Souris wins Bantam BB Provincial baseball 1962

   CPR Storekeeper Gordon Crowe (no relation to Morgan & his brother Gordon) came to work in CPR stores at Souris in mid 1950’s. He was from Winnipeg and introduced “Little League” baseball to Souris. There were 4 teams established, namely, CPR, Legion, Kiwanis & Elks. Shortly after the Legion, Kiwanis & Elks agreed to donate $500.00 each for a Recreational Director for July & August. The first one hired was Al Robertson from Hamiota.
I remember asking CPR Engineer Bill Roney, what he thought of our new Rec.Director, and Bill replied “Anyone who can work my son (Allan) for 2 hours on a ball diamond and then when Allan comes home at noon and sleeps for an hour, is an OK person as far as I’m concerned”.
    Gordie Lyall was the Rec. Director in Souris from July 1 to Aug. 15, 1962. I was CPR Station Agent at Nesbitt (22 miles East of Souris) and as a Past President of Souris Little League I kept in communication with them.                                                                           

   Jim Down (brother to Souris Butcher Harry Down) used to bring his Brandon Little League team to play our Nesbitt team once a year for an exhibition game. After the game he told me that  we should enter our team into the Provincial Playdowns because he thought we had one of the best pitchers in Manitoba. I called President Al Richardson at Morden to see if we could get entered, but he said that the draw was already made and mailed out. I said that I felt that I was responsible for these players losing the chance to compete in the playoffs. He suggested that I take players to closest team entered. I asked about taking them to Souris. And he said that was okay.

  I met Gordie Lyall and Bob Sanderson later and asked them if they had the full complement of 18 players on their team. They said they had room for 4 more and I asked them if they wanted to win the Provincial Championship, because I had some players that could help their team out. They said bring them to their next game. The four players I had in mind were Mark Fisher (a good Nesbitt Pitcher & good batter), Grant Everard (another good pitcher), Don Brown ( a relief pitcher) and Greg Leachman (a third baseman who was also good at bat).The last 3 boys were from Wawanesa.

    We won the Manitoba Provincial Bantam BB Championship in Morden,MB September Labour Day weekend of 1962. The Souris Elks Lodge hosted a dinner and donated individual trophies to each player. Two players on this team were sons of CPR employees, namely George Davis (son of Engineer Norm Davis) and Paul     Eliuk (son of Sectionman Conrad Eliuk) also Gary Davidson was son of CPR Watch Inspector Allan Davidson. Another boy who would have been on this team was Andy Murray (who later became NHL hockey coach) but he was on vacation during this playoff session.Later in life, Garry Davidson would become owner of Junior Hockey team, (The Portland Winterhawks), Greg Cameron, Grant Everard, Mark Fisher and Gordie Lyall would become inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame. Please see photo below. Click your cursor on it to enlarge. Click a 2nd time and it will enlarge more. I have added 2 notes at top right hand corner and bottom right hand corner of the photo about Little Leaguers Keith Edwards and Bob Neufeld.

    There was another player named Keith Edwards who would have been on this team. I left this part of the story for the last of this article. Keith was playing ball in June 1962 when he developed a strong headache, and his coach Murray Zuk took him out of the game. He went home complaining of a bad headache. He died in an ambulance enroute to Winnipeg. The attending Dr. declared that Keith had suffered from a ruptured aneurysm.The team and management along with the Souris B.P.O. Elks Lodge #21 decided that a posthumous trophy be delivered to Keith’s family at an appropriate time. It was the saddest Christmas Eve of my life. I went around to the Edwards home just before midnight Dec. 24th 1962, after Keith’s Sister Joan & younger Brother Clare were in bed. His Mother Florence was busy putting together a bike for Clare for Christmas and I helped her. Finally, I said to Florence that I had a sad duty and presented her with the trophy. Surprisingly she was very happy to receive it. We cried and we hugged. It was placed on their mantle. Trainman/Conductor Al Edwards (father to Keith) was out on a CPR run at the time. They were very proud and happy to receive it. (This story was written by Ferg Devins)

The Royal Train, Elkhorn, MB. Oct 17, 1951

Above left is picture of Princess Elizabeth & Duke of Edinburgh on rear of Royal Train at London Ont. on Oct. 14th, 1951. At centre is Page 1 and at right is page 2 of a letter that I sent to my parents the morning after the Royal Train went through Elkhorn, Man. on Oct. 17, 1951. I was the CP Operator on duty for Royal Train. Below please find a revised version of these 2 pages, which explains the experience more specifically.Click your cursor on all small pictures to enlarge them. At the bottom you can find copies of clearances and train orders issued to trains involved. Click on them too…This is history shared with you….Ferg Devins.

