonder, through the sub-Arctic forest of mangy, stunted spruce and birch. In winter the temperature hovers around 30-below. It begins to snow in September and by the time it ends the next May about 150 inches of the stuff have fallen. Through June a local breed of mosquito as big as a quarter and the ubiquitous blackfly infest a land still piebald with patches of glacial snow, pockmarked with the footprints of moose and caribou and the occasional wolf.

The magnitude of it all is hard to grasp. Andy Liljefors, a veteran of construction jobs from Africa and Latin America through to the Toronto subway, says with a shake of his head, “It’s too big for a man to get his mind around. It is an enormous job, impersonal and compartmentalized and you can only do what you can

It’s the world’s biggest hydro project, able to fill six million bathtubs, drain a land twice as big as Holland and girdle the globe with 65 million light bulbs


do, and not see it all.” Much of the work is scheduled and monitored by computers in Montreal. The efforts of public-relations men to reduce the project to peoplesize have been frantic^, and sometimes ludicrous. A seven-page fact sheet cheerfully given to anyone who cares tells you that the central-Labrador saucer will eventually be flooded to make a reservoir more than a third the size of Lake Ontario; that 9,780,000,000,000 gallons of water from an area almost twice the size of The Netherlands will flow through the penstocks every year into the largest underground powerhouse in the world; that it will produce more than 34-billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, increasing Canada’s hydropower output by 20 percent. In one of the more desperate flights of fancy, public-relations man Langevin Coté calculated that one underground chamber would always contain enough water to fill six million bathtubs “without people in them.” They are presumably still working on the calculations of how many with people in them.

The bathtub analogy is singularly, if accidentally, apt because the tiled bathroom could easily stand as one of the symbols of what the Churchill Falls developers have done to the hardy old myth of life in the raw in northern construction camps. At Churchill Falls men have bathtubs. And showers. And automatic washers and dryers in most 10-room, 20-man bunkhouses. And sheets on the bed and maid service (though the maid is a man, and called a janitor). And first-run movies. And a choice of dishes in the massive mess hall. And a ski-run and a library. And . . .

To reach Churchill Falls Main Camp, perched on the edge of the river gorge, you fly 250 miles from Seven Islands, Quebec, or 650 from St. John’s, New-

A men-only bar and a cataract of beer: 3,000 gallons a week to stay ahead of the thirst

foundland, (only freight cornes by rail and road) over tedious expanses of bush and water, and think that the only thing more staggering than the millions of people in North America is the amount of room left for more, and you reach the main crossroads in the middle of the little city they call Main Camp. There you see a 50-ton behemoth of a truck, with tires worth $3,000 apiece, churning up a dust storm that settles to reveal two little French-Canadian secretaries in miniskirts and high-fashion boots tripping across to a tin-hut office for all the world as if it were Place Ville Marie at lunchtime.

“We brought the females in earlier than on most projects as part of our policy to make the camp as normal a place to live as possible — let’s face it, living away from women isn’t normal — and when they arrived last summer the men immediately began turning up to meals shaved and washed and tidy, much more spruced up than before,” says Elmer Squires, the management-relations expert who is site manager for the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation.

It was a shock to both men and women. “At first,

to eat in the mess hall with hundreds of men, I wore my slacks, but one of the men said that they liked to see a woman in skirts, so I wear my mini because if it pleases them to see us in skirts, then it isn’t much to ask,” says Claudette Lebrun, who is 25, pert, a little plump and has good legs in a mini. “I have two very mini skirts — they’re 10 inches above the knee — but I don’t wear them to the mess hall because although I want to be feminine I don’t want to provoke the men.” There are 127 single women and girls who use the 920-seat mess hall and are thus thrust into the view of, if not into contact with, the construction workers. Sixtyfour girls work in the hangar-sized mess hall and the snack bar; 63 are office girls, teachers and nurses. They are there for as many reasons as there are girls, but it’s mostly the money. A waitress in the mess hall gets more than $400 a month, plus generous tips if she works in the snack bar; a secretary earns $500 and the school librarian, who is 25 and tries to hide the fact she is very pretty behind horn rims, brown stockings and a bun, gets $ 11,000 a year.

