War Veterans Inducted Into Railway Hall of Fame
Francois C. Hebert, Vice-President of Network Strategies for CN and Ron Bilodeau, Vice-President of CPRís Government Affairs inducted CN pensioner Omer Rochon, and CPR pensioner Terry Gilead into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame Tuesday (Dec. 6, 2005) during a meeting of the Canadian Railway Club in Montreal.
The event was in recognition of the service by thousands of railway employees and veterans who helped the allies win the peace during World War Two. Key railway shops were converted to turn out tanks, guns, munitions and ships, in addition to keeping locomotives, freight and passenger cars rolling. The railways set up pilot training schools, and pioneered transatlantic ferrying of bombers to Britain. Almost 43,000 CN and CPR employees enlisted, 1,500 of them were killed in service to their country, and thousands more were injured.
Omer Rochon began his career at CN at the Point St. Charles shops when he was about 19 years old. He started as a tinsmith, and capped off his 37-year career in 1979 as senior foreman at Headquarters, with some 95 employees from all trades under his responsibility - including those who maintained the pipes used for steam heating of Headquarters and the surrounding buildings.
Mr. Rochon was an aircraftsman for three and a half years during the Second World War and, as a member of the Leaside 432 Squadron, flew as a machine-gunner. Following an eye problem that arose when he was based in England, he joined the ground crew in charge of preparing bombing runs. Later, he served as a member of the 417 Squadron, based in Italy.
Terry Gilead left school to join the Army, and worked a few months for CPR as an office boy at Angus, before joining the Army Railway Core. Based initially in England, then in France and later in Belgium, Sergeant Gilead participated in the efforts of the Allies to get the rail network in condition to support the militaryís tasks.
The role of his group consisted of maintaining steam engines, freight cars and the track infrastructure used by the Army. He also worked in marshalling yards, and loading cars. Terry resumed his work with CPR in 1946.
After his apprenticeship at the Angus Shop in Montreal, he successively became foreman, cost analyst and later general supervisor, always at the Angus Shop. He retired in 1985 at the age of 64.
The virtual Hall of Fame was created in 2002 with the support of the RACís 60 freight and passenger railways, communities, museums, corporate sponsors and the public at large to recognize outstanding people, places, events, and industry technology.