While talking to Rob about his long and varied career, and how he did it all as a single father to four kids, his gratitude is obvious. His career with CP, Rob notes, “was a lot of fun. I always learned something new. CP was really good to me and helped me raise my children.”
In fact, Rob - a third generation railroader - is hoping one of his sons will follow in his footsteps.
Rob’s crowning achievements at CP, likely to outlast most buildings and careers are the remarkable and stunning creations that now adorn the 1881 Lodge lounge areas. His manager, Chad Decoene, was asked to handpick a creative welder with the skillset to handcraft lamps and side tables out of steel. But not just any steel. No, this project required the sensitivity and understanding of the special material that was being used. Just as the lodge is named 1881, aptly, the rail used to fashion the lamps dates all the way back to 1881. With a few reference images at his disposal, there was only one person Chad knew who would be able to deliver the project in the tight, five-day timeline and with the finesse to match the reference images. Putting their heads together, Chad helped Rob come up with the initial design. Then, Rob set to work.
Imagine that first cut into 137-year old steel. There’s no room for error, no room for mistakes and there would not be another opportunity to create such a memorable impression. With sureness of hand, Rob took the 200-pound rail and began the transformation into a post-modern industrial, yet warm and functional lamp. A tie plate was fashioned and secured to the base with half cut spikes, adding just the right elements to these two illuminating masterpieces. Once Rob finished with the sanding and welding, the furniture was sent off to be dipped in paint then outfitted with the electrical parts. The lettering already etched on the heavy gauge, was highlighted in gold paint.
Rob's first look at the finished products was when he sat down with Canadian Pacific Magazine to talk about his transformation from rail car mechanic to furniture maker. Grinning from ear-to-ear and running his hand up and down one of the lamps, Rob was simply stunned to see how beautiful they turned out.
“They're just amazing, they look terrific,” said Rob. “The paint and lettering are outstanding.”
The lamps are definitely the showpieces, but Rob also crafted two beautiful long side tables that are topped with marble, and low-rise side tables that are dressed with a glass top etched with CP’s logo.
Wherever life leads Rob now, one thing is for certain: his legacy shines bright in the 1881 Lodge.