Thursday, December 16, 2004
Induction of Ron Lawless, Former President and CEO of CN into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame
Remarks by Rob Ritchie, President and CEO, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Chairman of the Board, Railway Association of Canada.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure today to introduce a great Canadian railroader, and an even greater pleasure to induct Ron Lawless, on behalf of the industry, into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame.
It is especially fitting before this audience at the very historic Canadian Railway Club in Montreal.
The Canadian Railway Hall of Fame was created in 2002, to honour our railroad leaders and heroes, their machines and their communities.
It is very, very Canadian that this initiative was taken after a century of performance so everyone could be sure the people involved, the products they developed, and the communities they created, would be there for the long haul.
Nevertheless, the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame has proven to be an excellent opportunity to inform Canadians, particularly young Canadians, what the freight and passenger railways have done, and are doing to reduce highway and airport congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Briefly, they originate 6.3 million carloads and containers of freight, and move almost 57 million people, every year in Canada!
Another beauty of this initiative is that it is a virtual Hall of Fame — a product of modern, web-based communications technology. As a result, everyone can visit, and participate. The public can, and does, nominate candidates as Leaders, Heroes, Communities and Technologies.
Inductees have included the late, great Canadian author and media personality Pierre Berton, and Canadian songwriter and singer Gordon Lightfoot. Both have had a significant influence on promotion of the Canadian railway industry.
Heroes have included two outstanding Montreal individuals Roger Cyr and Ben Lévesque who founded the public safety program Operation Lifesaver in Canada in 1981 and helped reduce crossing collisions and trespasser incidents significantly.
AirChime of Langley, B.C. — a world class developer and manufacturer of locomotive horns, and other warning devices — was recently selected to the Railway Hall of Fame in the modern technology category.
Several communities have already been chosen. They include Banff, which started as a modest railway station stop and became an international tourist attraction and birthplace of the Canadian parks system.
The RAC facilitates the work of the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame. The RAC’s 60 member railways — virtually all the freight and passenger operations in Canada today — are as important to Canada’s future economic and environmental needs as they were to the nation’s creation and development.
Personally, I find that reassuring because I was just thinking about all the Hall of Famers I know, and have worked with. Ron Lawless too has been part of Canada’s rail heritage, and like its railways, successfully re-invented himself along the way.
Ron led the team that introduced domestic and, later, international containerization to CN and its freight customers. He successfully prepared the railway for privatization in the mid-nineties.
Today, intermodal transport is the North American railroad industry’s biggest single commodity, and is its fastest growing traffic segment.
Ron’s railway career spanned 52 years. He remains active in the community as President and Chairman of the Board of the Old Brewery Mission — which has been caring for the Montreal community’s destitute since 1889.
He is also past-president of VIA Rail Canada and of Bishop’s University, and is a Governor Emeritus of Concordia University. Ron remains a very competitive golfer, who still loves to win.
Ron Lawless is one of the best living examples I know of a professional railroader, and an outstanding member of his many communities of interest.
It gives me great pleasure to induct Ron Lawless into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame.