The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
TIMMINS – It is not easy for a woman to get to the top in a male-dominated industry such as mining. Barb Courte, a big name in the world of diamond drilling, spoke at the Dante Club on Thursday at a Women in Business luncheon hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.
Courte, president and CAO of Northstar Drilling Ltd. and Cobra Diamond Drilling Ltd., said heads are quick to turn when she tells people about her heavy-duty line of work.
“As women, we’re not supposed to be working in the drilling industry,” said Courte, about past experiences, which have led her to work in places like Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sweden and most recently, the Dominican Republic. “I’ll tell you, after some of the things I’ve learned about mechanical stuff and down-the-hole stuff, it’s pretty bad. I have to check if I’m still female once in awhile.”
Courte’s tale in far from conventional. After getting married to Garry, a diamond driller, she never envisioned she’d be the one to eventually call the shots. In fact, at the time, she barely knew what drilling was.
“When I met my husband, I said, ‘What do you do?’ He said, ‘I’m a diamond driller,’ and I said, ‘Oh really!”, remembered Courte, getting one of many laughs from the crowd on the afternoon.
“I didn’t know,” she added, this time with a tone of seriousness.
Little by little, Courte, a nurse by trade, got to know the business in which her husband excelled.
With two children at the time, the family moved often, but were finally looking to settle down with the kids in Northwestern Ontario, where Northstar Drilling was expanding operations.
But in 2007, everything changed.
“We were in the process of moving,” explained Courte. “We were in North Bay when he took a heart attack. At that time, I didn’t realize the amount of strength I had within me, but I think we all have it.
“You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. I looked at my children and I said, ‘We have no choice, we have to move forward,’ and we did.
Garry died that morning at 4 a.m. By 9 a.m., Courte was on the road with her children to personally deliver the news to the employees at Northstar’s mine near Thunder Bay.
“I was crying all the way there for 12 hours,” she recalled, saying they didn’t stop to eat and almost ran out of gas in the rush. “We drove right to the drill camp.”
The sudden tragedy was stressful for Courte. Not only had she lost a husband, but the responsibility of the company he left behind fell squarely on her shoulders.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/24/diamond-drill-cao-shares-success-story