Page revised October 4  2005






































My personal view of the CNR shops in 1952



My memories of the CNR Backshops!

My name is Chuck Doubrough and I lived in Stratford for most of my young life. My home was at the corner of Nile and Milton Street, between the CNR shops and the CNR yards. Every day of my young life I remember hearing the yard engines, shunting cars back and forth, at the same time the big air hammer banging away in the Blacksmith shop at the other end of the street. Many a day I sat on our side porch and watched and waved to the men coming home from the shops at noon after the CNR whistle blew and then on their way back when dinner was finished. Most of the fellows have long passed away, but I still remember some of them well. Waking up in the middle of the night and feeling the big hammer vibrating through the house was quite an experience, waiting for my Dad to come home on the late shift and checking out his lunch box in the morning to see if he left me a sandwich or not. These are things I remember well. The next most important thing as a child was the Christmas Party in the Tender shop. Meeting Santa Claus and having an opportunity to go into the big shop was always something to look forward to. I believe the MC for that day was Bill Carter and he always did a great job. The Christmas presents were not bad either. My Dad was a pipe fitter in the shops and one of the other chores he got to do each year was to check the plumbing and turn the water on and off at the Nationalís stadium each spring and fall. I would go with him and while he worked, I looked for old hardballs to keep us kids going when we played in the park across from the CNR station on Shakespeare Street.
In February of 1952 I finally got the call to start my apprenticeship as an electrician in the CNR shops. Getting in as an electrician apprentice was no mean feat at that time and I had to wait a while. It was the hardest trade to get into. I believe my Uncle Reg who was Electrical Forman  had something to do with it, even though he never admitted it. The apprentice instructor at that time was Mr. Hodges He got us through the educational aspects of the job and I bet it was not easy for him with all the young fellows and the high jinks that go with it. My first job in the shops was in the Tender shop working with Mr. McIntyre, rewiring the tenders. The second job was rewiring the cabs in the erecting shop. They generally ripped out all the conduits and rewired if necessary. Harry Millman and John McDonald were the electricians on that job. Next came the work on the small steam generators on the top of the steam locomotives. Walter Pauli had that job and he new it well. Every once in a while he would give you a shot of 32 volts DC just to keep you interested. He was a great guy to work with. The next stint was the armature winding shop where they repaired motors of every size and description. It was under the leadership of Bill Murie. I found the job rather boring, but others enjoyed it very much. I spent some time learning to run some of the 10 and 15-ton cranes. It was lucky I did not kill someone. It takes a lot of experience to run one safely. It was understandable why they did not allow me to try out the 200-ton crane. Itís the one that lifts the locomotives. I spent some time in shop maintenance with Bob Byatt, but that was short lived and then I got the call to travel. The apprentices in the shop at that time had a rather gruesome ritual, which utilized red lead painted on a fellow before he left town to complete his apprenticeship. I remember hiding in the crane in the Tender shop till about 5:30 pm, just to keep away from them. Fortunately I snuck out unseen and took off to Ft. Erie. My time away consisted of a year at  Ft. Erie working on first generation diesels for the CNR-Wabash, Spadina in construction, then North Bay, Capreol, Hornpayne and all stations in between with the District Electricians. Finally I went to London Ontario in the Coach shops and out of my time in Stratford as an Electrician in 1957. My Dad and my Uncle suggested I apply for a job with the District Electricians in London. They knew at that time that the end was close for the Locomotive shops in Stratford. I took their advice and never looked back.
 
                                                

















Irene Carter age 5 visits Santa Claus in the CNR Tender shop in 1941.














Canadian National Railways Locomotive 6068.

 

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 Page by Chuck Doubrough