“The length of trains. Nowhere in the world I saw it before, Gleb.”
Watch video:CPR train, downtown Calgary, 2007
“Did you count how many cars in that train, my friend?”
“No, but it’s a lot.”
The greatest historic news of the day: the Ogden shops are closing-locomotives and rail cars will no longer be overhauled and rebuilt at the facility. The shops employed more than 1,400 men in the early part of the century. During both wars Ogden shops became a munition factory, manufacturing heavy naval guns. The Ogden site was considered one of the most important elements in Calgary’s economic development prior to the 1945 oil boom.
Watch video:Song “Legends of the Rail”
Ken: When we were younger and life was better. Do you hear about the latest news of Ogden’s closing?
Jim(1): Sure. They are moving to the Alyth yard. Quieter will be for residents around Ogden area, won’t it?
Ken (2): Certainly. What about our buddies, workers?
2: I know that Canadian Pacific has been contracting out operation at Ogden to Paris-based Alstom SA, a builder of locomotives, high-speed trains and ships, for the past decade.
1: Yes. Ogden is the last of the CPR’s “back shops”. Sites in Montreal and Winnipeg have already re-purposed.
2: Why does it happen?
1: That’s because as locomotives become more complicated, companies that build them essentially send out the new parts if there is a problem. As well, the company leases out a number of its rail cars.
Watch video: “CPR Switching the Locomotive from Ogden to Alyth”
1: Ya-ah. Yards such as Alyth are considered “running shops’, which means they do more minor repairs. How time is flying so quickly!
2: Oh,yes. I remember, it was in media, while the CPR had initially considered building the yard in Medicine Hat because of the low cost of natural gas, Calgary’s location, a promise to build a streetcar line to the facility and power from Calgary Power’s Horseshoe Falls won out.
1: The yard opened in March 1913, there were 12 buildings and 1,200 men worked there. Today, there are 175 employees. By the way, I started at Angus shops in July 1976, moved to Calgary in August 1989. Now I am retired already for 3 years .
2: I worked for the CPR 41 years and retired in 1990.
1: How is life treating, Ken?
2: Pretty good, pretty good. Moving from Ogden to Alyth will be also a different quality of life.
2: As work will take place outdoors instead of inside, along with weekends and night shifts which weren’t an issue at Ogden which operates five days a week.
1:Yes, you’re right, Ken.
This is A. Anderson’s poem “A Song of Labour”, Respectfully Dedicated to My Fellow-Workers with Pick and Shovel Everywhere.
LET us sing, my toiling Brothers, with our rough, rude voice a song
That shall live behind, nor do us in the after ages wrong,
But forever throb and whisper strength to nerve our fellow kind
As they rise to fill our footsteps and the space we leave behind…
O, my Brothers, this is something, in the fret and rush of days,
Worthy of our love and wonder, and the throbbing out of praise;
Then another wilder paen for this march of thought and mind,
Some ecstatic dithyrambus that shall deify our kind.”
Photos, represented here, are from the Ken and Pat Browns’ family album. Thanks a lot for that.