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Labrador West Pioneer: Max Brace

Max Brace
Max Brace - Gary Shaw

Still going strong




When was the last time you walked into a place of business and were met by someone who had tools in his hands, was dressed in his work clothes and was working away at 83 years of age?

Drop into Braces Woodworking. That’s where you will find Max Brace, most every day, picking away at whatever job that is the day’s project.

Max is a humble, steady as she goes, kind of man whom always meets you with a warm greeting and big smile. He is clearly a true pioneer of Labrador West.

Max, like so many of our Labrador West Pioneers, came here from the island of Newfoundland. His home area was Hampton. He arrived in Labrador West in January of 1967. He has been here a very long time and has never looked back.

When he arrived in Labrador West Max began a 30-year career as a welder with the Iron Ore Company of Canada. There wasn’t much here in the early days. He lived in the bunkhouses and had his meals in the cafeteria. There were no roads in or out and not nearly enough housing to supply the needs of the many people arriving to fuel the needs of the mining sector.

He remembers standing in a line with about 40 other people at 3 a.m. up at the old shopping centre for an opportunity at one of the few houses that were going to be assigned to workers.

Max didn’t just sit on his job at the mine. He was a hard worker and opened a small welding shop out of his garage. He worked his regular shifts at the mine and in the evenings and days off did small welding jobs. All of these efforts were done while he and his wife Theresa raised their two sons who are both still here in Labrador West.

Max chuckled when he told of the time when they finally had a road completed enough that people could actually go somewhere. He said he did the welding required to install the first trailer hitch on a vehicle in Labrador West, progress and growth indeed.

He also spent a good bit of his time on many of his evenings, thawing out frozen water pipes for folks who were faced with daunting challenges of how cold it could get in Labrador West.

All of these efforts by Max were only the beginning of what he is best known for, Brace’s Woodworking, which began in his garage. Max went to the Esker Siding where he dismantled a huge building and brought it back to Labrador City piece by piece and used it to erect his building in Labrador City. He smiled when he told of some folks who thought he was crazy for such a big effort for the times. Not so much after all.

He and his son Brian have been working as a team since he walked out of school, and has made Brace’s Woodworking a landmark in our community.

Max has, for all of these years, been a helping hand to everyone in our community and represents all that is good in someone who cares about our community and all of the folks in it

At age 83, drop into Brace’s and you will find Max, in his work clothes, usually sawdust on his shirt and a big smile on his face and a project in front of him like so many others. Thanks Max for always being there for so many of us, for so long.

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