Trip underground brings reporter closer to father – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 13, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

What seemed like a good idea was questionable Wednesday at 2:30 a.m. mid-panic attack.

It started weeks back with a request to Vale’s Angie Robson for an interview with Kelly Strong after he was appointed vice-president of Vale’s Ontario and U.K. operations.

It ended Thursday with The Star’s managing editor Brian MacLeod, photographer John Lappa and I going 1.5 miles underground.

Strong suggested we do the interview underground and we settled on Creighton Mine after I mentioned my father had worked there decades ago.

I was looking forward to it until Robson sent me a fact sheet about Creighton two days before our visit and it registered that Creighton Mine is as deep as 4.5 CN Towers stacked up. Gulp.

My father, Ernie Mulligan, worked there for at least a dozen years before he died in 1963. As a girl, I pestered my dad to go to work with him. At age nine, I was wounded when my boy cousin could accompany his electrician father to work in a residence, when I couldn’t see where my dad worked.

That injustice was corrected 50 years later.

When my father spoke of Creighton, it was about the people. The guys with whom he drove to work. The friendships made underground and over beer at the old Trade Winds Hotel in Lively. The supervisor he used to warn, when he couldn’t read his handwriting, that he was going to bring his nine-year-old to work to teach him how to write.

Like many miners, my father never spoke of danger. He told my Toronto aunts when they visited one time, and he was limping, that sweeping floors was more dangerous than mining. He hadn’t hurt himself thousands of feet underground. He’d twisted his knee cleaning up at the old Whitefish Legion.

After his death, Creighton Mine was pretty much forgotten. In the last decade, I’ll admit to shamelessly using my pedigree as a miner’s daughter to compensate for the fact I knew nothing about mining when I started covering the beat.

During the strike between United Steelworkers Local 6500 and Vale from July 2009 to July 2010, I eased my way into interviews with strikers, naturally suspicious of reporters, by telling them my dad had worked at Creighton.

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