My brother F.E.Laking (Ted) and I were born in the CNR station at Ardill, Sk. where our father was the agent/operator. I have his handwritten memo book, leather-bound,( 'Compliments of Montreal Shirt &overall Co. Ltd, Montreal, Can. - "Wear Faultless brand shirts and overalls"-' ) with his career history, ORT number, etc. The early listings were for one or two weeks as relief agent/operator. Ardill was his first permanent station, and he evidently felt ready to engage in matrimony.
Ed was born in 1898 in Owen Sound, Ont. to W.E.Laking and his wife Florence (nee Rands) of Shelburne. The family came west to the CPR station at Woleseley in what was then the District of Assiniboia, North-West Territories, when Ed was two years old. There is a lot of history there.
As to the memo book, any old-timers or their families who may be left, will get a smile out of Ed's first memo to himself, dated 1917: "Started Aug 15, 1918".
Quote, "Never under any circumstances tell the dispatcher anything you are not sure of". End quote.
I asked him where it came from and he said, "Experiences of many ORT personnel". His father W.E.(Willy or Will) Laking was the night dispatcher at Radville Sk for many years. He had been a Grand Trunk and CPR agent/operator before that and worked from the Toronto yards in the 1890s. (Will's brother-in-law to be, Syd Rands of Shelburne ON taught him telegraphy, according to a Laking family history). Will was a "bug" expert, could send faster than most operators could copy on the first go. This is all the background I have on his ORT history, though he was a great story-teller, loved to reminisce whenever a few old cronies got together at the end of a run. Occasionally we lads got to stay up to hear them, a great experience.
Willy in turn taught my dad, Ed, telegraphy when he was 17. Ed had the advantage of being naturally ambidextrous; he could send with either hand while copying with the other. His handwriting shows the characteristic breaks that go with the letter codes. He was fast, could read his father's hand, but not a 'bug' man himself.
Although his work history begins in 1917, Ed officially signed on with the CNR 2 May, 1918, his certificate #328 When he retired as supervisory agent at Watrous, Sk in 1963, he ended a service of 45 years, 2 months, #10 on the Agent/Operator list.
When Ed died, we had attached to his headstone this representation of the ORT telegraph key pin, with '30' added to signify "sign off ... end of message". The original resin grave cover did not hold up in prairie climate, had it replaced this year with a bronze tablet. Remco Memorials Ltd (the casting company) was able to duplicate the original insignia from a rubbing. It is now included in their catalogue of motifs that can be attached to grave markers, available through funeral directors.
Submitted by son R.T.(Bud) Laking, Major, Canadian Armed Forces (Logistics Branch) ret.