Setting poles

Hydro 212 slinging poles

The pole yard on the Pickle Lake line re-build

February of 1974 found me in Central Patricia. Ontario Hydro had hired Viking’s 500 to support their operation replacing poles on the line from Pickle Lake to Red Lake. Much of the right-of-way ran through swamps and bogs, thus the operation couldn’t have been completed in the summer. It was extremely cold, but the ground crew guys out on the line doing the hardest part of the job had no complaints. Theirs was a no-nonsense operation, the kind of which I liked to be a part.

I enjoyed shooting the shit with them in the mornings and evenings when we put the feed bag on. In fact, all of the Ontario Hydro line maintenance personnel that I worked with over the years were beyond reproach. They worked hard, got along well and, like me, enjoyed their job.

Working with the ground crews was the best part of this job.

The crew on the 212 weren’t a friendly bunch. That’s the first time I had ever encountered an attitude such as that. I guess their noses were out of joint because one of their own helicopters wasn’t on the job with them. Either that, or they took some exception to Viking’s line patrol abilities. I suppose whittling down a line patrol from six to eight weeks to a measly two weeks didn’t sit well at the time. In fact, I know it didn’t, and we had plenty of Toronto head-office types on our asses. Fortunately, Hydro’s own field supervisors were behind us 100 per cent – probably another reason the flight crew’s noses were out of joint.

That was one job I was particularly happy to be done with.

3 thoughts on “Setting poles

  1. doug potts

    I was in Aerotrades hangar in 1979 when a new bell L1 shows up to do cold weather testing…it was painted yellow and white and had sealand on the side…said it was going to nova scotia as soon as possible..they said they had just bought gemair…made little sense until years later…pottsy

  2. Rick tyefisher

    Can’t see the colors on the 212 very well. Got any more shots so we ca see their “true” colors?

    Those Hydro jobs were always good times. I remember one out of Gillam working for Comstock setting ears on the towers with one of Lambs Alouettes. We had Gerry McArthur with his 206 C-FGEM as out “competition”. Let’s just say the Alouette was quite a workhorse!

    I wonder how many remember that Craig Dobbin bought GEM Air and Gerry’s 206 to start Sealand?

    1. Twolane Post author

      I agree, Rick. All of the hydro contracts I was on, except for this one, were good jobs. Fortunately, this job didn’t last all that long. In any event, the line crew made the job. They were great to get along with.

      Gerry McArthur is a name I haven’t heard for decades now. I’ve forgotten so many people in the business over the intervening years. I do recall Gerry and GEM Air, but I don’t recall that Dobbin bought his license to start Sealand.

      Those pix of the 212 are re-photographs of two bad photos that I have. Unfortunately, nothing better exists as hard copy.


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