El Contrato: Mexican Migrant Labour in Southern Ontario

I’m too busy to watch this NFB documentary about Mexican migrant labourers in southern Ontario, but Jane’s watching it and it looks sooper interesting:

I used to work the friday night shift at the local office supply store in Collingwood, and for a certain stretch in the summer that’s when the Jamaican orchard pickers would roll into town, looking to buy stuff to take home with them. Cross-cultural perplexity inevitably ensued, good times to be sure. There were also local orchards that employed Mexicans under a similar arrangement, but for some reason they never showed up in towne. More recently, Vantreight farms employed a parallel Mexican migrant crew during daffodil picking season, but they never mingled them with us local pickers.

The particular legal exemptions that allow migrant agricultural workforces in Canada have always seemed murky and more than a little suspect. CBC Victoria once did a decent radio program on the Mexican workers at Vantreight, and the managers there had some reasonably reassuring things to say. I’m really looking forward to watching this doc, eventually.

Daffodil Picking: One of Those Things People Do

So I’m working as a daffodil picker. Before signing up I googled it, and found a rich list of folks who include daffodil picking in their lists of jobs they have had. For example:

Patricia Prime has been a kitchen hand, cook, nurse aide, daffodil picker, juggler, teacher aide, musician, labourer, guitar teacher, fruit-picker, busker, worked with the intellectually handicapped, etc.

Ed Heaver of Wrexham, Wales wants us to know that picking was very similar to chicken catching but smelt nicer.

giveasyouget has worked as a daffodil picker, pasty crimper, cleaner at student halls of residence, galley slave, staff canteen at a geriatric hospital (plenty of smiles there), packing for mail order, frozen prawn packing, sandwich factory and dinnerlady. Gallery slave?

The winner, Stephen J. Lyonshas been employed in nine different states as a tree planter, daffodil picker, dude ranch cook, ice cream vendor, magazine editor, phone solicitor, newspaper reporter, professional tofu maker, grain truck driver, assistant dairy herdsman, and agricultural extension editor. It goes on from there.

I take it people end up picking daffodils sometimes. I take it that’s life. There’s this whole world of work and you go out and do it and sometimes its the work you want to do and sometimes its the work that pays bills. Sometimes it has some recognizable romance, sometimes some filthy glory, and sometimes its daffodil picking. You know what? It sounds like life.

One morning last week it looked like this: