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					                               Interview Transcription of Bowater Oral History Project

Compact Disc # B-15
Interviewee: Elward Pear, 145 Humber Road, Corner Brook, Newfoundland Labrador.
Interviewer: Peter Brake
Transcription by: Travis Sheppard
Interview Date: May 23, 1980
Transcription Date: October 12, 2008
Topic: Recollections of the railway in Corner Brook and the West Coast from the 1920's to the 1940's.

Time                                                  Interview                                         Comments
(min)

        Interviewer:   Now Mr. Pear how old are you right now?
        Interviewee:   Seventy-Four, June 9th
        Interviewer:   Now where were you born?
        Interviewee:   Ah...I was born on Belle Island...Conception Bay
        Interviewer:   And when did you move to Corner Brook”
        Interviewee:   I was brought to Corner Brook as a very small baby
        Interviewer:   Did you come with your family?
        Interviewee:   Ah oh yeah, the family moved here yeah...that’s my father’s family now,
                       brought me with him of course
        Interviewer:   Now why did your family move to Corner Brook?
        Interviewee:   Well, Ah he ah he was a miner on Belle Island and ah he changed his course
                       to railroad....he preferred railroad instead of working in mines you know
        Interviewer:   And he came to work here on the railroad?
        Interviewee:   And he came and worked his way through to the Bay of Islands
        Interviewer:   What do you me he had to work his way through?
2                      Interviewee: You see there was divisions (interviewer: divisions) there
                       were divisions first you know like ah from St. Johns to Clarenville would be
                       one division, then from Clarenville to Bishops Falls would be another
                       (interviewer: I see) like that you know, and then from Bishops Falls to
                       here...Corner Brook
        Interviewer:   How did he...did he graduate from one division to another?
        Interviewee:   He didn’t graduate...sometimes through building doing big jobs you know ah
                       like there was a vacancy for an....
        Interviewer:   Was it by building seniority?
        Interviewee:   It was by seniority yeah
        (long pause)
        Interviewer:   Why did your father change from mining to railroading, he didn’t like
                       mining?
3                      Interviewee: He did like mining as well as he liked the railroad job (I see)
        Interviewer:   Did he face any health hazards?
        Interviewee:   No, no there was nothing like that
        (Long Pause)
        Interviewee:   He had three trades
        Interviewer:   He had three trades...
        Interviewee:   He was a man of three trades
        Interviewer:   And what were...
        Interviewee:   He was a miner, leading miner hand, and ah he was a shoemaker, and his last
                       one was engineering.
        Interviewer:   Where did he pick up the art of making shoes?
        Interviewee:   He served his time as a boy
        Interviewer:   I see so he was an apprentice...
        Interviewee:   Yeah he went through an apprenticeship
     Interviewer:   Did he every make any shoes in... (get cut off)
4                   Interviewee: Oh yes...I remember seeing things hanging on the basement
                    wall
     Interviewer:   I am really interested in this. Where did he learn this?
     Interviewee:   He learned it in St. John’s
     Interviewer:   He had to go to St. John’s
     Interviewer:   Did he have to go to St. John’s to learn it?
     Interviewee:   He wasn’t on Belle Island to learn it
     Interviewer:   How old was he when he went to St. John’s then?                (Bad Question)
5                   Interviewee: He was only a young man (very low voice indicating
                    uncertainty) I can’t recall age because it was too long ago, but in apprentice
                    years.
     Interviewer:   He was probably a young teenager
     Interviewee:   I would say, I would say
     Interviewer:   When he moved to the Corner Brook area what part of the Belle of Islands
                    areas did you live in?
     ?
     Interviewer:   Did you consider this Humber Road a part of Humber Mouth?
6                   Interviewee: Oh yes...the only thing is they changed it because it was much
                    narrower and wasn’t paved. They used a horse and carriage at that time.
     Interviewer:   But there was a road here?
