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Getting a charge out of aquaculture

January 3, 2013

By Gina Forsyth

For more than 11 years Joe Johnson has been responsible for Maintenance and Electrical work at Big Tree Creek Hatchery near Sayward. “My job is to keep everything maintained and running and to do anything to make the staffs’ lives easier, better, or safer,” Joe says.

“I’ve got an old shop on-site with just about every tool and machine a guy could want, including welders, table saws and a drill press. If it’s made from wood, aluminum stainless, steel, or plastics, I can build it or fix it,” he adds.

He was born and raised in Victoria and finished grade 12 at Vanier High in Courtenay. After graduation, Joe completed his four year electrical apprenticeship at Camosun College in Victoria.

Joe Johnson, Hatchery Electrician, Marine Harvest

“I’m happy to say I’ve spent my entire life on Vancouver Island,” says Joe.

Joe has worked in construction all over the Island. His father was an electrician and Joe is very proud to follow his dad’s career path. From Victoria to Port Hardy, he has wired hospitals, pulp mills, mines, apartment blocks, and even refitted a cruise ship. Even after 30 years of work, Joe still enjoys doing side jobs on nights and weekends through Joe Johnson Electric.

Along the way, Joe worked for four and a half years at Quinsam Coal. “I was underground and really enjoyed it – it’s a whole different world down there,” he says. “My great grandfather was a coal miner and that connection meant a lot to me.,”

He made the successful transition to aquaculture after his wife saw an ad for the maintenance position at the hatchery. Until then, electrical work had been contracted out, and the managers and Joe chose to take a chance and have an electrician on staff. “We decided on a three month trial to ensure everybody was happy. I think it has worked out well for all of us.”

Joe met his wife Susan while at a construction job in Port Hardy.  They’ve been married for 19 years and have raised three wonderful kids. The family built a house four years ago – a task that was on Joe’s “bucket list”. Joe enjoys his home and gets great satisfaction from the simple things, such as cutting grass.

Joe is active all year round, whether it be golfing, baseball (he’s a long standing member of team ‘Upchuck’), camping in the summer or floor hockey in the winter. “I’ve been playing sports with the same group for more than 25 years,” said Joe, adding that he’s enjoying it as much as ever.

“Susan and I have also been lucky enough to enjoy many trips to Mexico. Life is good.”

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