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CANADIAN RAILWAY TELEGRAPH HISTORY-Canadian Telegraphic Historical Newspaper Accounts

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Article Ninety-Four
Announced 24 September 1924

Benjamin S. Jenkins passes away on his homestead farm at Mellonville,

In the death of the late Benjamin S. Jenkins, former general
superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway telegraphs, which took
place on his farm near Mellonville, Man., on Monday evening, there
passed away a pioneer railway man whose many years of labor have left a
deep imprint on the development of this western country.
The late Mr. Jenkins came to this city at a period when the west needed
men of capacity and energy. He was born at Richmond Hill, in the county
of York, Ont., on April 8, 1859. His father was William Jenkins, son of
Rev. William Jenkins of Markham and Richmond Hill, one of the pioneer
ministers of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and first moderator of
the Toronto Presbytery in the United Secession church. Mr. Jenkins had a
standard school education and entered the service of the Montreal
Telegraph company at Madoc in 1874.
Later he entered the employ of the Dominion Telegraph company at Port
Perry, Ont., and the Montreal Telegraph company at Montreal. It was
while in this Montreal office that he first became associated with
Robert J. Penny, who is one of the veterans in the telegraph service in
the west.

Began in 1881

In September 1881, Mr. Jenkins' long service with the Canadian Pacific
railway began for in that month he became connected with the telegraph
department of the organization. E.A. James, who came from the same part
of the east as Mr. Jenkins, had preceded him to the west and was working
in the telegraph office in what is now St. Boniface, but was known as
Winnipeg Junction. Mr. James sent for Mr. Jenkins to assist him in the
little office and on Mr. Jenkins' arrival, they divided the duties. That
was before the railway had entered Winnipeg. The construction period of
the great enterprise was just starting and for the next two years Mr.
Jenkins worked in the west following up the line. He was in Brandon in
1883 when John M. Eagen, then superintendent of the railway, looking
around for an available man for the position of superintendent in the
telegraph department and he finally selected Mr. Jenkins. His
jurisdiction extended from Port Arthur to Medicine Hat.
Mr. Jenkins' appointment dated from July 1, 1883 and he was the first
executive head of the telegraphs in the west. In 1886 the railway began
a wider and more extended telegraph service and Mr. Jenkins was placed
in charge of the construction. He carried it out with remarkable energy
and vigorously prosecuted the work until it became a national system in
character. He was an efficient co-adjutor (sic) of the head of the
railway and was rewarded with the appointment, on Dec 1, 1889, of
general superintendent of telegraphs, western lines. His territory
extended from the great lakes to the western coast of Vancouver Island.

The system was further extended under Mr. Jenkins to 6,000 miles and
then to 10,000 miles with copper wire and all the latest improvements in
a modern telegraph system. Sam Edwards, still a resident of the city,
was superintendent of construction under Mr. Jenkins, and he also had
the capable assistance of John Tait, now district superintendent at
Nelson, B.C.
E. A. James, of Vancouver, who became the superintendent of the Manitoba
division of the C.P.R. and later general superintendent of the Canadian
National Railways, who arrived in the city on Monday night from his home
in Vancouver, paid a high tribute last night to Mr. Jenkins' work to a
group of friends who were discussing the death of the late official.

Retired in 1913

In 1913 Mr. Jenkins retired from the service of the company to enjoy a
well-earned honorarium, having been 32 years with the company and 40
years in telegraphy. With his two younger sons he took up three
homesteads in the northwestern part of the province, west of Lake
Manitoba, and farmed and stocked with cattle three quarters of a section
of land. One of the boys, William, who joined a Winnipeg regiment and
went to the front in the great war, was killed in France in 1917; the
second son, who homesteaded with him, had been graduated from Manitoba
University and had taken up the study of law and was called to the bar a
few years ago. He still practices in Mellonville and District, driving
in from the ranch to his office each day. The eldest son, Roy, is a

resident of Chicago and the widow and mother of the boys, lives with
them on the ranch.
While living in the city the late Mr. Jenkins was a member of Knox
Church, but his frequent absence on his manifold duties over the long
system, precluded him from having a very active connection with many
secret or benevolent societies. He was a member of the Manitoba club,
the Canadian club and of St. Andrews society. His frequent inspections
of the telegraph lines of the company brought him in touch with all the
officers and officials of the road and there is probably no one better
known on the great railway in the west, or whose services are more
appreciated by the rank and file, than the late Mr. Jenkins. He built a
beautiful home in East Gate, which he disposed when leaving the city,
but he always had the warmest feelings for the city's welfare and best
interests, and last February spent a few weeks here renewing pleasant
memories with a large number of his old friends. That was his last visit
to the city.
The remains of the late Mr. Jenkins reached the city yesterday afternoon
and are at J. Thomson and Sons. Lynne Jenkins, a son, and his mother,
will reach the city this morning and Roy, the eldest son, will arrive
from Chicago on Thursday morning. While definite arrangements have yet
to be completed, it is probable that the funeral will be held at 2
o'clock on Thursday from Thomson's Broadway funeral home to the Elmwood

Courtesy of Bill Jenkins, grand-nephew of above.

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