Kirkella, MB,Oct. 17/51

Dear Folks,…Well I got back to Elkhorn on Monday…and into the old routine again. Worked at Elkhorn until 8 a.m. today, and into bed by 9:00 a.m….Then was called at 11:50 a.m. to go to Kirkella to clear the branch way freight from the Neudorf/McCauley subs, onto the Broadview sub (Main Line). So am sitting here waiting for it & decided to drop you a line.

Well the Royal Trains went through Elkhorn this morning with officials on each train. Ahead of the passenger Extra trains was regular passenger train #1 at 2.37. Maurice Roach (Assistant Superintendent from Minnedosa) was on it. Then Passenger Extra 2861 West (the Press Train) with Assistant Superintendent Barney O. Fryer from Souris, arrived at 2:59 and departed at 3:10. The Royal Train ,Passenger Extra 2863 West with Superintendent Wood from Brandon attending it arrived at 4:58 and left at 5:05.  RCMP and officials were all over it. There were about half dozen people down to see it and 5 cops (3 from Virden and 2 from Elkkhiorn). I was standing on the platform after it arrived and this guy came up and asked if I was the Operator on duty. I told him I was. He asked me my name and I told him. He said “Well, my name is Thompson” and we shook hands and stood around, shooting the breeze for 5 or 10 minutes. After he left I discovered that he was the CPR Vice-President. He seemed like a very nice person.

Eastbouind passenger train #2 arrived at 3:46 and couldn’t make Hargrave in time to clear these 3 trains by 30 minutes and so it had to pull into the number two passing track at Elkhorn because the siding switches at Reaper were spiked closed. After #2 pulled into passing track the section men spiked the east switch closed and then pulled spikes after the Royal Train was by. No. 2 sat at Elkhorn from 3:46 until 5:00. I had to make 3 copies of train orders for train #1, 4 copies for the press train and 5 sets for the Royal Train. But they were only slow orders, which were already on the hook when I came on duty at 24 O’clock All freight trains had to be in the clear 5 hours ahead of the Royal Train, but there were none on the Broadview Subdivision. There was no sign of the Princess and Duke, just Mounties, Officials and Train Crews. Speed limit was 35 mph. Royal Train was sure shined up and coaches from CNR & CPR. I could see into some of them and they were really fixed up nice.

I was wrong about the Royal Couple going to Rivers.They will be passing through there on return trip via CNR on Sunday Oct. 28th.

That’s all the news for now. So will sign off and see you on Sunday. Bye for now…Fergie.

(Please note…The reason that all trains stopped at Elkhorn was so they could take on more coal and water for the engines. The engines 2861 and 2863 on the “Press train” and the “Royal train” were oil burners and only required to take on more water, which meant they took less time at Elkhorn than the usual trains. Also Princess Elizabeth’s father King George sixth died a few months after this tour and she became Queen of England, and the Commonwealth, and is still the Queen in 2018)

You might be wondering why the spaces on these clearances shown below are filled in with a short dash, instead of the “Train ahead, etc”. The Broadview subdivision consisted of double track from Brandon to Virden, then single track, Virden to Whitewood, and double track again Whitewood to Broadview. The single track portion was Automatic Block System and trains were controlled by Automatic block signals, so it was not necessary to fill in that portion of the “Clearance form” as shown below…..FD

May 21st 1949, CPR Man and young lad drown below Souris River Dam


It is our sad duty this week to record the deaths of Norman Douglas “Doc” Croll 45, and Raymond Harold Jacobson, 11 , who met death by drowning at the Souris dam at 7:45 on Saturday evening.

The two were occupants of a boat which capsized in the churning waters below the dam, while attempting to recover lost fishing tackle. Onlookers and fishermen in the vicinity were powerless to lend assistance as no boats were available for rescue work. Both victims were swept about 200 yards downstream in the swift current. According to eye-witnesses Mr. Croll was last seen treading the cold water with the Jacobson boy in his arms. He suddenly disappeared and it is presumed he sank from exhaustion.