All the mess-hall girls are from Newfoundland. The office girls are about half and half French and English Canadian, and to these a trip to the mess hall is an occasion. The English-Canadian girls regard it as an ordeal: “All those hungry eyes, stripping you naked,” says one. The French-Canadian girls almost enjoy it: “At first I kept my coat on in the hall, but then I found the men are more gallant than I have ever known, and if a man looks at a woman and enjoys what he sees, then it is good for him,” says secretary Helene Tiernan, formerly an MP’s aide in Ottawa.

The presence of women in a construction camp is not in itself remarkable. For the past five years increasing numbers of engineers’ wives have been going north with their husbands (there are about 280 wives and families at Churchill Falls). But they usually live sequestered lives, so that the workers — the men northern legend says are rude and brutalized — are less likely to be inflamed by a glimpse of swirling hair or swelling calf. Nor are unattached women total strangers to bush construction, because in the past couple of years they have appeared in places such as the Kettle Rapids hydro development in Manitoba — but only when the permanent community brought in to run the installation had begun to take shape. What is unusual about the girls of Churchill Falls is that they should have been there in the early days of the job, and be expected to eat with all those hairy workers. As such, they are a little like the cows put into a bullring to gentle a snorting bull.

They are also the most visible demonstration of just how man has learned to pack his civilization with him to the wilderness. For several years, the hellhole bunkhouse camp has been slowly giving way to a sort of broadloomed exurbia that has culminated in the lonely splendors of Churchill Falls, and now the Canadian north will never be the same again.

This summer there were 2,700 of the 4,500 work force at Main Camp, living in “bunkhouses” clustered about the recreation centre. This houses a movie theatre whose three movies a week are those on current release in Montreal, a barber shop, a laundry, a commissary where the big sellers are work shirts, sexy books and toys to take or send home to the kids, a pool hall, darts room, TV lounge, snack bar and seven telephone booths — which must be one of the Bell’s most profitable installations ever, since there’s a constant queue of men waiting outside each booth to call home on “the outside.”

The recreation centre also houses the entertainmentofficer’s quarters and the men-only tavern, which is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. so the night shift can have an after-breakfast beer, and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the day shift — “just long enough to get the taste, and no longer,” says one man. The tavern sells around 25,000 bottles of beer a week at 50 cents a bottle, and the biggest problem is keeping the supply flowing during opening hours. Each Saturday night the five “pourers” open 120 bottles of beer before the doors are unlocked, knowing the seven waiters will have distributed them all within five minutes. “We have hardly any trouble here, but if the customers’ thirst gets ahead of the pouring it could be dangerous,” says assistant manager Norman Clyde, an improbably dapper figure in winkle-picker shoes and stovepipe trousers.

There are several reasons why the accommodation and facilities at Churchill Falls are so civilized, and are becoming more so: a new permanent town centre, complete with hotel and cocktail bar, is due to be opened this fall. The biggest reason may be that Donald McParland, the 40-year-old president of the British Newfoundland Corporation, parent of the Churchill Falls company, once worked in the old-style construction-

Why go north? It’s mostly because of the money.

camp helltowns both as a student and a miner, and didn’t like it much. The other is the kind of man involved in the project. Construction boss Ulric Sherman Shakespeare Hodgins, or “Shake” in the construction business, says that most of the men working in northern construction are “up north escaping family problems, money problems or drinking problems.” By his definition, the Northern Vision of Canada is being brought to fruition by the rejects of urban society. But in the case of Churchill Falls, many of the men are there simply because there is no work in Newfoundland that pays as well as Churchill Falls, not because they have problems. “To get and keep these kind of people you’ve got to provide decent facilities,” says camp boss Elmer Squires.

All jobs must be offered first to Newfoundlanders, then to Quebeckers. A basic laborer can earn $700 a month and pays only $60 a month for room and board. A heavy-truck driver makes as much as $1,200 a month. Eddie St. Amour, who blew the charge that opened up the first penstock, got $1,380 for two weeks’ work just before the breakthrough. And the 200 lumberjacks clearing a path through the forest for the power lines can — and sometimes do — gross $2,000 a month in pay and bonuses.

