Thursday, August 27, 2020

Postscript: CN's Portage la Prairie Operators

A key function of railway station agent/operators was the copying and delivery of train orders to train crews. In my previous post, the long service of Portage la Prairie's CN operators was highlighted. I searched through my collection of train orders to see if I had any of the ephemeral work of these men, and lo and behold, I had a few examples! Opr William Wynes copied the clearance for VIA No 90 on June 19. 1981. I railfanned in Portage in August of that year. Opr Bill Cook had copied the top train order, number No 2087 (top photo). Six days later, on the afternoon of his day shift, Opr Wynes copied the clearance for Extra 9174 East:
Opr Bill Cook copied train order No 2087. Here's a clearer view:
The following year, I was at Portage in June, but away from the station on June 12 and 13 weekend. Opr Jack Darling was working and here are the clearance and train orders that VIA No 2 received from him that Sunday:
Heading west from Portage, VIA No 1 took to CP Rail trackage via the CN-CP connecting track at West    Tower - a location known as Shepp. An interesting wrinkle, but not an unusual one, in which a CN operator copies a CP clearance! Opr Bill Cook copied the clearance about half an hour before VIA No 1 made its appearance.
CP's operators in Portage were still working in August, 1984. The previous post noted that CP's operators were finished in July. This 19R belies that date:
Speaking of CP, check out these vintage orders copied by CP Operator Jack Corbett at the height of wartime traffic. On February 10, 1945 a freight was running late on the Minnedosa Sub (this order delivered to trains North):
CP No 2 was operating in two sections, and specific timing was incorporated to get it into Winnipeg in a predictable fashion in just over an hour on December 12, 1944:
The above orders show the excellent writing and typewriting skills needed by operators. So much information to pass along in a short time. And it had to be correct and read-back to be marked Complete! My aunt and uncle from Portage knew Jack Corbett. He was a Mason and referred to my uncle as 'Doc'. He also had a large collection of Lionel trains!

Running extra...

VIA has posted its most recent return-from-shutdown system timetable, effective September 1. Everyone's favourite train, the Canadian, is still slated for return in some form on November 1.

Conventional wisdom not needed for conventions. Having watched the U.S. Democratic and Republican versions in a pandemic era, there is no confetti, sign-hoisting and thankfully no pauses for applause three words into a speech, and every three words therafter. All we can ask is that both sides respect reality. If I dropped out of the sky and was asked to watch each convention separately, I would have a vastly different mind-picture of what America was really like.


Michael said...

It's amazing to see the coordination that was necessary to guide wartime traffic along the route between PLP and Winnipeg. So much to monitor and keep straight in one's mind. Talk about pressure...

Eric said...

Indeed, Michael. Many British Commonwealth Air Training Plan flying training schools were located in the West. Many, like Moose Jaw which is still a Canadian Forces flying training base, experienced the most sunlight per day of anywhere in Canada, thereby maximizing training hours!

Thanks for your comment,