     Interviewee:   Oh yeah...there was one main road
     (Pause)
7                  Interviewee: They use to use a ferry boat to go around the harbor.
     Interviewer: Who ran the ferry boat?
     Interviewee: Davis...Mr. Davis use to run the boat. It made two trips a day.
     Interviewer: Now (pause)
     Interviewer: What area did he cover?
8                  Interviewee: He began in Curling, his home, and go across to Summerside.
     Interviewer: Do you know the name of the government ferry boat?
9                  Interviewee: No, I don’t believe she had a name...she might have had a
                   name, but I didn’t hear of it. She could hold a capacity of 12 people I guess.
                   On a fine day she would take some on deck.
     Interviewer: Was this the only ferry boat?
     Interviewee: Oh yes...
     Interviewer: Where there any boats that would just run between Curling and Summerside?
10                 Interviewee: Ah...no, only that one I know of. He would make a trip in the
                   morning or more if he had two or three hours. That was his regular hours.
     Interviewer: Do you remember when this ferry ended?
     Interviewee: No. The bus service from Corner Brook opened up and took the passengers
                   off.
     Interviewer: So you don’t remember exactly when the ferry service ended?
11                 Interviewee: No. Frank may be able to tell you that. They opened up the
                   Mush Shore road and there was no need for a road. That served the people on
                   that side of the harbor see.
     Interviewer: What school did you go to in Humber Mouth?
     Interviewee: The United Church school
     Interviewer: Oh awesome. The United Church School. How many grade would that school
                   have had?
     Interviewee: Had up to junior
     Interviewer: What would that be the equivalent of today?
12                 Interviewee: Grade ten today I would say
     (Background: “I shut off the stove for you.” He is talking to a women would is at the house)
     Interviewer: Did you go to school til grade ten?
     Interviewee:   I went to that school...ah I forget... (pause) I went to work with the railway.
     Interviewer:   You went to work with the railway.
13                  Interviewee: I went to work as an apprentice
     Interviewer:   What were you an apprentice for?
     Interviewee:   I was being an apprentice for engineering.
     Interviewer:   What time would this be by the way...before or after the war?
14                  Interviewee: After the war. I’ll tell you a little about that. After I worked for
                    a year and a half in the shop I decided to go back to school again and went to
                    St. John’s. I went to Prince of Whales college in St. John’s and had another
                    year of school there.
     Interviewer:   Why did you want to go back to get some more schooling?
     Interviewee:   I thought it necessary in order to do engineering.
     Interviewer:   Did many of the other apprentices do that?
     Interviewee:   Well, yes, there was one fellow. There was one fellow there when I was there.
15                  Interviewer: Now did you do this on your own or did the railway...
     Interviewee:   No it was on my own
     Interviewer:   What would the problems have been if you continued as an apprentice
                    without upgrading your education?
     Interviewee:   Well I would come out advance, maybe as a apprentice fireman, and be able
                    to understand orders. Some orders were hard to understand as a greenhorn.
16                  Interviewer: Do you remember what year it was when you went to Prince
                    of Whales College in St. John’s?
     Interviewee:   No. I don’t know what year. However, after returning from that I picked up
                    my job again.
     Interviewer:   And you went right back to being an apprentice again?
17                  Interviewee: And I wasn’t no time then tell I was back working on the
                    road...the railroad. Then I had to do more studies to work my way up.
     Interviewer:   When you were working as an apprentice was the railroad very busy?
     Interviewee:   Yeah quite busy
     Interviewer:   Was it busier than today
     Interviewee:   Yeah twice as busy. Eight to ten trains a day sometimes
18                  Interviewer: What would these trains mostly be doing?
     Interviewee:   Some of them were work trains and building the tracks you know. Then there
                    was vegetable trains too. Then we use to have two freight trains from Port
                    Aux Basque to St. John’s.
19                  Interviewer: Now were there many passenger trains?
     Interviewee:   Yeah I was going to mention that next now. Yeah one from each direction
                    daily.
     Interviewer:   Were there many people on them?
