Writ­ten April 26, 1991 by Dave Jenk­ins (Grand­son of George Jenk­ins, Sectionman)

    The Jenk­ins fam­i­ly of Souris were all Rail­road men, start­ing with my Grand­fa­ther George. He brought his fam­i­ly of 8 chil­dren to Ver­mil­lion Bay, in West­ern Ontario, from Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land in April 1893. Here. he worked as a sec­tion hand for the C.P.R. until 1903 when he moved to Souris, Man­i­to­ba. He then was the Cross­ing-man cum “flag­man” for 20 years.

    My Father, Nathaniel (Nat) start­ed work with CPR as a pump man in Ver­mil­lion Bay, when he was 17 in 1900. At 18 he went to Ignace, Ont. as a shop hostler and then to Port Arthur, as a fire­man, in 1901. In 1902, he trans­ferred to Win­nipeg as a Fire­man. In 1903, he went to Souris, as a Fire­man (tem­porar­i­ly). How­ev­er, as he had “writ­ten info” as an Engi­neer he was giv­en an Engi­neers job. The CPR had to get a spe­cial per­mit for him to run an engine, as he was­n’t 21. He then ran an engine until 1909 or 1910, when he was set back for 3 months to “fir­ing”. He was “set-up” to Engi­neer, and remained an engi­neer until 1948, when he retired with 48 years pen­sion­able ser­vice. His last 10 years were served in Win­nipeg. He moved to Vic­to­ria and was very active until his death in 1970 from nat­ur­al old age causes.

My Uncle Har­ry Jenk­ins. a year younger than Dad worked for the C.P.R. as a teenag­er. He changed his job and went to work for  the C.N.R. for 44 years at Radville, Sask. His name was on the plaque about bridg­ing the Souris Riv­er with the Souris Swing­ing bridge.

My Uncle Oscar Jenk­ins at 20 years of age, ran a steam shov­el for the C.P.R. in the Fras­er Canyon in B.C. He went to WW 1 and was an Engi­neer on an ammu­ni­tion train in France for 3 years. He returned to Souris and worked in the CPR Round­house steam plant until he retired after 42 years service.

My Uncle George Jenk­ins Jr., the youngest of this rail­road fam­i­ly, start­ed work­ing as a call boy, at age 15. He went through all phas­es of becom­ing an Engi­neer, and retired, in 1962 with 44 years of CPR ser­vice. In his twen­ties he also worked on the CPR Bridge & Build­ing gangs dur­ing sum­mers as a painter and car­pen­ter. He passed away in 1978.

Dad (Nathaniel) used to recount many sto­ries of his rail­road career. My sis­ters Nora and Esther and broth­er Wal­ter have talked these tales over and the fol­low­ing, we think are worth repeating.

1)  For many years Nat worked the mixed train to and from Lyle­ton, 3 days away, or 4 if he caught the Sun­day lay away. One Christ­mas eve while trav­el­ling in a bliz­zard, he stopped the train for no appar­ent rea­son. Con­duc­tor Bil­ly Stokes walked up from the rear end to find out the cause of the stop. There was no appar­ent cause but Dad and the Fire­man, Jack Sprout walked ahead for about two hun­dred yards and found a sleigh (grain box) with two hors­es stuck on the right-of-way. In the sleigh was a drunk­en man, passed out, and a small girl, 3 or 4 years old. It appeared that the team was pro­ceed­ing on their own and when they came to the tracks, they turned to fol­low the rails. The sleigh run­ner was wedged between the rail and the cross­ing planks and this had halt­ed all move­ment. It took about an hour to free the sleigh. The man sobered up enough to dri­ve off with his child.

2) One year in the 1920’s, all the prairie sloughs were very full of water, from many rain storms. By fall, the sloughs had hun­dreds of ducks in them.. Dad was work­ing the Arco­la way freight. His Fire­man was Len Lit­tle­ford. They left Arco­la at day­light, with a shot­gun avail­able for duck shoot­ing. The train was stopped at every slough that touched the right-of-way and they bagged ducks all the way to Souris. When they got to Souris they had four large grain bags of ducks, which were dis­trib­uted around town.

3) The win­ter of 1921/22 had many snow storms. The Lyle­ton mixed train took 3 weeks to make the 3 day trip. Most of the time the train was stuck in a snow bank near Alids, Sask. (Edi­tor’s note “see pic­ture of 6 engine snow plow in 1922, west of Kil­lar­ney, Man.”)

4) On May 8, 1950, a snow plow was dis­patched from Souris to get the Lyle­ton mixed train out of heavy snow near Delo­raine. This was, at that time, the lat­est known date for a CPR snow plow to be used in South­ern Manitoba.

5) In 1907 and 1908, dad ran the engine for the work train that built the Reston-Wolse­ley branch line. In the 1960’s his broth­er George ran the engine on the work train that tore up and recov­ered the mate­r­i­al on this same branch line.

This web­site appre­ci­ates the above Jenk­ins story.