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The Last Mayor of Franz

When I started there in 1977, Jim Frame had left and was working days at the Soo (CP) on Oakland Ave. Bill Card was the last CP Operator to work there as I went up to sign over the agency reports. He had a couple guys that used to relieve him, Pete Dzioba and another older chap with a bit of speech impediment. Along with Eveline Jardine, who married an engineer at Chapleau and Louise Gionet who married Pat Connelly worked there for a while.

Gerry Howe was the first ACR swing man who worked on Saturday and Sunday. I had these two days off for the first few years and then it was Sunday and Monday. We had alot of "Swingers" from 1977 to 1991. Tom Jacques, who originally worked for CP in the 60's and 70's, came back to the ACR in the first part of the 80's. He was the last one married in the little church up behind the house. Her name was Dorothy Tangie. Her dad worked at Dubreuiville Lumber after the Ministry of Forests moved out of Franz. Bonita Matthews was next. She stayed for a couple years and got married to an ACR trainman.

Gary Montgomery and Ted Ellis came for a short period of time in the 1980's. Brad Pantilla from Hawk Jct, stayed the longest on the ACR Swing. He was a younger chap that liked the bush life and later went dispatching at the Soo. Perry Wilson and Marlene Tomas were probably the last two on the swing job before they cut it off in 1987.

Jim O'Leary used to relieve me for the holidays from 1986 to 1991. His brother Jack (J.A.) O'Leary was the agent at Franz when I first started with the ACR in 1967. George Allan used to work day day shift then, J. R. (Woody) Woodruff was on 4 to 12 and Charlie Sykes was the 12 to 8am man. They had the train order signal there then and I think they stopped using it about 1973 or 1974, as it used to be left on all the time and the CP deactivated it after they got everyone used to the C.T.C.

CPR dispatchers at the time were George Lengyl (GTL), Bud Alward (WAA) Yvan Beauparlant (YB), Bill Mitchell (WCM), Woody Woodruff (JRW), John Slobodian (JMS) and Ed McLeod (EDM) along with a host of relief people. The ARC dispatchers at the time were Mac Bain (MCB), Allan Wilson (ASW), Rod Montgomery (RDM), Rod McCall (RJM), George Scott (GDS), Robert Bain (RWB), Brad Pantilla (BJR) and Perry Wilson (PFW)

Occasionally, fast trains needed last minute orders.

The line on the ACR was 4 short and one long. We got to know the rings quite well over the years.Oba was 3 long rings. We had an R.S. Circuit where there was just one ring for the whole works. The Dispatchers Board was 9-5 for the selector for FRANZ. The CP had the old message phone we used to use for a back up in case of a derailment. It use to run along the signal line with a 9 volt battery attached to it. Sure was interesting in them days. We used to say when the chips were down."Lets get Railroadin."

The CP gave us a flagging kit, whenever ther was a derailment. we used to get train orders before the radio system was put on the trains in 1986. The ACR used the order board right up to the last day of service which was March 31, 1991. The position was abolished at 2359 on that day.

There were still a few families at Franz when I started there in 1977. Wynnes, Saunders, Nolans, Taylors, Goldens and Parises that I remember. The last school teacher was Pat Cowyper. She was from Hamilton and she married Gerry Howe, the first ACR swing man and they move to Wawa where she taught school over there. The school was closed in 1978 and they bussed the remaining six or seven kids out to Wawa for public or high school.

I looked after 3 or 4 Provincial or Federal Elections and there was about 15 to 20 names on the voters list from Goudreau, Franz, Swanson, Mosher and area. I had to go by motor car to get the names for the enumeration and voters list each time. We had the voting place set up at the little house. Carol Clement, who moved there in 1982, used to help me out with that, as she was born and raised in Lochalsh and came back somewhat single after after a few of life's experiences. A few years older than I was, but liked the single life.

I think I learned first aid at the place, patching up a few of the locals after the side shows would cease, and before the OPP constable would show up from either Wawa or Dubreuiville. Sometimes the situations were pretty hilarious, the old saying that truth was stranger than fiction sure ruled around that place. With all the going's on, that kept anyone working there both physically and mentally challenged.

Church services used to be held down at the Black's or Saunders' whenever the minister came in from Wawa. For a bit, the Anglican and Catholic used to share the service. They used to come two times a month and again for the Christmas service about a week before. I'd make up a buffet at the station and everyone would come up for a bit of a social gathering before the minister left town. The last chuch service was held in the station's waiting room when I was there in 1991. The alter was the split double dutch door leading from the waiting room into the old agent's office.

I enjoyed my fifteen years at Franz. I had several chances to go dispatching on both AC and CP, but got too comfortable being my own boss there working day shift. (Most of the time!) I qualified in 1991, but never worked a shift to establish my seniority on the list. I trained with MCB and RJM at the Soo before I went to Franz.



Email : Reg Fitzpatrick