Manyberries, Alberta

When I got the power control job for Canadian Pacific in Montreal in August, 1974, I was told that the greenies in the Operations Centre got the 4-12 job on the Prairie Desk, Thunder Bay to Swift Curent/Hardisty, as there was a chief train dispatcher in Winnipeg, Bert Johnston, who watched you closely, and reminded you if you were going to fall into a trap somewhere. At this time, Sutherland only had a day chief and a night chief, the train dispatchers after things when there was no one else in authority (it was like this in Smiths Falls too when I dispatched there in the 1960-1970s).  And it was the same€ at Moose Jaw.

So I brought the Prairie region timetables home to learn all the different subdivisions, including the line to Manyberries.  This place was actually looked after by the west/Pacific desk, as the trains would run southeast from Lethbridge and back; the trains from Assiniboia ran west to Shaunavon, then Notekeu, and back southeast to their final point.  I cannot recall a train going west to Manyberries from Shaunavon after 1974, but it may have happened.

When I finally learned the Prairie desk, I was hustled off to the Pacitic Region railroad d€esk. When the Canadian Whest Board gave CP an order to run to Mannyberries, we were€ instructed to try to get either 2 or 3 GP38 units down to Lethbridge for this run from Alyth (Calgary) as the GP9s were getting pretty long in the tooth, plus they had smaller fuel tanks than the GP38s.  The units were fully fuelled before leaving Lethbridge, as the fuelling facilities in the area were few and far between.  In 1974, there were no GP38s assigned to Alyth, all were Winnipeg units, but we still had lots running around Alberta.

About 1980, several local yokels (late teenagers) in Ottawa that lived in my area asked if I could get them operators job out west.  Moose Jaw took a couple of guys. One, Marc Gallagher. a tall, thin guy, went to Moose Jaw for his rules test, medical, etc. He was sent to Manyberries to relieve the agent for several weeks. lt must have been quite a shock for this city slicker to arrive in Manyberries. There is one dirt street in town, no paved roads in or out, and you had to watch out for rattlesnakes in that part of dry gulch Alberta. He weighed about 140 pounds when he left Ottawa, and I don't think that he weighed 100 pounds when he got back at the end of August to go back to Grade l3. His girlfriend was not too happy at seeing this scrawny skeleton returning from out west. I think that he told me he lived on pork
and beans for all the time that he was there.

The following year, he was able to transfer to the Smiths Falls Division, and worked that area during his university days until they abolished the operator's jobs with MBS/OCS. He had passed his train dispatcher's course by this time and went to Toronto to become'an RTC. His girlfriend wasn't happy with his commuting back and forth, and he eventually left CP.

I understand that the 'highway' in and out of Manyberries is still not paved, and if you want to see what remains of the CP right-of-way, have lots of gasoline, and don't go in the spring when the roads get muddy and nearly impassible.

And the joke in the office was. if you somehow 'screwed up' and did something wrong, you were demoted to the 12-8 shift at Manyberries !|
Bytown Railway Society,  Branchline, January 2010, page 26.

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