Last week saw another chapter in Kitimat’s rich history closed as Lloyd Hubbard and his family shut the doors to Caron Electrical behind them for the last time.
After 40 years Lloyd and the family decided that the approaching boom was a good time to sell – the building, which was originally Kitimat Royal Bank when Lloyd bought it, sold for the asking price – the new owners take over from June 1.
“I bought the building for $20,000 – $10 down and $10 every month after that,” said Lloyd, sitting on a stool watching as bargain hunters walked through the store. “Everything must go,” he said, pointing at shelves overflowing with stock.
“I have some sentimental feelings – I will miss the relationships with the people,” said Lloyd, adding that he’s not planning to leave Kitimat just yet. “I will cross that bridge when I get to it.”
He admits that he didn’t think his life would turn out the way it had, when as a 17-year-old farm boy he left his home in Saskatchewan and headed off to Vancouver.
“I was born in Saskatchewan – that’s where I learned how to plow the ground. I decided farming wasn’t for me though.”
Lloyd worked a number of jobs down south, including a stint in Ocean Falls, B.C.
Then one day, while in Vancouver, he walked into a recruitment office that was looking for workers for a major industrial project up in the northwest of B.C. – the Alcan smelter in Kitimat.
“The recruiting agent asked me where I was from – I told him I was from Saskatchewan. He hired me on the spot, no interview, no need for credentials.”
It turns out the recruitment agent was also from Saskatchewan.
He arrived in Kitimat on January 6, 1956, an electrical contractor for Comstock, a major electrical contractor for Alcan, installing rectifiers which were crucial for converting Alternating Current (AC) to Direct Current (DC).
“I came alone and stayed in the Anderson Creek Camp first, then moved into the Flattops, the Cardboard Jungle.”
He said his main concern at the time was opportunity, work and business.
“Kitimat lent itself to opportunity – it was a new town, a pioneer town. The strongest drawcard was the work, and especially the people. It was an exciting time when I got to meet a lot of people.”
One of the people he met would end up becoming his wife and the mother to their six children.
“A friend of mine said – ‘You have to meet this lady!’ When we met we hit it off pretty good.”
Beryl was one of the many schoolteachers that had come to Kitimat to take advantage of the employment opportunities.
Lloyd and Beryl set about creating a home for their family, which grew to six – Bruce, who lives in Kitimat, Carin, who lives in Chilliwack, Glen who lives in Nainamo, Lyle who lives in Port Coquitlam, and Paul and David, who also live in Kitimat. Lloyd named Caron Electrical after Carin.
He was very active outside of work and went on to become chairman of the examining board, helping 280 electricians receive their papers.
He was also an active member of both the Junior Chamber of Commerce as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
“Not bad for a farmer from Saskatchewan, hey!” said Lloyd with a chuckle.