Alphabetical Stations For The CNR On The Prairies, Published 23 March 1959Why are the stations on the main line of the Canadian National Railways, out west, named alphabetically? For more than 40 years now, I have wondered who did it - and why.
Up comes James Muir, public relations impresario of the CNR, with an answer.
Those who go westbound, on the CNR, and happen to study either the time table or the stations, will find such a sequence, for instance, as Arena, Bloom. Caye, Deer, Exira, and so on down to Yarbo and Zeneta.
Then the alphabet starts all over again with Atwater, Bangor, etc. Indeed, this alphabetical sequence has given us the only place beginning with "X" in Canada, at Xena, Saskatchewan.
Mr. Muir has uncovered the answers, in. talking to H. C. Rochester and N. Kinsella. both of Montreal. Mr. Kinsella was once secretary to two former vice-presidents of the Grand Trunk Pacific. He remembers well when the stations were named on the then GTP, now the Canadian National.
Mr. Kinsella recalls a hot July afternoon in Winnipeg more than 50 years ago, as the GTP brass sat around a table and dreamed up new names for spots on the bald-headed prairie. In the few cases where known towns existed, they used these same names. But when the new stations were just dots on the map, they agreed to use the alphabet. If possible, the names were chosen for people known to the Grand Trunk Pacific personnel.
Take Landis, Reford and Scott, for instance, all in Saskatchewan. Landis was for Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, later baseball's czar. Reford, was for Robert Reford, of the steamship line. Mr. Reford used to be agent for Cunard Line in Montreal. Finally, Scott is named after Frank Scott, treasurer, G.T.P.
Divisional points were named for men's middle names, hence Rivers, after Charles Rivers Wilson. GTR London; and Melville after Charles Melville Hays, President, Grand Trunk Railway.
So, all across the prairies the stations go in alphabetical sequence, from Fort William to Sioux Lookout, and from Winnipeg into the Rockies. Many new towns have intruded since, but you can still spot the A.B.C.'s if you look hard.
Going into Edmonton, there still are Ardrossan, Bremner, and Clover Bar.
Now to turn to another type of nomenclature. I have often been surprised that the up and coming Boy Scouts have paid so little attention to these three Manitoha stations in a row: Mafeking. Baden and Powell. They are on the CNR line from Winnipeg to Prince Albert. Mafeking begins at Mile 335.4. and the trio ends at Mile 352.5.
Again I refer to the omniscient Mr. Muir, who reports that the names of these stops were supplied by C. R. Stovel, right-of-way agent for the old Canadian Northern, with some help from other CNR officials. . They much admired Baden Powell's great performance at the Siege of Mafeking, and decided to honor the hero with not one, but three, stations. They were named In 1904.