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Old Time Trains

Train and Yard Crews

Tail-end crews (conductors and brakemen) worked on a District. They worked in a pool with an assigned van (caboose) as their home at the Away From Home terminal. Spareboards were also used for conductors and brakemen (trainmen) to replace regular pool or assigned men. Assignments worked with a regular crew on passenger trains, and on local jobs such as way freights, road switchers etc. Until 1927 passenger men (conductors and trainmen) were separate seniority.

Yardmen a.k.a. switchmen or ground crews, (yard foremen and helpers) worked in major terminals such as Toronto Terminal, London and Windsor. In Toronto there were once two separate seniority areas, one for Lambton/West Toronto and another for John Street, King Street and Parkdale. These were later combined to include all of the Toronto Terminal. Smaller yards such as Peterboro and Woodstock used road men.

District 1 Trenton Division: Home terminal Lambton Yard (later, Toronto Yard) Men were entitled to all work beyond Leaside to Trenton or Havelock. Also, Havelock to Port Mc.Nicoll. Following abandonment of the line between Lindsay and Orillia, District 1 men retained rights to the work on the remaining part of the line. Trains operated on the Mac Tier Sub. with District 3 men. This was handled by keeping track of that work and every summer a District 3 van crew was added to pool to balance the work.

District 3 Bruce Division: Home terminal Lambton Yard (later, Toronto Yard). Men were entitled to all work north of the Diamond to MacTier and between Obico and Hamilton. Also, between Streetsville and Owen Sound including all branches. Many of these crews were assigned to Out of Town jobs based at Port Mc.Nicoll, Orangeville, etc.

Industrial Yards worked outside the yard within switching limits; they were paid at yard rates due to the amount of switching done but, were manned by road crews. For many decades union rules separated yard and road men into separate seniority groups that restricted where they could work. Eventually, these were combined. Such jobs included, for the District 1 men working out of Lambton, the Leaside and Scarboro Industrials. District 3; Emery, Obico and Canpa Industrials.

District x London Division: Home Terminal; London. Away From Home Terminals; Lambton (later, Toronto Yard), Windsor, Goderich. Yardmen; London, Windsor, Chatham and Goderich. Men worked all jobs between London and Windsor, London and Lambton Obico west wye switch (later, Toronto Yard), Hamilton and Goderich as well as all branches out of Woodstock. They also worked what was known as the "London through runs" in passenger service between Toronto Union and Windsor/Detroit.

London men worked the Cooksville Turn and the Stone Train, later these became classified as Industrial Yards and later still, Road Switchers which worked a 30 mile limit from their on-duty point rather than the Outer Main Track Switch. These were Out of Town assignments working at Lambton. The Streetsville job was once known as the Stone Train, and at one time around 1950, originated at Guelph Junction. It got its name from a stone quarry that was located where the Kelso Conservation lake is near Milton.

Head-end crews (engineers and firemen) had District-wide seniority in both yard and road. They also worked in Pools for road work and yard assignments and on various spareboards for road and yard work as well as assist engines. Firemen worked as hostlers at major roundhouses such as Lambton and John Street.

For many decades road crews consisted of a conductor and two brakemen on freight trains, a conductor and two trainmen on passenger, one of which could be designated as a baggageman, the other trainman acted as flagman. An assistant conductor was added on very busy trains, sometimes assigned, but often unassigned and called as needed. Baggagemen jobs were sometimes reserved for men who had been restricted due to injury.

Yard crews consisted of yard foreman and two yardmen (helpers) one known as the field man and the junior man, the engine follower or "pin boy." In the Toronto Terminals the King Street Shed jobs and the Leaside Local had a fourth yardman to handle the work. Parkdale had an extra yardman known as a Rider to assist the Lead crew on afternoons and nights on account of the necessity to ride all cars and apply hand brakes due to the fact the main yard was all on a downgrade. Yardmen also worked at Lambton and West Toronto, one per yard, per shift, as utility men a.k.a. "marker up" (See: Chalk it Up!) and as switchtenders, again one per yard, per shift. These later jobs were reserved for injured switchmen, having separate seniority and being restricted to this work. Other yardmen could take leftover and spare work.

Engine crews consisted of an engineer and a fireman in all cases including assist and yard engines. They also worked in various pools or spareboards as well as road or yard assignments. They stayed in bunkhouses at their away-from-home terminal.

Crew Calling

Calling crews to duty, known as crew dispatching on other railways, was done by clerks, assisted by call boys. In Lambton Yard, a crew clerk and a call boy on each shift were located in a tiny office in the yard office. Here tail-end and ground crews (yardmen) could talk with the crew clerk and view a large blackboard of trains ordered which was kept up-to-date by the call boy. Another crew clerk worked at the shop in the Locomotive Dept. office building handling head-end crews. The call boy would call/wakeup engine crews in the bunkhouse located next to the shop tracks and then walk up to the van alley to call the tail-end crew sleeping in their van. He was also required to go to the homes of unassigned men if they lived within a one mile radius, a bicycle was handy for this this but, the railway didn't supply it! Telephones eventually replaced most of this although it remained an entitlement until Toronto Yard opened. A clerk at John Street roundhouse handled crews as well as engine dispatching and other duties as did a clerk at John Street yard office.

The Central Calling Bureau, referred to as the Calling Bureau, was created in late 1956 to consolidate crew calling in one location, upstairs at West Toronto Depot where it displaced the CPR Recreation Club. The clerks at John Street continued to handle orders for men when they booked off relaying them to the Calling Bureau. At Lambton roundhouse the clerks booked crews back to the Calling Bureau after they went off duty but, did not take orders for men. In other words men had to book off directly with the crew clerk.

Eventually, crew calling was concentrated in Montreal in the 1990's for all of Canada and then relocated to Calgary. Train dispatching was concentrated in Calgary following relocation of system Headquarters to there except that eastern dispatching was located in Montreal. This remains the present situation.



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