     Interviewee:   Yeah there was lot of people traveling on them
     Interviewer:   What were most people traveling for? Were there mostly visitors?
20                  Interviewee: It took everybody. For instance; any one working somewhere
                    like Deer Lake depended on the train you know. There was no Trans Canada,
                    it was railroad. Had to go by train or by boat on the island.
     Interviewer:   Who ran the railway?
     Interviewee:   It was the Reid Newfoundland company first. They put the railway through.
                    Then it was taken over by the Newfoundland government.
     Interviewer:   Do you know what year that was?
     Interviewee:   No, but you might find that out and put that in.
21                  Interviewer: How did Reid run the railway?
     Interviewee:   With a very small engine, small rails, and small engines; only two or three
                    carts attached.
     Interviewer:   Why the slow speed?
     Interviewee:   Because there was small rails.
     Interviewer:   And they couldn’t support it?
     Interviewee:   No. They had to re-rail it twice or three times I believe during its lifetime.
22                  Interviewer: Was this smaller track cheaper to produce?
     Interviewee: It was much cheaper than it is today. An apprentice would get ten cents and
                    hour.
     Interviewer: I was wondering was it cheaper for the Reid company to run a small track
                    than it was to run a large track.
23                                  Interviewee:      Yes cheaper. Much cheaper. Everything was
                                    much cheaper than it is today.                               Just
                                    for fun I’ll show you a piece of the rail. Downstairs I’ll show
                                    you a                                     piece of it.
     (Pause to go downstairs)
     Interviewer: When the government took over the railway was there any change?
24                  Interviewee: Yes. They trains use to have coal run engines and then they
                    got larger and heavier engines.
     Interviewer: What did they burn?
     Interviewee: They still burnt coal. They converted there coal burning engines to oil
                    burning engines.
     Interviewer: Why was this?
     Interviewee: The idea was to try and prevent forest fires through the country.
25                  Interviewer: What was the problem with the coal burning?
     Interviewee: It would shoot sparks through the stack. It would cause fires you know.
     Interviewer: These oil burning did not cause sparks?
     Interviewee: No not like the others.
26                  Interviewer: Was the track ever enlarged?
     Interviewee: Yes, it was enlarged with heavier rails.
     Interviewer: Were the trains larger and longer.
     Interviewee: Yes.
     Interviewer: Would it pull more than two or three cars?
     Interviewee: Yeah when they started pulling like that they would pull between 17 to 20
                    cars.
     Interviewer: Was this the reason they made a track every year?
27                  Interviewee: They did it as it prospered. And we had another change.
     Interviewer: What was that?
     Interviewee: They had to study on these diesel motors. Diesel-electric motors.
     Interviewer: When did the engines change to Diesel-electric?
     Interviewee: Say around 6 or 8 years ago.
28                  Interviewer: 1973 or 1974. So that is a recent one.
     Interviewee: Yeah that is the most recent one.
                    You probably have seen a Diesel anyway.
     Interviewer: I have from a distance.
                    When you work on the train, how did the mill effect the railway? Did it
                    increase business?
     Interviewee: Oh yeah.
     Interviewer: What types of things would the train have carried?
29                  Interviewee: It took what the mill needed because that was the only
                    way...besides boat.
     Interviewer: Did the train carry very many people coming in to work at the mill?
     Interviewee: Oh yeah. That’s the way many of them came. We also had a coastal boat.
     Interviewer: How many times a year would this coastal boat have run?
30                  Interviewee: From the time the ice cleared in the Spring until it would
                    affect here in the fall, in the Winter you know. Some years freight would be
                    left over and wouldn’t be able take it to get here.
31                  Interviewer: In the early days was the railway station in Humber Mouth
                    built before you started to work as an apprentice?
     Interviewee:   Oh yeah, there was a station.
     Interviewer:   Why did they decide to build it there, instead of Corner Brook or Curling?
     Interviewee:   When business started to boom it was disqualified and built in Corner Brook.
