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Welcome to the
John Wostrodowski story

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John Wostradowski, 1960, note the corrogated metal siding used to enclose the East Transfer Track.
1960
Claybank Brick Plant Site


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John Wostradowski
by Fran Aikens

Born and raised around Bayard, Saskatchewan, John was educated at Hapsburg School. At the age of 14 years he went out into the world to make a living working for farmers. Most of the time for no pay, just room and board. Jobs were very scare so John was very happy to be employed by Dominion Fire Brick and Clay Products Ltd. for 27 cents per hour. He worked long hours, with no overtime and only summer work.

During the summer of 1936 and 1937, he lived in the boarding house. There a Chinese cook named Tom Wong supplied the employees with delicious meals and a great time of fellowship was enjoyed by all.

John took a home study course in diesel engineering; when the season's work was over he went to Vancouver to finish his course. No jobs were available in that line so he came back to the plant in 1937. His duties were many: mule skinner, truck driver, hauling coal to the kilns and ashes away, and delivering ice and water to the six houses and groceries to the boarding house.

The Plant had two mules named Pete and Nell. Pete was always a gentleman, no way he would walk in the barn ahead of Nell. John also had to tend the mules on the weekends. Since all the coal and ashes had to be hauled by hand, it was a very happy day when a tractor with a front-end loader was purchased.

Eventually John was promoted to the carpenter shop to build brick moulds. During the War he was conscripted to go overseas but Mr. Goodman, the Plant Manager, said he was needed at the plant to build moulds for the war effort, so he stayed at Claybank. Forty to fifty different mould designs were used for the Corvettes (war ship) in war time. Ten moulders were also kept very busy using different moulds to supply both of Canada's major railroad companies with bricks to line the boilers and fire boxes. Besides working in the carpenter shop John was used as "Joe Boy" to replace anyone absent from work.

In 1949 John moved his family from the home he built in Claybank to a company home on the west side of the plant. Then in 1952 he was offered the superintendent's job, which he took and moved over to the east side of the plant into the brick house. John worked as foreman until 1975, when he suffered a heart attack and decided to retire after nearly forty years at the plant.

John & Grace raised four children at the clayworks: two daughters and two sons. What a beautiful place to live with the rolling majestic hills for a background! John and Grace now live in Avonlea, where he built his retirement home. Their children are all married and raising their own families.

During his time at the Claybank Brick Plant John saw many changes. From mules to tractors to trucks. From coal to natural gas and electricity. Definitely these changes were for the better. John and Grace are thankful for nearly forty years at the clayworks and for life's many blessings.

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Photo of John Wostradowski and the mule 'Pete'.
1940
Claybank Brick Plant Site


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Making a Brick Mold
1960
Claybank Brick Plant Site


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Rebuilding Kiln 9 in 1951
1951
Claybank Brick Plant Site


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Plant Mules, Nellie (white) and Pete (black), 1940.
1940
Claybank Brick Plant Site


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Thank you