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Canada 150: Celebrating Our CP Family Connections

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As Canada 150 approaches, it’s impossible for CP employees to not feel a unique sense of pride. The story of how CP came to be and the impact it had on our country has been told and retold, becoming one of the greatest unifying stories in Canadian history.

From coast to coast, the ribbon of steel helped connect people, families and communities, fuelling the economy and proudly serving its customers. An employer of choice for many since the beginning, the railroad has provided employment for generations of Canadians and immigrants, establishing our very own CP family.

One hundred and thirty-six years later, railroading bloodlines run deep and in the spirit of the Canada 150 celebrations we have set out to uncover some of those stories and celebrate our connections.

Paying homage to my grandfather: Battle of Vimy Ridge hero

Carl Moore is a business systems specialist working within our Information Services group, and a second generation CP employee. In April, Moore travelled to France to attend the centennial commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the First World War’s bloodiest and defining moments, which claimed more than 10,500 Canadian casualties.

Moore’s grandfather, Arthur Charles Moore was a retired CP employee and a decorated Canadian hero who fought at Vimy Ridge.

“I felt tremendous pride while visiting Vimy Ridge and attending the centennial ceremony, especially since I was joined by my brother Art, who is the namesake of our grandad. It was an incredible experience to visit the grounds of the memorial and retrace some of his footsteps. This, combined with the retelling of the battle and hearing the experiences of what transpired was very moving. It gave me a whole new respect and admiration for my grandad, as well as all the young men who served.”

In 1906, Arthur Charles Moore was only 17 years old when he moved to Calgary from Nova Scotia, in search of adventure and new opportunities. Arthur hired on as a telegrapher with CP in Field, British Columbia a year later. A fast learner, he was soon promoted and relocated around the network to Alberta and then Manitoba, filling several positions, before meeting his bride, Emily Hill, and taking up residence in Castor, Alberta as a station master.

With the onset of the First World War, Arthur enlisted in the Canadian Army as a private in 1915 and began his assignment under the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Calgary), 4th Division. He was promoted to the rank of lance corporal in 1917 while completing training in France, and on April 9 of that year, began combat in the Battle of Vimy Ridge against the German 6th Army.

“He possessed an adventurer’s spirit, which led him to the West and to CP. It was that spirit that brought me to CP and continues to fuel the passion I feel as a railroader for CP.”

During the battle, Arthur fought valiantly and his bravery and dedicated service earned him the rank of lieutenant in 1917 and the Military Cross decoration the following year. The award recognized his actions in aiding a rail crew to cross enemy lines in search of water for their locomotives—a risky, but essential undertaking to keep the trains and cargo moving.

In 1919, Arthur returned to Canada and after leaving the military, resumed his duties as station master with CP in Castor. He retired in 1958 and moved to Calgary with his wife, where he remained until his death in 1979.

“My grandad always found his career at CP very rewarding. As station master, he was the community’s link to the rest of the world, overseeing all passenger travel and freight movement in and out of the town. He possessed an adventurer’s spirit, which led him to the West and to CP. This was especially evident during his early years spent in Field at a time before the Spiral Tunnels. It was that spirit that brought me to CP and continues to fuel the passion I feel as a railroader for CP.”

Following in my father’s footsteps

In Smiths Falls, Ontario, railroading culture is deeply ingrained in the town’s history and that of its residents. Steve McKenney and his daughter Stephanie are proof of this as third and fourth generation CP railroaders.

Steve McKenney and his daighter Stephanie standing in front of a CP locomotive.

Currently an assistant trainmaster, McKenney fondly recalls having the opportunity to train with her father, something she holds near and dear to her heart. “I was able to train as a conductor with my dad. I can’t think of too many workplaces where this would be possible. We got to spend a lot of quality time together, which was fun. He’s a good railroader and I still have a lot to learn from him.”

The McKenney family history began intertwining with that of CP’s in the early 1920s when Stephanie’s great-grandfather joined the company as a steam locomotive engineer.

“My family’s history with CP goes back almost 100 years and spans four generations, with my great-grandfather working for the railroad in the 1920s, followed years later by both of my grandfathers in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, I am proud to be following in their footsteps and to have my dad beside me as part of the journey,” said McKenney.

Mr. McKenney started his career with CP in early 2000, influenced in part by the advancement opportunities within the company and his father’s stories of the railroad.

“My family’s history with CP goes back almost 100 years and spans four generations, with my great-grandfather working for the railroad in the 1920s, followed years later by both of my grandfathers in the 1950s and 1960s.”

“I am equally proud to be working for a company that is so uniquely Canadian, and I know that this pride is shared amongst many of my co-workers here at the Smiths Falls Terminal,” said Mr. McKenney. “I work alongside approximately 30 running trades employees who have railroading in their bloodlines. Many have hired on after a father, brother, grandfather or some other related family member, and I think that over the course of time this became a pattern at CP, which I for one am glad to see continues today.”

Continuing a railroading legacy

Across the country in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Roadmaster Chad Deschamps reminds us of the importance CP played in the city’s development and shares the impact the company has had on his family. Born and raised in Revelstoke, Deschamps always knew he wanted to work for CP. His grandfather started working for the company in 1946 and had a penchant for sharing railroad stories during family dinners, while his father, who joined the railroad in 1958, worked for the company for over 47 years, until his retirement.

A CP worker with his father.

“Every railroading story I heard from my grandfather and my father has been full of gratitude and pride towards CP. They often spoke about CP’s history here and the benefits of working for such an iconic company.”

When it was time to make his own career choice, following in his father’s footsteps came naturally. Now, 27 years later, Deschamps is grateful to be able to continue his family’s railroading legacy.

“It’s been an impressive journey so far. I am thankful for the people who have shared their CP stories with me, which in one way or another has influenced my work. It makes me feel like I am part of something greater.

Being able to work alongside family and friends right here in my hometown has always held a special place in my heart. CP truly is an extended family for me.”

Connecting to our past, embracing our future

There are hundreds of narratives such as these across the country and as Canada’s big day approaches, we are excited to connect with our CP family and communities across the network to remind everyone of our original purpose: connecting Canada.

Our CP Canada 150 Train will carry the spirit of this mission and travel across Canada to host events and free family-oriented activities. Beginning in Port Moody on July 28 and travelling through 13 Canadian cities, with the final stop in Ottawa on August 20, the train will feature a diesel locomotive, unique heritage cars and a custom stage car, which will accommodate opening acts from First Nations performers and a free concert featuring Canadian country music star, Dean Brody.

“As the 17th person to lead this iconic railroad, I am honoured to be part of the CP family. Our CP Canada 150 Train tour is a chance for all of us to reconnect and renew the pride in our company, and celebrate the role CP played in uniting Canada and Canadians,” said Keith Creel, President and CEO.

In the spirit of celebrating connections, there is still time for you to share your own story. Enter our online contest, What’s your railway legacy? for a chance to win an experience of a lifetime, including a two-day, two-night, all-expense-paid trip for two aboard the CP Canada 150 Train, with five-star hospitality from the staff of the Royal Canadian Pacific. The contest is open to both Canadian and U.S. employees as well as the Canadian public.

The contest officially launched on May 10 through social media and will run until July 31. From stories of sacrifice, bravery, ingenuity and even romance, we want to hear it all. For more information on specific community events, activities, an up-to-date Canada 150 Train schedule and our social media contest, visit cpr.ca. CP Canada 150 merchandise is also available for sale online to all employees and the general public through CP Shops.

A map of the route the CP Canada 150 train will follow.

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