32                  Interviewer: But, why did they build it in Humber Mouth when there were
                    more people in Curling?
33                  Interviewee: When the traffic expanded it needed a lot of room. But, when
                    the gypsine son and cement plant took up so much of the yard that their only
                    move was to move to Corner Brook.
34                  Interviewer: What I am wondering is, the original machine shop that was
                    constructed before the mill was constructed in the early 1900s why was it
                    built in Humber Mouth?
     Interviewee:   That was the only shop because the other shop was owned by Bowater. They
                    needed to build a shop of there own.
35                  Interviewer: Did the depression in Newfoundland in the 1930s affect the
                    railway?
     Interviewee:   Yeah I think it did.
     Interviewer:   In what way, what types of things were cut back?
     Interviewee:   There was a cut back in handling of local freight.
     Interviewer:   What type of things?
     Interviewee:   I would say that the man that suffered the most were the farmers on the west
                    coast.
     Interviewer:   They suffer the most during the depression?
36                  Interviewee: Yes, see because they sold their produce for so little. And then
                    they couldn’t afford to ship it and the railway felt it as well.
     Interviewer:   So the traffic decreased because the farmer could not afford to ship their
                    produce.
     Interviewee:   Yeah, they brought them down. The railway lost that depression amount.
     Interviewer:   Did the railway decrease in it fees?
     Interviewee:   They ran less trains for one thing.
37                  Interviewer: What I mean is did they charge less for transporting good to
                    build up traffic, did they ever do that?
     Interviewee:   No, they were not that kind of people. No, they don’t do that stuff. There was
                    no deduction in price. The deduction they made would be less trains and not
                    to carry so much.
38                  Interviewer: What about War. America build their bases in Stephenville.
                    Did this result in much more business for the railway business?
     Interviewee:   Yes, it stepped up the railway business yes.
     Interviewer:   What types of things would they have carried for the Americans?
     Interviewee:   There was the transportation of lumber, cement, stone, and a lot of steel
                    structure came in as well.
39                  Interviewer: Was there much traffic of good from Corner Brook to
                    Stephenville?
     Interviewee:   Oh yeah quite a bit.
     Interviewer:   Would Corner Brook as served as the main supply area?
     Interviewee:   They did the lumber. They did their best to supply the need for lumber as
                    much as possible.
     Interviewer:   And the railway carried this lumber to Stephenville?
     Interviewee:   By car, by train yeah.
     Interviewer:   Did Luncheon’s, have a mill of his own?
40                  Interviewee: Yeah he had a big mill out on the west side they and he still
                    has it.
     Interviewer:   And he supplied most of the lumber to Stephenville?
     Interviewee:   Yeah as much as he could get.
     Interviewer:   Do you remember any other business men?
41                  Interviewee: I don’t know...
     Interviewer:   So did many of the Americans come here to buy stuff?
42                  Interviewee: Yeah, the railway had a coach that use to carry what... carry 50
                    people and every Saturday they use to send one of us over and then Sunday
                    night it would go back to the base again.
     Interviewer:   And where would the American service men go in Corner Brook for
                    entertainment?
     Interviewee:   They would go to the hotels in Port aux Port.
     Interviewer:   There was no special club?
43                  Interviewee: No, they just came in for the weekend you know.
     Interviewer:   Did you hear of many Corner Brook girls marry American service men?
     Interviewee:   Some of them. I don’t now how many now, but some got married.
44                  Interviewer: When the war officially began did Corner Brook seem like a
                    more prosperous place?
     Interviewee:   Oh yeah, it stepped up the speed of things and you were seeing more
                    American personal you know.
     Interviewer:   At this point in 1939-40 the Americans were not in war, but from talking to
                    the American service men did you get the idea that they thought they would
                    eventually go into the war against the Germans?
45                  Interviewee: Well no, I didn’t have that much dealings with them.

46                  Interviewer:   My tape is nearly over now and I’d like to thank-you very
                    much.

				
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