April 18 - Linemen and Linewomen Appreciation Day
Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Without Power Line Technicians we wouldn’t have electricity to charge your phones or use your computers to read this post.
So how did it all started?
The real push for linemen started immediately after WWII, when Manitoba began their plan to bring electricity to 50 000 farms. In order to do this, about 69 000 kilometers of transmission and distribution lines needed to be built. In the history books, this would be known as the Farm Electrification or Rural Electrification era.
With the return of manpower from the War Front, Manitoba had the manpower needed to build the lines. At that time, the Manitoba Power Commission predecessor to Manitoba Hydro, hired many linemen. They made 35 cents per hour (approx. $5.58 in today’s monetary value). After 3 months, the wage was increase to 45 cents per hour (approx. $7.18 in today’s monetary value).
There is usually more than one person on site. The man climbing the pole was called the lineman, and the man on the ground was called a groundman. Being a lineman was a bit different back then. There was no such thing as proper safety equipment such as hard hats or safety vests. All they had was a tool belt wrapped around their waist that weighed 40 lbs. and spurs on their feet.
In Manitoba, the lineman training program was developed in 1947 during the years of the Farm Electrification program.
In 1997, 50 years of linemen training was celebrated in Brandon where both formerly and currently linemen, watched demonstrations featuring the changes in tools, equipment, and line building methods over the 50 years.
Though in many other fields women have worked alongside men, this wasn’t true in the linemen work. However, this was changed as 2013 marked a Milestone in Manitoba’s linesmen history. After completing her four-year apprenticeship in the Power Line Technician program at Manitoba Hydro, Jessica Hadfield from Selkirk became the first female linewomen in Manitoba.
“Neither rain, nor snow, nor ice... Manitoba Hydro’s linemen always do their best to maintain the supply of electricity to customers.”
Do you have what it takes to be a Power Line Technician?