Friday, December 29, 2017

CPR Rules and Wages: Telegraphers, Agents and Dispatchers, 1920 - Part 2

Here are the locations of, and the wages paid in 1920, to telegraphers and related occupations on the Canadian Pacific Railway's Western Lines. 

By considering the occupations assigned to work at a particular location ... you can imagine the type of work, the workload, and the importance of the train operations based there ... or the value of the CPR business (passenger or freight) generated there. 

It may also be possible to judge workload/responsibility by comparing the wages for a given occupation at various locations. 

... A solitary resident (business) Agent (also working as a telegraph Operator) at a quiet prairie branchline station would have different remuneration from a Third Operator working at a busy terminal or in a train dispatching office. 

... An Agent where high-value mine-product freight traffic originated would be paid differently from one working in an agricultural region where workload peaked during the fall harvest. 

... Then consider the reputational value to the CPR ... of the work done by the Agent at premier CPR resort locations at which customers' private (passenger) cars might be spotted!

*  *  *

Illustrations have been added to break up this solid block of data. In every case, the photographs were taken closer to 1900 than to 1920.

The rules from this booklet, Pages 1-20, were previously posted.

You can see them here.

Considering inflation:

$150 in 1920 is approximately equivalent to $1700 in 2017
$250 in 1920 is approximately equivalent to $2850 in 2017

Considering income taxes:

After the Great War, the basic exemption for a single person was $1500.
And 4% income tax was payable on the balance of our workers' incomes.

These income taxes were introduced to pay for the debt accumulated
through Canada's participation in the War.

*  *  *

Thinking of this era in Canadian financial history:

Breadwinners paid out of pocket for their family's health care - there wasn't much to buy.
Widespread building and maintenance of hard-surface intercity roads had not begun.

... so, relatively speaking, governments only did a few basic things like ...

Spending money on basic public health programs, eg. quarantining people.
Paying steel companies (aka 'bounty hunters') to make steel in Canada.
Obtaining revenue from all sorts of import duties on goods, esp. those made of steel.

The list above is not all-inclusive!
... but you can imagine it was 'a very different time'.

*  *  *

The Aristocrats of Labour

.. is the term often used to describe the well-paid work of
(white, male) unionized railway employees back then.

Unused, undated postcard.

Not Aristocrats

The grain harvesting procedures of the era required a massive infusion of labour from the east.
Railways operated special harvest excursion trains - bringing in both experienced farm hands and other general labour.
The worker-applicant bought or received a discounted round-trip ticket.
Wages would be paid at the end of the harvest.

*  *  *

Anecdotally, regarding the railways' harvest excursions of the late 1920s and early 1930s ...
My father-in-law said that they provided harvesters from the east with new clothes,
and their old clothes were surrendered to be burned.

( ... to reduce the spread of parasites in the harvesters' accommodations, cf 'public health programs'.)

Those who retrieved their old clothes were immediately sent back east.


Furthermore, the harvest excursion trains stopped at every small place there was a house.

If a place had two houses - they stopped twice.

... He was quite a joker.

Unused, undated postcard.

from: Snow War, An illustrated history of Rogers Pass, Glacier National Park, BC; John G Woods; 1983; National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada.

The old-style main track switchstands and train order signal are nicely shown in this photo.
Rogers Pass was no longer in use when this booklet was printed - it was bypassed by the Connaught Tunnel in December 1916.

Above:  The first Rogers Pass station was located about 2 miles northeast of the pass summit from 1886 until 1899. This view is from the summer of 1898. Seven months later an avalanche destroyed the station and killed seven people including the night operator, a wiper, a cook, and the day operator and his family. This dangerous location was abandoned and the station was built closer to the summit.

from: The Great Glacier and Its House; William Lowell Putnam; 1982; American Alpine Club.

The Beavermouth, British Columbia station was photographed in 1908.
Notice the kerosene platform light.

This postcard was mailed to England. The postmark date is not legible.
There is a notation at the right edge of this postcard.