Trainmaster, CP and former student at Lambton College
For Katie Pattemore, “different is good.”
When other kids were spending their teenaged years hanging out, in small Bancroft, Ontario, Katie was crisscrossing the central and east parts of the province competing in hockey tournaments.
While many of her peers are happy to see where life takes them, she’s a planner and a doer.
And when business school turned out not to be what she wanted, she found a new pursuit.
“I was 17 when I chose a mainstream academic university program,” she says. “Being in class, not seeing a practical aspect, and staring at the prospect of sitting in a classroom for another four years, it just was not for me.”
So, Katie went a different route completely.
“I didn’t know anything about trains, but I knew I wanted something hands on,” she recalls. “When I saw this program at Lambton College, I called, got more info, and registered.”
A newly graduated Katie joined CP in 2019 as an operations management trainee.
She found a mentor – another woman who worked as a trainmaster at CP’s London yards – and Katie soaked up her advice.
Eight months later, she became an assistant trainmaster. And 10 months later, she moved to Toronto as a trainmaster at a busy terminal serving Canada’s biggest city.
“It’s a fast-paced environment. Every day is different. You have a schedule, but with trains, things happen. You deal with deviations and through the plan. It’s how you deal with it that matters. And, at the end of the day, you can see the effort you’ve put into the work.”
Katie has only met three women that do what she does, though she understands there are a handful of others throughout the network.
She says she’s been “pretty lucky” and “appreciates the perspectives and cooperation from the guys. We’re all working together to accomplish the same goal.”
Despite living in Toronto, Katie remains close to family back in Bancroft. On days off, she will often go home to maintain a rural grounding while living in the city.
While she hasn’t ruled out perhaps giving business school another shot one day, she’s enjoying her found career, 2 and a half years in.
“Greater knowledge, greater experience, greater maturing…I have grown since starting,” Katie says. “I’m by myself and it’s up to me to figure things out by myself. It’s sink or swim, and I love it.”
As for whether she would recommend rail careers to other women and young people? “Absolutely. People just don’t know about it. I was surprised. I didn’t know.”
And that’s why this self-described quiet person is again getting out of her comfort zone to tell people about her experiences.
Get to know all of our panelist for the Women In Rail event here.