OTTAWA – Three railroaders were inducted into the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame today to mark their milestones as Leader, Hero and for Industry Achievement. They made definitive contributions to the industry during their careers. One is still active, one is retired and the third is being honoured posthumously.
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Keith Hunt, a native of Frome, Ontario in 1923, rose from an apprentice electrician to corporate vice-president of CN. Jim F. Munsey, born in Edmonton, began his railway career as a Morse code telegrapher. He worked in various operational management positions across Canada, including as regional safety manager for the CN Management Region during the 1980’s.
Steve Harvey, a native of Montreal and an 18-year employee of GO Transit working as a System Safety Officer in Toronto, has been awarded a Canadian Railway Hall of Fame Industry Achievement Award for his work in promoting rail safety to the public.
The community of Capreol, a CN divisional point in northern Ontario for the past 90 years, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August to mark its birthday during a family reunion, other events and the community’s restoration of steam locomotive 6077.
The Railway Hall of Fame was created in 2002 by the Railway Association of Canada with the support of its 55 member railways, the Canadian Northern Society of Alberta and the Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers. Since then, some 75 nominees have been inducted on its website at www.railfame.ca and in an interpretative park at Big Valley, Alberta that has already attracted more than 20,000 visitors.
Steve Harvey coordinates and conducts emergency responder training, emergency preparedness exercises, and trespass prevention programs in addition to other system safety related functions. He has been involved with Operation Lifesaver since 1992 and is a certified Presenter-Trainer for the program.
Prior to joining the new System Safety Department of GO Transit five years ago, he was a member of their Prosecution and Transit Enforcement departments. Steve coordinates community safety outreach programs and also sits on the Operation Lifesaver Program Review Committee and previously, the Direction 2006 Education Key Results Area.
In 2003, Steve accepted the Award of Excellence (National Transportation Week Ontario) from the Minister of Transportation for the design and implementation of GO Transit's Near Collision Reporting Program. In a recent American Public Transportation Association (APTA) audit, the Near Collision Program with the embedded on-board recording process was recognized as an effective industry leading practice.
Hero Jim Munsey’s example is proof that once railroading gets “in your blood” – it’s pretty difficult to lose the interest. In 2008, Jim continued to take an interest in the industry, and many weekends visitors to the Alberta Railway Museum in Edmonton can find him “working the key” in the St. Albert station telegraph office, demonstrating the art of Morse telegraphy which has vanished as a mainstream form of communication.
Well-respected by his peers and fellow railroaders, Jim’s career began in the late 1940’s as an assistant agent. Agency work at local railway depots across Canada was the training ground for many railroaders and allowed new entrants to the industry to experience both railway operations and the commercial side of the business by selling services such as express freight, carload shipping, and passenger and steam ship tickets.
Prior to the era of the internet or electronic mail, the railway provided a critical role in long distance communication through its telegraph services where messages, money, and news were all “broadcast over the wire” by way of the railway telegraph network.
In the early days of North American railroading, telegraphy was the primary means of transmitting train orders – written instructions to ensure the safe movement of trains and engines. Learning his craft, Mr. Munsey was promoted and worked in various operational management positions including the position of Regional Safety Manager for the CN Mountain Region during the 1980’s.
Jim’s contribution to the railway industry came in many forms, including re-vamping operating timetables for consistency and for the benefits of train crews who were the primary users. His work with the Morse Telegraphers Club and in-depth knowledge of railway rules and operating practice made him an excellent system resource and educator. It was his experience that helped him develop new and improved operating rules and instructions that enhanced both safety and efficiency. Many are still in use today.
Leader Keith Hunt was a man whose talents, ethics, and passion for his work allowed him to rise from apprentice electrician to railway vice president. Growing up in London, Mr. Hunt started his career on the Canadian National Railways for thirty one cents per hour in the railway’s shops.
His family explains that given his 6 foot two stature and athletic abilities, he might have ended up playing professional baseball had World War II not intervened and saw him head overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force where he flew as a pilot officer in the 437 “Husky” Squadron in the European theatre.
Returing from the War, Mr. Hunt went back to London and learned to maintain diesel locomotives which were about to replace the steam engine on CN. In 1951, he received an Engineering degree from Queen’s University. Rising through the ranks, Mr. Hunt held a number of operations management positions including Superintendent.
While in Toronto in the 1970’s and as Vice President of the Great Lakes Region, he was involved in the construction of the now world-famous CN Tower. A keen and knowledgeable operating officer, Mr. Hunt was recognized by his colleagues and employees for his attention to safety and concern for the grass roots railroaders who every day – without fanfare – made sure that the railway ran safely and delivered the best possible service to its customers.
His career had an influence on railroaders from Montreal to Battle Creek to Belleville. Never forgetting the railway’s contribution to history, Mr. Hunt was instrumental in the return of famed CN steam locomotive 6060 in excursion service on the railway. This legacy continues today with its preservation and operation on the Alberta Prairie Railway. Mr. Hunt died in April, 2008 in Toronto. He is survived by his wife Marion and daughters Lynn, Dawn, and Victoria.