The pay and living conditions are similar at the string of nine out-camps, between 15 and 140 miles from the falls, where men are mostly engaged in building dykes to contain the reservoir floodwaters. Life is lonely, and harder, for them — but still they get two-man rooms, janitor service, a choice of meals and the latest movies shown on $1,500 projectors usually operated by the camp cook.

All this, however, is life in the Camp

Site as opposed to the Town Site. The Town Site is where the management workers—top foremen, engineers, draftsmen, managers, schoolteachers, policemen—live in furnished trailers, which provide about the same accommodation and space as a twoor three-bedroom highrise apartment. There’s a duplicate-bridge club, university extension courses, a supermarket that sells marjoram and avocado pears, and what one man says is the biggest mobile coffee klatch east of Prince Rupert. The Town Site is where the school is, and the library, and the club where the bar is open to management men seven hours a day (nine on Saturdays) and where you see that a draconian caste system is part of the civilization in microcosm that man has shipped north.

The Camp Site and the Town Site are physically separated by a road officially called Ninth Street, and known to the men as Dollies’ Alley because the messhall girls’ bunkhouses are on one side. The staff club is on the other.

The men qualified to use the staff club all wear white hard hats; the workers’ hats are colored. The tavern is for men only, but on Saturdays management men can take wives and girl friends to the staff club to drink and dance. The office girls and teachers and nurses all live in the Town Site in a hostel but, unlike the mess-hall girls, they have a lounge for entertaining boy friends. The mess - hall girls have an 11 p.m. curfew, the office girls don’t. The workers can’t entertain women in their rooms; the young engineers, a lot of whom live in former portable motel units designed for Expo 67, can entertain whom they like, usually the office girls who are rendered more attractive by the fact they don’t have a curfew. “There’s incredible snobbery and class distinction,” says 25 - year - old Barbara McKeown, the school librarian.

The mess-hall girls have always had to kiss boy friends good-night on the bunkhouse doorstep at 11 p.m. Not long ago there was an office-girl’s rebellion because they were suddenly denied the right to actually entertain men in their rooms. It seems they had done so quite freely until one day management put up a notice in the lobby, which said: “No Men Past This Point.” An outraged deputation of three girls stomped into the management offices, but were sent packing. “I resent being treated like an amoral schoolgirl,” says Barbara McKeown.

The class distinctions are traditional and may be needed for on-job discipline; the rules about drinking and girls and other kinds of antisocial behavior are, says security officer Dick Vessey, an exMountie sergeant, “the sort of code you’ve got to have because, after all, 100 girls and a few thousand men are a potentially a . . . . well, a volatile mixture.” Camp boss Elmer Squires says, “The key to the project is the comfort and well-

being of the men, because without them we won’t be able to build the project in time and on budget, and everything, rules included, is designed to make this as attractive and convenient a place to live as you might expect in the middle of the bush.”

To that end, each man is expected to take a couple of weeks off to go “outside” every six months: after three

months the company pays his fare out, and after six it also antes up the fare back again. Drinking instead of working, being a cardsharp or a homosexual, fighting, stealing or being caught in a compromising position with a member of the opposite sex — all lead to a seat on the next flight out. A man caught leaving a girl’s room and the second man then caught in her room a few minutes later were sent out next morning. So was the girl.

The result of all these rules is that Churchill Falls is something of a disappointment to the romantic who goes there expecting to find rugged life in the raw. On Saturday nights the place is quieter than a town of the same size in the south.

I was there one Saturday when the big excitements were the showing of a movie about Catherine the Great, and the semifinal of the darts championship. A prodigious quantity of beer was drunk, and when the bar closed not everyone found the road to the bunkhouse straight and narrow. But at the same time there was a constantly replenished queue of about 50 men at the phones. Two groups of men played scratch games of football and volleyball in the arena built for ice skating, and when one footballer was kicked in the shin he described his assailant only as “a clumsy fool” — there was a young waitress on the volleyball team next door. Outside, in the car park, three guitarists, a fiddler and a man playing the spoons entertained for an impromptu open-air dance. They played Newfoundland folk songs and sang them in a dialect incomprehensible to the Englishspeaking world.

