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Monday, October 19, 2009

Press Release

Railway Hall of Fame Recognizes the Industry’s Performers  

CALGARY, ALBERTA – A railway leader, heroes, community and modern technology were inducted into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame today in Calgary at the industry’s annual general meeting and tradeshow.

Cliff Mackay, RAC President and CEO, said: “The industry is part of the nation’s present and future, as well as its past.” Canada’s railways transport 75 per cent of surface freight in the country, 68 million passengers annually and generate only three per cent of transport’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Railway Hall of Fame was created in 2002 by the Railway Association of Canada with the support of its 50 member railways, the Canadian Northern Society of Alberta and the Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers. Since then, almost 100 nominees have been inducted on its website at www.railfame.ca.

The 2009 inductees are:

Leader: Major J.L. Charles

The efforts of Major Charles played an important role in shaping the Canadian railway network that we know today. Major Charles was an energetic and driven railroader known for his skills and ability to motivate and complete challenging railway construction projects.

Beginning his career with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Major Charles went on to direct engineering projects and operations on Canadian National, was involved in the construction of both the Hudson Bay Railway line from The Pas north to Churchill, and of the Great Slave Lake Railway from Roma Jct., near Peace River, to Hay River, North West Territories. Both railways remain in service today serving Canada's north. The Hudson Bay Railway is now operated by a regional railway and hosts a VIA Rail passenger service. The former GSLR is part of the CN system.

Heroes Category (Current): Paul D. Roy:

Paul Roy started his railroading career in 1955 working on the track for Canadian Pacific Railway. He also served the Northern Alberta Railway, CN, and the Pacific Great Eastern, later BC Rail, over a 35-year career as a telegraph operator, station agent, train dispatcher and railway officer, retiring as a Train Supervisor at Roberts Bank.

Paul has a keen interest in railroading and started collecting artifacts in 1955 when he was issued a switch key by a CPR roadmaster. He has contributed countless hours of time and talent to various railway preservation projects in British Columbia.

He arranged for the donation of a former BC Rail electric locomotive, used in coal service in northwestern B.C., to the Prince George Railway Museum. At the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, Paul created the ever-popular mini-rail to introduce railways and rail history to a younger generation, and contributed a display car to the park.

Heroes Category (Historical): Joseph Birse

Joseph Birse joined the Grand Trunk Railway in 1858 and became an engineer in 1864. On December 4, 1890 at 0530, he left Montreal's Bonaventure Station with Train No 6, the Toronto Express. A derailment west of the station in the midst of a raging blizzard had delayed the train's departure by almost six hours. Running on the wrong main line track on the time of the Montreal to Lachine local train, the switchman mistook the Express for the Lachine local and threw the switch in front of the train which was diverted on the 1.5 mile long Lachine branch.

Because of the continuing blizzard conditions, neither Birse nor his fireman noticed the error until they passed the station lights near the end of the Lachine wharf. Birse put on the brakes and stayed at his post, slowing the train so that only the locomotive and front end of the baggage car went into the St. Lawrence River. Birse was found dead with his hand on the throttle but the 100 passengers on the
train were saved.

He is buried in the Mont Royal Cemetary in Montreal beneath a headstone which states "accidentally killed at Lachine while in the discharge of his duty as engineer on the GTR December 4th, 1890. Aged 52 years.”

Community: Winnipeg

Winnipeg would have remained a small Prairie village except for the pluck of its citizens. Originally, the Canadian Pacific was to cross the Red River at Selkirk where the river was narrower and the ground less prone to flooding. However, Winnipeggers voted in 1879 to build a $300,000 bridge over the Red River and provide station grounds for the CPR to persuade the Dominion government to shift the crossing and place Winnipeg on the transcontinental line. It also made Winnipeg the terminus for the CPR branch being built from Emerson on the U.S. border.

Two years later, the citizens voted to provide the railway with grounds for freight yards and a perpetual exemption from taxation if the railway made their community a divisional point and site for their railway shops. These actions led to Winnipeg becoming the largest city in the province, the distribution centre for the Prairies and a major target for railway builders.

The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway subsidiary, the Manitoba & Northern Pacific Railway, broke the CPR monopoly when it reached the city in 1888. The acquisition of the M&NP by the Canadian Northern in 1901 laid the groundwork for the expansion of the Canadian Northern into a transcontinental line from Montreal to Vancouver.

The Grand Trunk Pacific made the city its eastern terminus as it built to Prince Rupert, while its sister line, the National Transcontinental Railway, built to Quebec City and Moncton, New Brunswick from Winnipeg. By 1915, Winnipeg was on three transcontinental railways, all of which had their major shops and yards in or near the city.

Modern day Winnipeg remains an important centre for Canada's two transcontinental railways, VIA Rail Canada services and for short line railways such as the Central Manitoba Railway which have operations within the city.

Technology: LED Lighting

The industry has recognized the new Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology that was approved by Transport Canada for use at highway/railway crossings in Canada late in 2003. The lights are visible from a greater distance than their predecessors, and last longer. They enhance crossing safety for both motorists and railroaders.

Contact Information:

Roger Cameron
Railway Association of Canada

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