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Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

A Life in Three Parts
An accomplished woodworker reflects on injury that changed his life

By Wally Power

Wally Power is a family member of Threads of Life, and a member of the board of directors. He has also served as a board member for the Workers Compensation Board in Nova Scotia. Wally thinks of his personal story as three chapters: life before his injury, the injury and immediately afterward, and the last 50 years. Read his full story here

Before age 25, my life had run an expected schedule: school, some close friends, growing up in large family – typical things for a young man in rural Nova Scotia. As there was no opportunity for a university education, the options for employment were limited. 

I grew up in a family of nine children. My mother made do with what she had and kept the 11 mouths fed. My father worked the railroad and worked hard every day of his life, despite being diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease that left him almost completely blind by the end of his working days. 

Around that time, there was a new pulp mill starting up nearby. I applied for a job and was hired in the wood room, where large logs were brought in, stripped of their bark and prepared for pulping. The accident occurred when I was changing blades on a peeling mechanism. A co-worker accidently started up the machine and in the process my arm was amputated right at the elbow. 

I arrived at the local hospital, St. Martha’s in Antigonish, that Saturday night during visiting hours. My stay lasted 18 days. 

After I returned home to live with my parents, reality began to set in: I had to adjust to living with one arm. Pain medications continued for about two months. Imagine living your life as normally as anyone and now you need to re-learn how to do virtually every small mundane task all over again. Getting dressed presented whole new challenges for me. Try to tie your shoelaces with one hand in your pocket and you’ll get a glimpse of what my life was like every day. 

I was off work for about six months. When I returned, I worked in the lab at the mill and stayed there until retirement. Often we needed to rethink how to execute the tests to accommodate for the missing arm. Sometimes I had the help and support of the company and my co-workers to do this; other times I had to come up with new solutions on my own. 

 Wally with his family

In the years that passed, I married. Mary was one of the lovely nurses that cared for me after my accident. We had our children together and built our life in Port Hawkesbury. I did the things that most husbands and father do. When the house needed fixing, I fixed it. Sometimes it took a little longer with one hand, but I always managed to figure out a way to do the job. 

Mary passed away in 2010 as a result of cancer and kidney failure. After years of having her for support, I now had another adjustment to make.

Not all people who experience life-altering injuries have the same abilities. But everyone has something to offer. I have a sign in my workshop: ‘What the eye can conceive, and the mind can believe, the hand(s) can achieve.’ It is the positive attitude that bridges the gap between desire and ability. I have an obvious disability. I am not handicapped.

Wally with one of his recent woodworking projects

Threads of Life is a registered charity dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, a life-altering injury, or occupational disease. To learn more, visit

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