I used to live in Pinawa, so I had to take the opportunity to get back there. I got this exact T-shirt on this exact day in this exact location 28 years ago. Yes, it has lasted this long, as well as the friendship with the person who gave it to me.
I remember the entrance sign which still seems the same but used to have the population listed, which as I remember it was 2079. When one of my friends left to go back to school and do a Master’s degree, he put duct tape over the 9 and wrote in an 8. Duct tape was an important part of our work at WNRE, but I must add that I’m talking about field work, not the nuclear reactor!
We used to hang out at the Old Pinawa Dam, which is now a park. We played in the water, and the waterfalls, but I don’t remember these warning signs. I was told that there have been a number of deaths there, so people take the danger much more seriously than we did. We were young and indestructible – as are all youngsters. I remember friends and colleagues trying to see who could get the best time down the unpaved highway 520 – and them commenting that it was a company vehicle and they had a winch, so if it went off the road who cared? But it wasn’t a company-issued passenger inside.
Friends who worked underground would come up to the surface for a 30 minute lunch, and they used to sit in the field and pick blueberries – they could pretty much fill a pint bottle in the 30 minutes without even having to move from where they were seated. They’d bring them home to Kelsey House (now the conference center – not changed at all!) and throw them to me, expecting me to make something delicious (cobbler, crumble, jam, sauce over ice cream, pancakes…)
This is actually the last summer I remember just playing. I had a great time. I biked back to Kelsey House after work, taught an aerobics class, had supper, went for a swim or out canoeing, played volleyball, and still the sun wouldn’t have set. We watched the northern lights, went on weekend canoe trips, talked about the wonders of the universe, danced, made homemade Irish Creme liqueur and hung out.
The place is still basically the same, except they are dismantling WNRE. But the friends have gone, mostly back to university. It isn’t the same, it was the friendships that made Pinawa special.