To some, the life of a plow truck driver might seem routine and mundane. But to those that have sat in the operator’s seat, they know how important it is to be alert and aware of your surroundings. It was Don McMahon’s attentiveness that allowed him to shine during his 21 years with Dawson Road Maintenance in the Gold Bridge area.

Born and raised in New Westminster, McMahon moved to the Gold Bridge valley in the mid-90s after spending years as a steel fabricator. He was looking for a career change and had some land in the area. In November of 1995, he joined as a seasonal operator (winter season), back when it was Interior Roads Limited. Like most auxiliary employees, he drove logging trucks in the offseason until he got brought on as a full-time Machine Operator in 1998.

“I always enjoyed running equipment. It ran in the family, too. I have uncles and cousins that were truck drivers as well. In Gold Bridge, it was one of the full time jobs that paid really well, so I was thrilled to get brought on full-time,” said McMahon, who retired in 2019.

It didn’t take him too long to understand the importance of paying attention to the environment around him while operating equipment, along with paying attention to what is happening on the road.

“I was the only operator from our Service Area (SA) that ever got struck by an avalanche,” recalled McMahon.

One morning he heard reports that based on recent snowfall and the weather that avalanches could be triggered in the area. Just as he closed the gates at the 50-kilometre mark by the Terzaghi Dam on Road 40, he saw snow coming down the slope. Soon, he was engulfed in powder.

Luckily, McMahon was stationed inside of his 21,000-pound grader and just had to wait it out.

“I turned the machine off but kept the wipers going as the snow was coming over me so I could see what was going on. It was kind of peaceful, actually,” said McMahon. “Once it stopped, I fired up the grader and started pushing snow just like any other day.”

McMahon was gaining experience and soon was under the leadership of Bill Balbirnie, a senior Road Foreman from Lillooet. McMahon took the opportunity to learn as much as he could by 2003 and was promoted to the Road Foreman role for Gold Bridge, a leadership position he held for the next 16 years.

“Bill was such a great teammate to have. He understood how things worked and how to lead a team. If I ever had questions about the job, I went to him and he had the answers. He was always willing to help out,” said McMahon.

The adventures never stopped during his employment, either.

One May Long weekend, several travelers were trapped on Road 40 by Big Horn Creek when a 3,000-millilitre culvert got plugged with rocks and flooded the road. McMahon was one of the many that were tasked with digging out the debris. Then in 2009, fires ripped through SA 16. McMahon attached his sweeper and kept burnt debris off the roads.

“I always liked the idea of being home more with this job than I was when I was hauling logs. It allowed me to enjoy time with my family and horses after work,” said McMahon. “Over the years, I had the good fortune to have a solid crew.”

McMahon talks highly about his experience; one highlight of his was seeing the increase of women in the industry and he wants others to look at road maintenance career options.

Are you looking for new opportunities and a change in lifestyle? Visit