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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Press Release

2003 Inductees to Railway Hall of Fame Announced  

Historical and contemporary railway industry leaders, singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, communities, tunnels and bridges where the steel wheels roll have been selected for induction in this year’s Canadian Railway Hall of Fame.

The annual Industry Achievement Award will go to Serge Belzile who recently retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Quebec Railway Corporation. He grew it from one small short line in the Charlevoix Region of Quebec to a major regional railway in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Gordon Lightfoot, whose Canadian Railroad Trilogy fired the imagination of a generation, will receive the Hall of Fame’s Special Award this year. The original ballad tells the tale of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and is one of 400 songs that he’s written and recorded, said Bill Rowat, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada.

Public nominations are made in four categories: Leaders, Heroes, Communities and Technologies, through the Internet, and an annual selection process, said Les Kozma, Chair of the virtual Hall of Fame. The project originated with the Canadian Northern Society, a registered charity incorporated in Alberta and based in Big Valley. It has been implemented with the support of the RAC’s 60 freight and passenger railways, communities, museums, corporate sponsors and the public at large.

Other 2003 inductees are:

Ross A. Walker – During his 47-year career with CN, Mr. Walker displayed leadership abilities that encompassed all facets of the railway’s growing business between western Canada and the Pacific Rim. He oversaw infrastructure expansion, including enlargement of CN’s mountain tunnels to accommodate double-stacked containers, changes in the grain industry, growth in coal traffic and tapped other natural resources. He did it while developing an organizational structure aligned with the needs of western Canada shippers, and by maintaining close contact with customers, unions, business and community leaders. He retired as Senior Vice-President for Western Canada.

John R. Booth – The lumber baron created the Canada Atlantic Railway to open up the timber wealth of the Ottawa Valley and Algonquin Park. The line connected the Great Lakes with the Vermont border, and became an important link in the grain trade to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. The railway provided first class passenger service from the Ottawa Valley to Montreal, Boston and New York City, and pioneered the use of such advanced technology for its day as air brakes, electric lights, steam heating and high-speed steam locomotives.

Donald A. Smith, Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal is immortalized in what Canadian Historian Pierre Berton referred to as “The Great Canadian Photograph.” that cool November morning in 1885 at Craigellachie, BC when Smith drove the ceremonial last spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway and linked the young nation from sea to shining sea with steel rails.

His experience with HBC on the east coast of Labrador convinced him that the nation’s future prosperity would be tied to settling central Canada and the Prairies. Smith, his cousin George Stephen, President of the CPR from 1881 to 1888 and James J. Hill were part of the original CPR Syndicate. Their experience with the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway demonstrated how vitally important railways were in opening the American west. Smith became a major CPR shareholder and a Director of the company after 1883.

He was knighted in 1886 in honour of his executive role in the development of the CPR, and was created Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal. In 1889, he was elected Chancellor of McGill University in Montreal.


Harold H. Flemmer worked almost 50 years for CPR, mostly in track maintenance. He supervised construction of the Alyth automated hump yard in Calgary, created training material for the railway based on his field experience, was promoted Supervisor, Maintenance of Way, then Manager of track programs for Heavy Haul Canada. He never missed a day of work to illness in 49 years and three months. He chronicled his experience, after retirement, with a book, Memories – Childhood Reflections of Farming During the Great Depression and Fifty Years of Railroading.

Fred Sloman devoted 39 years of his life to teaching on board CN’s School on Wheels car, from 1926 to 1965. He taught children of railway workers who lived along the track in northern Ontario, recent immigrants and Cree. Each evening, Fred and his wife gave informal classes in English, reading, writing, healthcare and social skills to their young students’ parents, ran movies and organized entertainment for the small communities.

Seth Partridge, a CPR engine service employee, noticed a landslide beginning on the mountain above Yoho, B.C. during the night of Aug. 9, 1925. He left his locomotive, scrambled down the mountainside and woke fellow railroaders in time to get them to safety before the slide roared through town. Partridge Siding was named in his honour.


Revelstoke, BC – The community has been closely linked to the history of the CPR for more than 100 years. Home to one of the few double divisions on the system (Shuswap and Mountain), Revelstoke is close to the site where the last spike was driven to complete construction of the CPR transcontinental railway. The history of rail, and its role in the region’s economy, is celebrated at the Revelstoke Railway Museum. The Museum opened its doors to the public in 1993 and has already attracted more than a quarter of a million visitors.

Hornepayne, ON is a classic northern Ontario railway town that owes its existence to Canada's second transcontinental railway. The Canadian Northern selected this location as a divisional point on their main line in the early part of the century and remains an active railway centre on CN's main line through northern Ontario today.

Transcona, Manitoba - Locomotives, cars, and other railway components have been manufactured, maintained, and repaired at the storied shops located just east of Winnipeg since the turn of the century.

Transcona continues to play an important role in CN's North American rail network, and is home to the railway’s heavy repair shops for both freight cars and locomotives, as well as a major wheel shop to meet shippers’ demands for safe and reliable rail transportation throughout North America.


The Ocean Limited will become the longest running, regularly-scheduled, named passenger train in Canadian history on July 2, 2004. The “Ocean” began service in 1904 as a summer replacement for the former Intercolonial Railway’s Maritime Express. Its name was chosen by public competition. The Ocean operates between Montreal and Halifax, serving dozens of communities in between.

Quebec Railway Bridge is a splendid example of Canadian railway engineering that continues to play an important role in moving Canadian National freight and VIA Rail passenger trains across the mighty St. Lawrence River, connecting Quebec City with the south shore and the Maritimes.

Rising some 150 feet above the St. Lawrence River, the Quebec Bridge measures 3,238 feet long. Its cantilever span is the longest in the world. The National Transcontinental Railway, later part of the Canadian National Railways family, crossed the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City and completed its Moncton to Winnipeg main line after two collapses, at a cost of some $22 million, and tragically, the loss of nearly 100 lives.

Mount MacDonald Tunnel, on CPR's Mountain Subdivision main line, was completed in the late 1980's as an example of railway ingenuity. The tunnel has allowed CPR to maintain competitive and cost effective rail service through a very challenging area of western Canada, and tame the mountain grades in the vicinity of the famed Rogers Pass.

Further information is available on the Railway Association’s web site at www.railcan.ca

Contact Information:

Les Kozma
Canadian Railway Hall of fame

Roger Cameron
Director, Public Affairs
Railway Association of Canada
Tel. 613-564-8097 Fax. 613-567-6726

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