In the Town Site a surveyor who had worked on Penstock No. 1 held a party for the hard-rock miners who had cut the shaft. For the occasion, the miners had crossed Ninth Street from the Camp Site. Eddie St. Amour sat in a corner of the trailer, listening to Sinatra on the stereo, sipped a Tom Collins and said that he had never worked in a northern construction camp before and that it was very surprising to find pleasant rooms and washing machines and bathrooms and girls in miniskirts. “The girls, it doesn’t seem right,” he said. “But altogether it is very, very . . . très agrée able.”

Outside an animal howled. It might have been someone’s pet poodle, but it was probably a timber wolf. □

Togetherness in the bush ^

The men are taming the wilderness and the women are taming the men

“UP HERE IS the last place I know where your enemy isn’t the guy at the next desk or office or car; it’s the land around you and the climate and the difficulties of the job. Up here men work together against them, because they’re everybody’s enemy anyway. Down south . . . well, as they say, it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

The bush begins 122 paces from Gordon Stibbards’ front door on 12th Street in the Town Site of Churchill Falls, and last winter when it was 30-below and the snow congealed into walls on either side of the front path, he and his wife Marge put on snowshoes and took a .22 rifle to hunt ptarmigan, which is a delicious Arctic grouse.

They found bird tracks just a few trees in, and followed. Soon, they came across the tracks of a fox, which was also following the ptarmigan. Then the tracks ended: either the bird had flown or the fox had had dinner. They turned back to camp, and saw some additional tracks. A wolf had been following them.

Gordon Stibbards is 30, a small, wiry man with difficult hair and unlovely knees, which may be why he doesn’t talk much about his activities as Scoutmaster of the First Churchill Falls Troop. He is a mining technician, which is somewhere between a foreman and an engineer, and at Churchill Falls he inspects contractors’ work on behalf of the development company. He and Marge are the kind of people who are changing the north.

They have been married for six years, but were separated at first while Gordon worked in the north. Then, at Manicouagan hydro - power project in northern Quebec, junior - management

people were permitted the privilege that on most jobs had been available only to top brass: they, too, could have their families with them. Marge left a tidy suburban villa in Welland, in southern Ontario, and moved to the middle of nowhere to set up housekeeeping in a threebedroom trailer pretty well interchangeable with the one they have occupied for the past year at Churchill Falls. For this one, they pay $60 a month rent out of Gordon’s $14,000-a-year salary. Their neighbors include many couples they worked and lived with at Manic.

In northern construction, a man’s reputation precedes him, and it is beginning to be so with the wives. Gordon is known to be good with boys (he has two, James and Terrence), which is why he is a Scoutmaster, and Marge is known as someone you can dragoon into good works. She collected $103 for the Heart Fund and $117 for the CNIB last winter, and says that “considering the salaries up here, my neighbors are damned mean.”

These activities are their modest contribution to creating an instant community. “Somehow,” says Marge, “it comes together without any strain. The men are drawn together by the job, and the women by the isolation.” There’s a peewee hockey league, university extension courses, musical groups, bridge clubs, sewing circles and the library, run twice a week by Nora Rosso, wife of the safety director. Gordon says every engineer has probably read Gibbon’s Decline And Fall, “whereas down south you’d have to

wait until you broke your leg or something to get through it.” Marge says that in Churchill Falls the unisex cult of the cities is a joke. “Here, men are very masculine, and women pretty well obliged to be very womanly. Most wives sew and knit and embroider and can bake bread and make berry wines and do other things you’d never dream of in the city.”

