When we finished the job at the pipe plant I went and work on a couple of small jobs on new buildings that were being constructed near our shop on MacLeod Trail. One was across the trail, and was called the Oriental Gardens a fancy new restaurant that had a little wooden bridge that crossed over water in a pond full of fish at its entrance. We were working outside and had a ditch, excavated around the building, where we installed weeping tile. Now weeping tile is made from clay and comes in 18-inch lengths with a bore diameter of 6 inches. The tiles were butted up against each other on a slight incline in the ditch towards the storm sewer. Their purpose was to drain water away from a building that would otherwise be susceptible to flooding without it. The next job I remembered working on was a Volkswagen dealership called Pados a block north of our shop. This involved installing soil pipe, and copper piping for the washrooms, and drains for the shop floor. After this I went and worked with one of the rural plumbers who looked after farmers wells and plumbing. Work was getting a little slow at Wright’s so I ended up working in the shop here, I restocked bins with pipe fittings that were returned from jobsites, when the work was finished. One other job I had was whenever a plumber changed a hot water heater. I would go there with a pickup truck, and the two of us would haul out the old hot water heater, and when I had a truckload, I would take them to the city dump. I remember one apartment building where the hot water heater was installed in a pit, it was a big hot water heater, and we had to put ropes underneath it and hoist it straight up out of the pit it took four of us to do this job. One other job I remember was going downtown to the Main Branch of the Bank of Montréal they had a pneumatic delivery system for sending messages and data around the bank Wright’s had the contract for maintaining the system and a journeyman was sent over with an apprentice to do this work. I was once sent over to a restaurant called the Gasthaus, It had a grease trap in its kitchen, and this was a cubic steel box a yard in dimension. All the drains from the kitchens sinks went through this box, and any grease from the dishwashing one end up in it. My job was to unfasten the top of this box and clean out all the accumulated grease that had filled it. This was a pretty gross job, I had to break up this block of fat with a steel pole and shovel out all this rancid grease, that didn’t smell very good. It was jobs like this that made me think that pipefitting would be a better trade than plumbing. At this time, a company called Trotter and Morton was doing most of the work projects in the city of Calgary. So most of the apprentices, including me, who worked in shops that had no work were sent over to work for them.

Trotter and Morton had their shop on Forge Road, and they had just finished pouring the Husky Tower in downtown Calgary on 9th Ave and Center St. where the old CPR station used to be. A four-story Parkade was to be built behind the structure, and I was sent to this work site on the corner of 10th Ave and 1st St West. The first job we had to do was reroute the steam and water lines from the boiler room on 10th Ave to a tunnel that connected to the CPR’s Palliser Hotel on 9th Ave. The boilers in the powerhouse on 10th Ave were very old, the oldest I had ever seen, they were to be taken out of service and a modern Cleaver Brooks packaged boiler was to be installed on the second floor of the Parkade to replace them. The old powerhouse supplied steam heat for the hotel and a laundry that was on 10th Ave. The steam line was 8-inch pipe that was welded together and ran through a ditch dug on 10th Ave, and the 5-inch waterline was to follow the same route to tie them into the tunnel that ran into the Palliser Hotel. The laundry was obsolete and was being torn down. The first job I had was to take lengths of old 5 inch water pipe and cut them off clean with a set of pipe cutters, and ream out any burrs on the inside diameter. We then had to cut a groove into the pipe about 1 inch from the end to be used with a Victaulic Coupling to join the lengths of pipe together. The Victaulic Coupling was a two piece casting that would fit into the grooves on each end of the pipes when two nuts and bolts were tightened to join the two castings together. In the middle of this was a rubber gasket that would seal the two ends of pipe to prevent it from leaking. To cut these grooves, we had a large mechanical groover that was run with a power motor and a drive shaft. The teeth on the groover were about half an inch wide, and we cut the groove about 1/8 of an inch deep. The Parkade itself was being built over the CPR’s four Depot tracks. It was winter, and in order to pour cement the forms were all shrouded in plastic sheeting, and gas heaters were installed to keep the forms heated. My job was to run gas line to the heaters and light them, there was a three-inch gas line set up temporarily on cross bars made of two by sixes that ran the length of the Parkade. There were gas cock’s at 30 foot intervals where I would run the gas from, I would run a 1 inch gas line straight up 40 feet to the shrouding where the cement was to be poured next. I would climb up a ladder to the forms made of 2 by 10′s with the plastic shrouding stapled on underneath here I would put a reducing tee fitting on the 1 inch gas line, reducing it to 3/4″, and run 3/4″ gas pipe along the 2 x 10′s to where the gas heaters were in position. I would then run the 3/4″ gas pipe up to the heater and would then use a reducing elbow to run 1/2″ gas pipe and shut off cock into the heater, which I would then light and test my work for leaks. This would be done with a sense of smell and matches, if there was a bad leak you would smell it otherwise I would light a match and run it around each joint I had made, if there was a leak a small blue flame would appear I would then have to shut off the gas and change fittings or pipe, where necessary. To join these fittings, together I would apply pipe dope (a mixture of powdered lead in linseed oil) to the threads with a brush, and the fittings and pipe were joined together and tightened using to pipe wrenches one to hold the fitting, and the other to tighten the pipe into the fitting. Yes, it was quite an experience to crawl around on this 2 x 10′s looking down to the ground through the plastic, and suddenly a train would run underneath heading west to the mountains, or going east to the yard at Alyth. Another ritual, we observed daily was the arrival and departure of passenger trains that still carried mail, the city of Calgary’s post office was located on the corner of 9th West of the CPR’s Palliser Hotel at the back of the post office was a spur for spotting cars of mail, and daily a postman would drive his tractor and a baggage cart with mail from a ramp on the platform behind the post office down the platform in the Depot to where the passenger trains would arrive. Here he would wait till the incoming train had stopped and he would be in position besides the baggage car, that also carried the mail, here he would exchange his out going mail with the incoming mail for Calgary and would proceed back to the post office with the new mail for sorting.

Photo of Palliser Square Parade looking West from 1St St. E.  Note steam rising from package boiler on the left-hand side of roof.

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