Brave Act - Full Career

Who are we, Canada's public servants? Are we complacent, indifferent paper shufflers? Or do we bring spirit, commitment and character to the world around us?

None of us may do quite as well in the latter qualifications as Keith Post, who was one of us until his recent retirement. But as you read the letter from Colin Churcher, Director General, Railway Safety, you may develop, as we did, a sense of pride in having worked in the same department.

Dear Keith:

I've heard a number of stories about you over the years. One that I like best is that you lied about your age to get into the armed forces during the Second World War. You were a gunner in the Canadian Army 1940-45, fighting in Europe.

By my calculations, this would have made you 14 when you joined up.

I'm sure the experience stood you in good stead. You have built quite a reputation for fighting for what you think is right. You still look pretty good and I'm wondering if you're having to lie about your age in order to start your retirement.

One result of your wartime experience was an acute hearing impairment.

Your father was a boiler maker in the round house at Ottawa West and it was natural that you would think to follow him into the railway.

You began your career with Canadian Pacific working on steam locomotives in 1946, the same year you married Eleanor Jean Wilston.

For many years you were chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, number 172, the F.G. Lawrence Lodge. The firemen issue arose and you fought to retain them. You were selected, along with Duncan du Fresne, as a union witness in the Exchequer Court.

Working as a hogger for CP at Ottawa in the 1950's and 1960's must have been interesting but by 1970 the signs were clear. On the theory that if you can't beat them, join them you started with the Canadian Transport Commission in 1972.

I know you have a great number of friends across the country. I find them where you work, or have worked - as director of the Toronto office, headquarters director-general of Operations and Maintenance and your final job as director of the Calgary office.

I came to know you when Victor Barbeau and I were drafting the Railway Safety Act. Your knowledge made our task a lot easier.

Before that I knew of you when you worked on the Grange and Foisy inquiries, where you helped make the railways safer.

I don't know your exact connections with Grange, but you were Mr. Justice Rene P. Foisy's key technical advisor. I'd see you beside Justice Foisy, explaining what makes a railway tick.

You were the fireman in the locomotive cab when you spotted a toddler lying over the rail. The engineer put the brakes into emergency but it was clear you couldn 't stop in time. Without a moment's hesitation you went out to the front foot board, grabbed for the toddler at the last moment and rolled into the ditch with him in your arms. It didn't matter that you had put your life on the line. You had saved a two-year-old from certain death.
Your brave act earned you an award, presented by Stanley Knowles, the famous parliamentarian.

I wish you well in your retirement. Many people who have retired seem to be even busier than when they were working. I am sure this will be true for you.

Keith retired in his beloved Calgary so that he could get some houseboating in on the Shuswap Lakes, and a little golf in on the side. Unfortunately, a few years ago he was taken from us by cancer.

Transport Canada Staff Magazine, July-August, 1990.

Home   Articles