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Family Ties

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Sunday dinners at the DiFruscia house might go something like this:

Dad: “So, did you hear about the GE Locomotives we’re modernizing?”
Vanessa: “Yup, and not only will I be writing the story – I get to go visit the plant.”
Dad: “So lucky!”
Emily: “Dad, when are we going to get the contract signed for the return-to-work person?”
Dad: “Emily, make an appointment with me on Monday.”
Vanessa: “Wait until you see the photos I bring back from the GE plant.”
Mom: “Can you please pass the bread – and stop talking shop.”

The DiFruscias, like many families, enjoy getting together on Sundays to catch up. All living within blocks of each other, Sunday dinners are frequent. The news they share might sound like something you would hear passing one another in the halls and yards at work. That’s because newly retired Mike DiFruscia, Superintendent Mechanical AB/SK, and daughters Emily DiFruscia, Disability Management Specialist and Vanessa DiFruscia, Coordinator Internal Communications, enjoy sharing and talking about their respective careers and all three work at CP.

The Patriarch of the family, Mike had been with CP for 39 ½ years, only just retiring this past January. Originally from Montréal, Mike joined CP because there was a beautiful young woman, Paola, whom he wanted to make a permanent part of his life and he knew CP, headquartered at that time in Montréal, would provide him stability. His first job back in 1978 was as an apprentice mechanic. Within his first few years, he joined management working the night shift, and became happily married to Paola. A couple of years later, Emily and then Vanessa were born and completed the family. His girls, as he likes to refer to them, soon learned to adjust to the ever changing needs of CP which meant, during the course of Mike’s career, packing up and moving three times finally landing in Calgary. He has no regrets about moving and notes “CP treated me well.”

Emily and Vanessa relied on each other to help settle into their new communities. Growing up around the railway meant attending CP events and work talk at home as they had extended family who were also CP employees at the time; an uncle and cousins. Perhaps this reliance and closeness of their tight-knit family and the many dinner conversations helped foster more than a cursory interest in CP for Emily and Vanessa. It was the youngest, Vanessa, who made the leap to the railway first, interning as a summer student in 2008 delivering mail and packages. Eventually, a full-time position opened up in customer service and Vanessa moved to operations as a locomotive reliability specialist, or ‘Diesel Doc’ as it was commonly referred. Her training took place in Alyth Yard in Calgary, where Mike was Superintendent. Her father proved to be a valuable source of information and Sunday dinners became an opportunity to enhance her working knowledge of locomotives. In fact, Mike says that “For the first three months of Vanessa’s new position as a Diesel Doc she called me regularly at all hours of the day, to ask questions. Then, the calls stopped as she became comfortable in the role. I kind of missed the calls.”

What Mike impressed upon each of his daughters growing up is this: to be successful is to be happy and enjoy working in a career that challenges you – do not just take the easy path.

With one of his daughters now at CP, it was only a matter of time before Emily joined. After bearing witness to her father’s love of the railway and his “strong” recommendation to join CP, six years ago Emily interviewed as an RTC. She eventually accepted an offer as a service improvement specialist for mechanical cars. Emily, too, worked at Alyth Yard for some time, so she and Mike would pass one another on the job. Dad was more than pleased both daughters joined CP and could not be prouder.

Mike swears he did not push his girls into the mechanical world. Sharing a look, Emily and Vanessa may believe otherwise. There is no denying, though, working in operations has provided a strong foundation for each of their careers so far. Vanessa, now working in Communications and Public Affairs, relishes being part of telling the CP story and sharing inspiring employee moments. She readily admits that “CP was good to my dad and has been good for me, well, for all of us.” Emily is currently working as a Specialist, Disability Management. She loves having her sister nearby to grab a coffee or hit the gym together.

What Mike impressed upon each of his daughters growing up is this: to be successful is to be happy and enjoy working in a career that challenges you; do not just take the easy path. The mantra has definitely been passed to the next generation and Emily and Vanessa are writing the DiFruscia’s next chapter at CP. But if you think there is any less shop talk at Sunday dinners now that Mike has retired, there isn’t. Just ask their mom.

A series of three images of Vanessa, Emily and their dad at the dinner table.

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