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Industry Achievement
Jim F. Munsey (2008)

Jim Munsey, St. Albert Depot, August 2008

Hero Jim Munsey’s example is proof that once railroading gets “in your blood” – it’s pretty difficult to lose the interest. In 2008, Jim continued to take an interest in the industry, and many weekends visitors to the Alberta Railway Museum in Edmonton can find him “working the key” in the St. Albert station telegraph office, demonstrating the art of Morse telegraphy which has vanished as a mainstream form of communication.

Well-respected by his peers and fellow railroaders, Jim’s career began in the late 1940’s as an assistant agent. Agency work at local railway depots across Canada was the training ground for many railroaders and allowed new entrants to the industry to experience both railway operations and the commercial side of the business by selling services such as express freight, carload shipping, and passenger and steam ship tickets.

Prior to the era of the internet or electronic mail, the railway provided a critical role in long distance communication through its telegraph services where messages, money, and news were all “broadcast over the wire” by way of the railway telegraph network.

In the early days of North American railroading, telegraphy was the primary means of transmitting train orders – written instructions to ensure the safe movement of trains and engines. Learning his craft, Mr. Munsey was promoted and worked in various operational management positions including the position of Regional Safety Manager for the CN Mountain Region during the 1980’s.

Jim’s contribution to the railway industry came in many forms, including re-vamping operating timetables for consistency and for the benefits of train crews who were the primary users. His work with the Morse Telegraphers Club and in-depth knowledge of railway rules and operating practice made him an excellent system resource and educator. It was his experience that helped him develop new and improved operating rules and instructions that enhanced both safety and efficiency. Many are still in use today.

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