There are also lots of parties, supplied with liquor by a twice-monthly “milk run” in which the crew of a company plane on the run to Wabush fills liquor orders from management people only. Midway through one such party Gordon stepped outside to look at the Northern Lights, and said, “Life in the north is fun because of the money and the people and the country. But to stay in a place like this you have to be able to feel you have built something, or are helping build something, that is useful and permanent and worth leaving behind. How much longer? Oh, I’ve got another 15, maybe 20 years on this sort of job. By then, you won’t recognize the north country — not after what we’ve done to it.” □

The man at the top


The man who said it could be doneand did it

BY THE SPRING of 1952, when Joey Smallwood went to London to sell his dream of harnessing the power of Hamilton Falls, only about 100 white men had ever trekked halfway to nowhere to see them. Donald McParland, who was then writing his degree thesis at the University of Toronto mechanical - engineering department, was not one of these men. But while other students wrote of the use of titanium alloys in turbine-blade design, or somesuch, Noranda insurance agent’s son Donald McParland produced a thesis on the, importance of Hamilton Falls to the growth of eastern Canada. It earned a “B” mark. As he remembers it now: “I wasn’t used to getting Bs, so I asked the professor why and he said that it was because the idea was too speculative. He said I should be writing for Maclean’s, which I considered to be as good as saying I’d never make an engineer.”

Now 40, McParland is more than any other man the masterbuilder of the biggest single - site hydro - electric power project in the world. He is president of the British Newfoundland Corporation (Brinco) and of its offshoot, the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation, which is harnessing the cataract that used to be Hamilton Falls (once, Grand Falls) before the dreamer who made it all possible, Premier Smallwood, returned from his 1952 trip to London and later renamed it after Sir Winston Churchill.

It would be nicely poetic to record that in the years between, while becoming one of Canada’s most important development engineers, Donald McParland was haunted by his early dream of Churchill Falls. The fact is, he had all but forgotten the subject until 1963, when he was asked his opinion about the feasibility of a Churchill Falls hydro project. He subsequently joined the development company, became responsible

for the job — and found his former professor’s words echoed on all sides.

“This project has been a series of people saying you can’t do it,” he said one day this summer in his 20th-floor suite in a new Montreal skyscraper. “They said it wasn’t practical to build a major project in isolation in the middle of Labrador, and then that you couldn’t deliver the power economically, and that if you could do that you’d never solve the political problems of working with various levels of government, and that a privately owned company in the public-utility field was an anachronism. And if those reasons weren’t enough, they said we wouldn’t raise the billion dollars needed because the biggest bond issue ever made by a private corporation in the U.S. was only $300or $400 million.”

In the past year, in a tight-money situation, Brinco went to the bond market and raised the balance of the $950 million needed to finish the job. McParland had put together a proposition to provide lowcost power for eastern Canada (most of the next 65 years’ output has already been sold to Hydro Quebec) and the Atlantic seaboard. The plan was so attractive that he even managed to raise about $400 million from the notoriously Canada-shy Canadian investor.

McParland is neither a steely - eyed mastermind nor a misty-eyed dreamer. He is an undemonstrative, angular-faced man described by one business expert as “the ultimate professional.” He still thinks of himself as, essentially, an engineer and says that “what most people, including a lot of engineers, don’t understand is that engineering is very creative.

“You build a mine or undertake some other resource development and you open up a country that was empty before, where people live and set up communities. When I stand at the Manicouagan dam [Quebec], which I had nothing whatever to do with, I consider it a beautiful sight, functional and aesthetically appealing. When I can stand back and look at 5,000 megawatts of electricity going out over transmission lines at Churchill Falls, I will probably think they’re beautiful, too.

“You know, they say people climb mountains because they are there. That’s part of the Churchill Falls thinking. They are there and they have this incredible potential and it simply has to be done. Who can do it better than we can in Canada? It’s the challenge, that’s all.”

There is a kind of man who, bereft of challenge, would wither and die. Donald McParland, battling boardroom barracking and the elements of mid-Labrador, took up sailing a few years ago. He might have bought a sedate sloop so he and his wife and four children could sail restfully around the St. Lawrence. In fact, he bought a Corvette, which, he is quick to explain, is the Canadian design that came second and beat most American entries in the Miami-Nassau race last year. □