Posted on 11-03-2009
Filed Under (Calgary 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

CPR’s Alyth Classification Yard Calgary, General Yard Office in center foreground, Pillsbury Canada Ltd. Flour Mill on right side of photo

In the spring of 1973 I was looking for employment, a friend of mine had a job as a brakeman with the Canadian Pacific Railway in Calgary, he mentioned that it paid good, and it sounded like the kind of job I would find rewarding, as I liked working on the track mobile switching railway cars at the pipe mill.  So I went to the CPR’s headquarters in downtown Calgary at Palliser Square to inquire about employment, the secretary there said they had hundreds of applications, so I filled out one just in case, but it looked like my prospects were not to encouraging. in early June I was riding my 10 speed bicycle over the Alyth Overpass on Blackfoot Trail, with the purpose of going to the CPR’s office at the Alyth Yard to see if there were any job opportunities there.  I was on the exit ramp en an eccentric looking fellow driving a red Jaguar sports car, pulled up alongside of me, he had red hai a beard, and was wearing a scarf.  He asked me for directions on how to get to the same place I was going, I told them how to get there, but he must got lost as I arrived there before him.  They had built a larger railway yard at Alyth in the summer of 1970, and the Yard office was on the ground floor of a five-story control tower.  I went to the secretary’s office, her name was Liz Dobby and I asked her if they were hiring anybody, she told me to have a seat and fill out an application.  She then took my application, went across the hall to the office of the General Yard Master, she came back and told me to go to his office.  I had an interview.  I introduced myself to the General Yard Master his name was Harold McAfee, he read over your my application, and told me about the working conditions, and qualifications I would have to take to hire on as a switchman (Yardman) in the CPR’s Alyth yard.  I would be required to take a medical from a CPR doctor, take a colorblindness test that was performed by the CPR Stationmaster in Palliser Square, hand write in pencil a “B” book based on the Uniform Code of Operating Rules Revision of 1962, and take 10 student trips with the yard crews on different assignments that worked around the terminal.  On qualifying I would be required to buy a Railway Grade wristwatch or pocket watch.  I then would be able to mark up on the Yardman’s Spareboard and would start out being on call for all of the 70 assignments that worked around the terminal seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I thanked Mr. McAfee and started to make arrangements for my medical, and fill out the other paperwork I was required to do.  Incidentally the fellow I talked to on the overpass was in the office waiting for his interview, his name was Thomas Payne, more about Tom later.

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