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Photograph of workers sitting or standing in front of a row of railway cars, where they lived while working on the railroad


Boarding cars housed railway workers, 1915

ARCHIVED - The Kid's Site of Canadian Trains

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Building a Railway



I Was There

"End of Track was something more than just the point to which track had been laid. It was a real live community, a hive of industry, in which teamsters, track-layers, blacksmiths, carpenters, executive officers, and other trades and professions all had a part. They had their quarters on a train composed of cars loaded with rails and other track material, followed by large boarding-cars for the workmen, and by sundry smaller cars for the executives. This train was pushed ahead as track-laying proceeded; and at the end of a day's work, it might be three or four miles from where it was on the morning." When the Steel Went Through : Reminiscences of a Railroad Pioneer, by P. Turner Bone. Toronto: MacMillan, p. 43

Many different nationalities worked as "navvies" to build our Canadian railway.

The Chinese workers were often given the most dangerous jobs on the railway and were paid less than other workers. It has been estimated that for every mile of the railway, one Chinese worker lost his life in blasting accidents or rock slides.

Read More

Ghost Train, by Paul Yee, illustrated by Harvey Chan. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, ©1996, 30 p. (A Groundwood Book). Ages 8 to 12

White Jade Tiger, by Julie Lawson. Victoria: B.C.: Beach Holme Pub., 1993, 164 p. Ages 11 to 14

I Was There

"Sunday was washing day in camp, too; every tub was in use, and every low branch or rude fence hung with men's clothes. In one place you would see a man sitting on a stump to have his hair cut; another repairing the week's wear and tear of his garments."

A Trip to Manitoba: Or, Roughing It on the Line, by Mary Fitzgibbon. Toronto: Rose-Belford Publishing, 1880, p. 171

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