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Big Al Of 'Yukon Gold' Talks Success, Setbacks And Swearing

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Big Al and his crew on 'Yukon Gold.' | Shaw Media

Everyone dreams about it -- digging for gold and striking it rich. Now you can watch some people actually try it.

"Yukon Gold" follows four gold mining crews as they attempt to hit it big in Canada's north. "Big" Al McGregor is a newcomer to the occupation, but he's not going to let that slow him down. In the first episode, he maintains his optimism and determination even in the face of constant equipment breakdowns.

HuffPost TV Canada caught up with the Albertan to talk about his first season mining for gold, the inevitable setbacks and his penchant for swearing.

So you’re from Alberta, right?
Born and raised.

I’m also from the prairies! I’m from Saskatchewan.
Right on! What drew you down here?

I go to school here at Ryerson and I wanted to go to a big city.
Big city’s overrated.

Have you done anything fun in Toronto, or just interviews?
No, no, these are slave drivers.

Tell me about your job on the oil fields. Why did you leave and why did you go into gold mining?
I’ve been in the oil patch most of my life. I was looking for something … I like a challenge, love a challenge, and gold mining became a dream through various circumstances, and just … go for it. Gotta go for it.

You’re the rookie on the show. How's that been for you?
I am the rookie. It’s a good way to cover up my screw-ups. [Laughs] I’m just starting out and it’s been a lot of fun. It’ll be interesting to see it develop over the show’s period. I was fairly hesitant to join the show at first, but I signed on.

In all the publicity, your crew is described as the wackiest mining crew. What do you think of that?
Well, I’ve got quite an eclectic bunch there. Eric is the old hippie, Jeremy, he’s the young hippie, and then we have Rebecca, and then we’ve got Mike and Jim -- they’re from the oil patch as well -- and my right-hand man, Hiro. He’s straight from Japan and has a little trouble with his English sometimes, and his wife is cooking for us.

What kind of stuff do you eat?
Having known the oil patch, I make sure our food is right up, it’s almost gourmet. But solid gourmet food, not like, sushi.

The first episode is pretty much you dealing with your equipment breaking down.
That’s the bane of everybody up there. You know, this equipment gets used hard. Most of that ground is frozen solid. Permafrost, it’s extra hard and frozen … and this equipment takes quite a beating. If you notice, a lot of guys are running older equipment. You can’t afford new stuff. You gotta keep it running, and it gets very frustrating at times, but you know, there’s always a reward in it when you get something back up. You feel rewarded. You get back at ‘er. And it always breaks down at the worst possible moment. It’s Murphy’s Law.

How do you deal with being away from your family?
That, for me, was the tough one. My wife, Colleen, wasn’t able to come up last year -- just for a short visit. We’re actually really hoping to turn that around next year. Certain things have developed, and if they pan out she’ll be out there full-time with me.

How long do you think you’re going to be gold mining?
At least 10 years. This is my dream. So tell me, when do you tire of a dream? Probably never. I’ll eventually be getting a little too old and want to do other things in my life, but there’s lots of options. And that too, if you get a good crew you can be away for a bit.

On the show, you swear a lot. Did the production company have a problem with that?
I don’t know. They haven’t said anything. That’s the way I am. I've had to keep it pretty clean today so far. [Laughs]

What was your biggest haul this season?
I’ve been directed to tell you that you’ll have to watch the show.

Can you give me any insider things on what’s going to happen this season on the show?
I guess I’d better be careful, huh? No, it was a real season of trial and tribulation.


You can catch the "Yukon Gold" Tuesday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET on The History Channel.

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