All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway Workers

A Day in the Life of a Train Dispatcher

Graham Hill - Telegraph Operator Duties

Graham Hill speaks of the Telegraph Operator Duties

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Length: 2:37 Min
File Size: 10.0 MB

I was a Telegraph Operator with CN starting in 1957. Worked in almost every station on the main line and a few on the branch lines. A day as an operator consisted of selling tickets, accepting, and delivering express and freight, checking baggage, doing accounting work, cutting train orders, and other general office duties. When I started back in 57, there was quite a few stations that did not have electricity, so you would use lamps, gas lanterns. They had to be cleaned, so....the floors had to be swept, that was all part of our job.

Working in a place like Gambo, you had to do everything. In bigger stations like Grand Falls or Bishop's Falls or Clarenville there were different employees for different functions of the operation. Most shifts when you're a junior you were assigned to the night shift, no Saturdays or Sundays off - so you had to take what was left over. The first five years, usually in my case anyway, you were spare boarding. That was relief and possibly could be laid off for a few months in the winter time. When you gained more seniority, you could make a bid on a position in some station and hold a permanent job. And in my case, my first permanent job was Deer Lake in 1962. So I worked five years spare boarding and from that I worked all over and eventually bid on the job as a train dispatcher.