Posted on 02-06-2008
Filed Under (Calgary 1960s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades, Uncategorized) by Broken Rail

The above photograph shows the Ogden Shops complex the Locomotive Shop is the long building running horizontally in the foreground.

It was now November, and winter had set in, I decided to try to get an apprenticeship at the CPR’s Ogden shops. To do this, you had to go to the main gate and talk to the CPR Police officer on duty, he would give you permission to go down to the apprentice classroom in the Locomotive Shop. You then walked down the ramp, passing the administration office, and stores department and enter the Locomotive Shop through a doorway on the northwest corner of the building. You were now at, the West End of the blacksmiths shop, and it was quite a contrast from the winter weather outside, to walk through this department with its men and machinery that looked like they came out of the last century, at least it was nice and warm with all of their blacksmith’s fires. The apprentice school was up above a fan room that circulated heat through that quarter of the shop. The apprentice room teacher was Austin Case, and he gave you an exam on mathematics and physics to see your proficiency in these topics. If you passed the exam, which I did, you were then sent to the main administration office to get the paperwork you needed before you could start working. This included taking a medical, and seeing that I was 16 years old. I had to get and indenture document signed by my parents to enter an apprenticeship. The most popular trades, offered at Ogden were Machinist, Diesel Mechanic and Electrician these were all filled, there was vacancies in the other trades of Boilermaker, Blacksmith, Pipefitter, Sheet Metal Worker, and Carman. I decided to become a sheet metal worker or tinsmith apprentice. I would be working in a main Locomotive Shop which was a huge building with all the trades mentioned except Carmen who worked in the No.1 Car Repair Shop where boxcars, gondolas, flatcars and other freight rolling stock were fixed, and the No.2 Coach Shop were passenger cars were refurbished and repaired. My first day of work I met my Foreman Ed Barraclogh a gray-haired gentleman with glasses who wore a gray suit and hat he made me feel welcome and I was assigned to a journeyman named John, who was my mate. John was from Rhodesia where he had worked for the railway there. This shop complex was built in 1913 to overhaul steam locomotives, the last steam engine out shopped from here was in 1957, since then, diesel locomotives were overhauled. The tinsmiths duties with the locomotives were to look after, all sheet-metal in the cabs of the locomotives, and the grillwork on the sides of passenger locomotives, repair radiators, and any other sheet-metal work on the locomotives, we also did all the stainless steel sheet metal work on Dayliners that were involved in collisions. We also did it a lot of work for the stores department, making toolboxes, traction motors shims, funnels and oil cans. Our other duties involved maintenance of the shop buildings, and insulating pipes, this goes back to the steam era when tinsmiths insulated the boilers of steam engines with asbestos lagging, and maintained the outer sheet-metal jacket of the engine. I will write more tomorrow on the history of the shops.

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