He's Moved Mountains Of Baggage In 47 Years Serving Union Station, Published 14 July 1959.The man who went into Union Station the year it was built is finally leaving, after 47 years.
William Frederick Milks, head baggageman, is getting ready to leave his home-way-from-home. The actual retirement date is August 31 but he hopes to "shade" that by taking earlier leave.
"The most interesting thing about baggage is people", says this boss baggage man.
The old Union Station, spelled "Uvion", opened its doors to the public on June 1, 1912. Mr. Milks started moving baggage at the depot one month later.
It is hard to realize, as you look at the lean, grey-haired man, that he has spent almost half a century in the same place doing the same thing. Mr. Milks looks as if he could still move a mountain of trunks without breathing heavily.
Mr. Milks was not quite sure what he wanted to do in life, so he tried a variety of things . .a job with Gillies Brothers, the lumbcr mill dynasty; the old Department of Marine and Fisheries: and even a career building light houses on the Great Lakes. Then he took a look at the light houses he had built, shook his head, and plunged into a mountain of baggage down at the Union Station.
A heap of living has gone by Baggage Chief Milks since he first hung up his hat in the Union Depot.
You coiJd get a drink at a dozen places on Little Sussex Street, from Rideau to the Depot square.
The girls were kicking high and gaily at the Casino while comedian Eddie Collins feet amused the boys in the boxes.
Yellow Ottawa Electric mail cars rolled down the tracks to unload their Royal Mail.
Horses hammered hoofs impatiently on the pavement while the hackies hustled business with "Hire a keb!"
The 1920's blended into the 1930's. The street car tracks had long since gone. And Little Sussex became a wide street. Gas taxis chased the horse cabs into the history books.
Then the war; lots to do and mightly little help to do it.
"I have seen me get here at seven in the morning and work till after midnight", said Baggageman Milks. "Repats would turn up by the train load, and their baggage had to be handled that day-or that night".
Biggest change in the baggage business, Mr. Milks, thought, was the introduction of the tractor. Instead of two men struggling to wheel a truck down to the train, a tractor now handles two, may be more trucks, with little effort.
"I remember the time," grinned Milks, "when a traveller" would arrive here with as many as 30 trunks. We don't see that any more."
"Would you do it again if you had your life to live over," asked The Citizen.
Milks thought a while, then said: "Yes, I guess I would. There is something about this railway business. . ."
No Lost Baggage
Mr. Milk. refused to concede that baggage gets lost.
"Baggage always turns up somewhere", he insisted.
Except for three years in France in the First World War Mr. Milks said he had never travelled far from his native Eardley, Quebec.
Mr. Milks married Sophia Walters in St. Matthias Church in 1921. They have three daughters and one son; Mrs. Donald (Edith) Dunlop, Washington; Mrs. Norman (Joan) Beaton, and Mrs. Bernard (Eleanor) Hughes both of Ottawa; and William, in National Revenue, Ottawa.
The Milks live off the Aylmer Road on Lakeside Terrace, just west of Connaught Park,
"Only 20 minutes by car to work," ho boasted.
But soon he hopes to spend all of his days in his garden