Dragging operations commenced immediately and the man’s body was recovered an hour later close to where he was last seen. Artificial respiration was applied. The lad’s body was brought to the surface at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.

When the news spread through the town that Norman Croll had met his death by drowning, it was pretty hard to believe, as he was noted for his aquatic skill. Being an expert swimmer, he had served as a lifeguard in time past at the Souris docks and had assisted several times in bringing bodies to the surface when bathers had gotten into difficulties.

Second son of Dr. and Mrs. H. A. Croll, Norman Croll was born in Souris on July 23rd, 1904. He attended the local Public School and Collegiate Institute and later entered the employ of the C. P. R.  At the time of his death he was a yard switch Foreman. He was a member of the Trainmen’s Organization.

He had an aptitude for electrical work and carried on the business of an electrical contractor as a sideline.

He was a Captain and Quartermaster, 12th Manitoba Dragoons, in militia, and Sergeant in the Second World War (Canada).

In his boyhood days he was associated with Boy Scout work and later was a member of the Souris Citizens band. He had a membership with the Game and Fish Association. In fraternal circles he was a member of the Masonic Order.

Besides his parents, who were to have celebrated their Golden Wedding this week, Mr Croll is survived by brother and sister. H. Murray Croll and Mrs. R. J. Alley (Eva), both of Winnipeg.

St. Luke’s Anglican Church was filled to overflowing for the funeral service on Monday afternoon, May 23rd. The large number of floral tributes were silent testimonies of the high esteem in which the deceased was held. Rev. George G. Morrison officiated. Active pallbearers were Harry W. Forrest, Lyall McMorran, Frank Stockden, Charles Lewis, George Kempthorne, J. B. Mitchell Jr., honorary pallbearers: Harold Fallis, Frank Mote, Harry Strawn, of the Canadian Legion; C. F. Cooke, John Stevens, James Strawn representing the Trainmen.

A Masonic service was conducted at the graveside and burial was made in Glenwood Cemetery.


Raymond Harold Jacobson was a son of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Jacobson. The family has resided here since the close of the Second Great War. Mr. Jacobson was stationed at the Souris Airport and later took up residence in Souris to follow his profession as photographer.

Raymond was born at Midale, Sask. Besides his parents, he is survived by two brothers and a sister, Jimmie aged 8, Roger, 5; Norma, 14. He was a Grade VI pupil at the Souris Public School. At the Empire Day exercises which were to have been held at the School on Monday May 23rd, Raymond was to have been presented with a first prize for Art work, given by Plum Creek Chapter I. O. D. E.

The funeral was held on Tuesday afternoon, May 24th at 2:30 from St. Paul’s United Church. Rev. C. S. Matchett and Rev. G. S. Laggo conducted the service. Miss Lydia Williams of Brandon sang “Safe In The Arms Of Jesus.”  Pallbearers were Gwyn Griffiths, Harold Brown, Gerald Abrey and Richard Abrey.

Burial was made in Glenwood Cemetery.


American Morse Code Used on North American Railroads

The Telegraph machines were invented before the Telephone.

(Please Click your cursor on “The American Morse Code” in line 3 below for an explanation from Wikipedia about Codes)

There were two Morse Codes. The first was  the International Morse Code which was used by “Ham Radio Operators”, ships at sea, and the military Army, Navy and Air Force. The second Morse Code was the The American Morse Code used by North American Railroads. There were 10 letters different between the 2 codes. The Railroad Telegrapher was a very important employee. He was the middleman between the Train Dispatcher and the employees on the Trains. The Railroads required communication from the railhead construction site to their headquarters with daily reports on how many miles had been laid that day. Some Railroad Telegraphers learned the code by going to Telegraph Schools. Others became Assistant Agents, and learned from the Agent and practised on the Telegraph key and memorized the Rule Book while off-duty. They wrote an examination on rules, and if they passed that, they were sent out as relief Telegraphers until obtaining enough seniority to hold down a permanent position. Another position was the Commercial Telegrapher, who handled Commercial Telegrams and Newspaper traffic, and also communicated with Commercial Telegrams to the Railroad Telegrapher Agents. The experienced Railroad Telegrapher could advance his employment to becoming a Station Agent, or a Train Dispatcher when his seniority allowed.. They were held in great esteem by the Public and the Officials.