The Trials and Jubilations of Working in the Rubber Industry: Rubber Worker Stories



Photo from 2020 of Uniroyal on Strange St. in Kitchener, Ontario
Former Uniroyal rubber plant on Strange St. in Kitchener. Photo taken 2020.

Both my grandparents worked in the rubber industry in Waterloo Region. My grandmother worked in the canteen at the Uniroyal plant on Strange Street, and my grandfather worked the line there. When I began Between Worlds, a historical/contemporary series that takes place in Kitchener, I knew I wanted to incorporate Waterloo Region’s rubber worker stories into the series. Thanks to a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund, I can move ahead with my plans. Would you like to participate?

What is this rubber industry project about?

Trials and Jubilations of Working in the Rubber Industry is a small interview project to help me write novels that authentically incorporate stories about the Waterloo Region rubber industry. I’m looking for up to 10 people who worked at a rubber factory in Waterloo Region and would be willing to speak to me for about an hour. All interviews will be conducted by phone or virtual conferencing software (e.g., Zoom or Skype). The intake period is open until October 31, 2020, or until I reach 10 participants.

What kinds of questions will you ask about my years as a rubber worker?

First, I’ll get the basics from you: name, address, phone number. This is so I can stay in touch with you. You won’t be added to any mailing list.

I’ll ask about your job duties, any funny or important events that you remember and don’t mind sharing, what tasks/results made you proud of your work, and how your job affected your outside-of-work life.

I will not ask about your health or any legal matters concerning it. However, if getting the word out about the negative effects of working in the rubber industry is important to you, I’m happy to talk about it.

How long will the interview take?

We’ll spend anywhere between 45 and 75 minutes on the phone talking about your years of dedication in the Waterloo Region rubber industry. If you wish to share more afterwards, we can schedule a second call. But 45-75 minutes will be enough for most people.

I have a mild form of epilepsy and therefore prefer to record the interviews. However, I can take notes if that’s preferred. I’m happy to do whatever makes you the most comfortable. Just be warned that if you’d rather I take notes, you’ll hear a lot of clickety-clack from my keyboard in the background.

What will happen with my interview and the information in it?

Recorded interviews

I’ll produce a transcript of our interview afterwards by uploading it to for automatic transcription and then editing it myself. I’ll send you a copy of the transcript for your review and if you’d like anything changed, you can let me know.

Written-down interviews

I’ll write up my notes into something more comprehensible after our call and send it to you for your review. You can correct any errors that have crept in.

After you’ve approved the information in your interview

I’ll produce a series of blog posts based on the information shared with me in the interviews. These blog posts will help tell more people about the rubber industry in Waterloo Region and may be referred back to in a future teacher’s guide for the book itself. They’ll be published on this website.

The information I learn from these interviews will then be incorporated into my novel, Between Worlds 8: Fathers. I may also use it for subsequent novels.

This rubber industry project sounds interesting, but I’m concerned about privacy.

At the end of your interview, I’ll ask you for a name I can use to refer to you in my work (book, blog posts, marketing). This will keep your identity hidden from the public. I’ll use this name in the transcript and my notes.

At the end of my rubber industry project, I will ask you if you’d like me to destroy the recording. I will keep the transcripts and my notes indefinitely, but I’ll replace your name with the one you’ve chosen. The only instance of your real name will be in one file where I need to keep a list of contact information and the chosen pseudonym for legal purposes.

Will you turn me into a character?

No. I don’t use actual people for characters. I’ll use the information from your interview and the others I conduct to either supplement current characters or create new ones involved in the rubber industry that fit the story I want to tell.

What do I get for helping?

You’ll receive a free, signed copy of the book once it’s published, in the spring of 2021. I can provide you with a copy in either regular print or large print or as an ebook.

I’m a former rubber worker and would like to participate in your project. What are the next steps?

Call or email me. I’d like to speak with you on the phone first for a few minutes to make sure the project is clear, and then we’ll set a time for the actual interview.

Logo of the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund
This project is supported in part by the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund

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