Posted on 13-11-2010
Filed Under (Alberta Saskatchewan 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

The alarm rang at 4 AM this Friday morning; we wanted to get a good early start, as it was to be a short day so we could get home for the weekend. After breakfast we went down to McNeill and gave them a final switch for the week, assembled the loads of brought them up to Burstall we marshalled our train and proceeded northward to Leader, when we arrived the operator have orders ready and departed for Swift Current at 10:00 cleared as an Extra South we arrived about 13:20 at Swift Current. We called the operator and ask him for yarding instructions, he gave us permission to cross over into the yard from Java, and gave us a track to yard in, we yarded our train, I secured the head end with sufficient hand brakes, cut off or power and ran around our train through a clear track in the yard, tied on to the caboose, and we put it away to the caboose track for the weekend. With this done we were off duty at 14:10. Harold had his truck and drove home to Lethbridge, the rest of us would deadhead home to Medicine Hat, and in Charlie’s case to Calgary on a freight. With a little luck we could catch No. 949 that was scheduled to leave South Current 13:05, if he was running a little late and would be back in Medicine Hat about 17:00, otherwise we would have to wait for No. 901 that was scheduled for 19:05 which would get us home around 2215. Unfortunately No. 949 had already been hard, so we had to cool our heels at the bunkhouse and wait for No. 901, who was running on schedule
.Map of Burstall & Empress Subdivisions

A map from 1924 showing Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevators from Fox Valley to Leader on the Burstall Subdivision, and from Empress towards Swift Current on the Empress Subdivision, visible on the bottom are elevators on the Maple Creek Subdivision west of Swift Current some of the other big elevator companies were Pioneer, United Grain Growers, and Parrish & Heimbecker

During the week working the head end with Pat Hay, I got to know him pretty well; he was big in stature, and soft-spoken, with a good sense of humour. He carried a portable transistor radio with him and loved to listen to Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things” he used to get a real chuckle out of that program. Pat had hired on with the CPR on December 15, 1947 in Medicine Hat in the shops as a wiper, he was promoted to the firemen’s seniority list on October 18, 1948 he had worked out of Empress in the 1950s when it was a busy terminal, otherwise most of his career he worked out of Medicine Hat. In conversation I mentioned my problem finding living accommodations in Medicine Hat; he asked me if I was a partier, which I replied no. In that case he said that he had a basement suite in his house that was seven blocks north of the CPR station, and if I wanted to look at it he invited me over Sunday afternoon for supper, and a chance to see what I thought of it. We arrived back in Medicine Hat and I checked back into my room in the Assiniboia Hotel and took it easy on Saturday, relaxing after all the long hours we worked through the week at Burstall, on Sunday afternoon I walked over to Pats place at 1104 Ross St. it was a nice framed house on the corner of the street in a quiet older residential district. He invited me in and I met his wife Bertha, a nice lady who was from Ogden her maiden name being Featherstone, a family that owned the general store there that I lived near back in 1967. We enjoyed a supper of roast duck, Pat was quite an avid bird hunter, along with some of his homemade wine, and this was a lot better than eating out of the restaurant in the hotel I lived in. After supper he showed me the suite downstairs in the basement, it was nice with the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom with a shower, and also had a washing machine and dryer, as far as a telephone there was one that you could receive your calls from the CPR, but you could not phone out, this was okay with me as I had nobody to phone anyways. He asked me what I thought, I said I would be interested and asked him the price he said $30, and I thought to myself $30 a week what a bargain and I readily accepted, offering him $120 for the first month, to which he replied no, no the rent is $30 a month, what a bargain. I couldn’t have found anything better, I could walk to work in 10 minutes, and was close to downtown for shopping, and there were a couple of corner grocery stores within a couple of blocks. So Sunday evening I checked out of the Assiniboina Hotel for the last time, I got them to hold my suitcase until I return from Burstall next Friday when I would make my move.

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