Posted on 11-07-2008
Filed Under (Calgary 1960s, Flour Mills, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

The Export side of flour mill with Westbound passenger train “The Canadian”

We also loaded a lot of export flour for Ceylon these were 50 kg jute bags that were provided by the Canadian government for food aid, we loaded 900 bags per boxcar 60 to a row 6 rows of each end of the boxcar and 3 across the middle, there were two of us in the boxcar and we loaded just about three boxcars in an eight hour shift the bags came into the boxcars from the packing room on the second floor of the flour mill via a conveyor belts and down a wooden chute the bags fell down on to our shoulders and you learned to balance the bags upright as the rows in each end were about eight feet high so you had to throw the bags over your head to finish each row, one side effect of carrying these bags against your neck was that at the end of your shift you would have a redneck, and purple ear from the ink that was stenciled on the bags. In order to keep up with the packing machine both men had to move constantly until the first three rows in the car were finished, after that one man could keep up and the other man could take a break which included sealing loaded cars and getting the next car prepared for loading. To prepare a car for loading the floor would be swept and paper from a 7-foot roll of paper would be glued to the wooden walls of the boxcar, and a smaller role of paper was used to cover the floor. The loading platform held six cars on spot when the cars were all loaded, we would have to pull the flour track down to spot up some more empties, to do this I would have to go into the basement of the elevator unloading track and start an enormous electric motor that powered the winch. Backup on ground level, the packer, is helper, and my helper were in position we would pick up the hook end of the 7/8 inch cable and the four of us would pull the cable out 200 feet and hook it on to the under frame of the boxcar, I would then operate the winch by two steel levers, one that would engage the motor with a drum of the winch, and the other lever was like a clutch that would start the cable pulling, I was protected by a steel shield in case the cable ever snapped, the cars were pulled far enough till we had another four cars on spot. While this job was outdoors I always preferred it to working indoors on the packing machines, that job while physically easier it involved two men the senior man was the head packer and one helper the packing machine operated like this the helper had a table beside him with bales of jute sacks he would take a sack off of the table and pull it over a 16 inch tube and step on a foot pedal that clamped the bag to the tube and started an auger that filled the sack with flour. When it was full. It would travel horizontally on a rubber belt conveyor towards the packer where it would stop and lift up on a built-in scale that would weigh it and a dribble of flour from a spout would top up the bag until it was the right weight, it would then travel down the belt to the next station, where the packer would sew the top of the bag shut. The bag would then travel to the end of the conveyor, where it would drop down a chute that would take it to the boxcar.

I remember one funny incident working day shift loading export with a warehouseman named Bill, the flour mill with all the grain and flour dust and its explosive nature had a strict no smoking policy.  They only places smoking was allowed was on the second floor lunchroom, and outside of the building on the loading docks.  There was no smoking allowed in the boxcar’s we loaded, but this rule was often abused, anyways  the day I was working with big Bill he was enjoying a cigarette while loading bags when our shipper Pete a non-smoker came into the boxcar, checking out on how everything was going.  The car was half loaded and he remarked to us do you smell smoke to which I replied no, Bill answered the same, Pete sniffed the air a couple of times shook his head and left the car.  Once he had walked back into the mill, Bill started jumping around and wailing like a mad man he had put his lit cigarette into the back pocket of his overalls where it smoldered away, he must of had a tough time sitting down for a couple of weeks.

(1) Comment   


Peter Ryan on 18 February, 2010 at 7:46 am #

I know the flour export is done by Federation Flour Mills.

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