Posted on 26-10-2008
Filed Under (Calgary 1960s, Flour Mills, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

One of the better warehouse jobs was working on the flour truck that delivered to the local bakeries in the city of Calgary. DR (Dennis) Giles owned the truck and trailer, and two warehousemen accompanied the driver to unload the deliveries. One big contract was Weston Bakeries, that was located in a brick building near the Calgary Stampede Grounds they would require seven deliveries. A week six loads of white flour, and one load of whole-wheat flour. The loads were stacks of 100 pound paper sacks that were wheeled into the trailer and dumped three a cross for a total of 18 bags to a row (to make a dump of flour a wheeler was stacked one bag vertical and five bags alternatively moved though many horizontal, it was done this way so the flour could be moved again by sliding the tip of the wheeler under the vertical bag and pulling back on the horizontal bags the flour could be moved again without re-stacking), this was done 14 times for a total of 252 bags, the order required 250 bags, the extra two bags were in case of breakage. We drove down to the bakery in the morning after loading the truck, usually stopping along the way for breakfast at either the Cardinal Grill, or the Shamrock Café. When we arrived at the bakery the truck was backed up to an unloading door with a metal chute that ran down into the basement, a hardwood wooden plank 2 feet wide was positioned on the edge of the trailer to connect with the metal chute to the basement. Two of us would go down into the basement, and the driver would send the bags down the chute to us In the basement. The metal chute, flattened out, and the bags that were about 32 inches long, could be turned and stacked on wooden pallets provided by the bakery. We would put eight layers of the three that were interlocked, and one bag on top to make 25 bags to a pallet. We repeated this 10 times, and the truck would be unloaded. When each pallet was loaded, one of us moved to would take the load away with a pallet jack and store it in rows down in the basement that was used for flour storage only, while the other would keep loading a new pallet.

When we returned to the mill after unloading Weston’s flour, there would be other orders to be loaded and delivered to other bakeries around the city. They would usually take about 50 bags of flour, cake, and doughnut mixes that packed in 50 pound bags, some of the bakeries we delivered to were the City, Italian Supermarket, Sweet Home, Dad’s Cookies, Mrs. Willman’s, Sam’s Bakery, the Grand Café, Bowness Bakery, Four-Star Lakeview, Honeyboy’s and McDonald’s Consolidated who is the warehouse for Safeway’s. Safeways ordered 50 pound bags of Safeway Bread Flour that we packaged for them, and once a month we would deliver an order there usually early Friday morning, there would be dozens of trucks lined up to be unloaded, and to get the receiver to unload the pallets that we stacked their flour on took a little bribery. One of us would get his car keys and take a bag of flour and put it in his trunk. Then we were prioritized for unloading, and were out of there in less than two hours. This was approved, and saved us a lot of time in waiting to be unloaded. I remember delivering to the Grand Café it was in a back alley behind the Greyhound depot. We had to back the truck in from 1st St West to the receiving door, where there was a freight elevator that we placed the bags in and send them to the basement to unload. They ordered 50-hundred weights, and we had to carry these by hand through a narrow doorway and stack the bags in a pile that ended up 2 feet over our heads, this is where learning how to balance a bag on your shoulders really paid off, you could pick up a bag from the floor and stand it vertically on your shoulder and with that advantage throw a bag upon the top of the pile.

It was are great job getting away from the drudgery of working on the warehouse floor, and the chance to get out into the fresh air in the summer. I remember one summer day on a Friday we had a load for Sam’s Bakery, the driver was a frail looking older man named Harold, who we nick named “Popeye” we finished on loading the bakery was located west of the Marda Theatre in an old Dominion Supermarket we had finished and the other warehousemen Brad Snow and I were looking forward to a weekend off, anyways Popeye drove the truck over the Glenmore Trail Causeway, where he ran out of gas, boy were we upset, he coasted op over the Causeway and we have a green traffic light and started coasting downhill towards Elbow Drive where we once again had the traffic light in our favor, and were able to coast to a gas pump at the service station that was located at that intersection, the gas jockey ran out anticipating a big sale, Popeye said $10 please, and we were on our way home. Sometimes, we had to pick up loads for the warehouse, we would go to Maple Leaf Males over by the Calgary Brewery and pickup bags of oatmeal for distribution, Maple Leaf was Calgary’s oldest flour mill, and it’s warehouse was not heated, a cold place to work in the winter compared to our mill that was steam heated . We would also pick up trailer loads of empty paper bags for backing flour into, these bags were stored in the warehouse’s basement and hoisted up to the third floor packing machines when required In the warehouse we wore overalls they were comfortable in the summer, and added insulation in the winter, the packers and millers wore whites (white shirts and pants) as they worked inside all the time. These were changed every week and provided by a service called Canadian Linen, we also all wore black peaked hat’s (like painters caps) that were supplied by Bonar and Bemis our bag manufacturer, and were very comfortable to wear. These were the days before safety boots, glasses, and hard hats.

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