The original article is posted here

Delbert Reed (affectionately known as Deb) has always had a fascination with trains. Even despite the fact he was once hit by one.

The Orangeville man reminisced about his life with Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from the living room of his modest home on Elizabeth Street. The room is filled with memories of his family, his beloved wife Elizabeth and their two daughters, as well as grandchildren. Reed lays out his life, starting with the death of his father when he was nine, to his first job with CPR, to his current love for lawn bowling.

He is a proud man, talking of the many accomplishments in his life. But his proudest was the position he held with the railway. At the age of 15, Reed landed a job delivering telegraphs on his bike in his hometown of Owen Sound, Ont.

Known as a messenger boy, Reed worked his way up the ranks learning Morse Code, leading him to a job as a telegraph operator. Learning dots and dashes proved to be beneficial. His accuracy of the code found him being transferred to Niagara Falls for a short stint, but eventually returning to Owen Sound where he was promoted to express truck driver for CPR.

It was during this job that he had his encounter with a moving train.


“One day I was backing my truck up to the platform to load items, when my truck became stuck in the snow, I didn’t have snow tires on the truck,” Reed laughed. “There was a train on the tracks shunting cars into the station, the train crashed into the bumper and door. Boy, did I ever get heck for that.”

At the age of 21, newly wed for only three months, Reed and his wife moved to Lachine, Quebec, where he entered the air force, taking a job as a wireless operator. His knowledge of Morse Code translated into a full-time job, which later led to a teaching position at the University of Guelph.

He was also trained at the Clinton radar school.

“I took the course in radar. Once I graduated, I was sent to Ottawa, where I was responsible for finding enemy submarines in the St. Lawrence River,” Reed said.

In 1945, Reed was discharged from the army and returned to life at CPR. But life in Owen Sound, as second-in-command, wasn’t enough. He wanted his own station to manage. Finally, one day in 1958, he got the call that a station awaited him in Orangeville.

Reed, now in his early 90s, is sharp in his recollection of those days in Orangeville as the agent manager, responsible for loading and managing all shipments on the train. In 1969, Reed learned the express department was being phased out and moved to Preston, Ont. He was given the option to transfer, but  Orangeville had become his home. As the last train left the station, it was a bittersweet moment, but not the end of an era.

The next phase of his life saw him following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father as an employee of Canada Post. Reed held that position until 1988 at the age of 65 when he retired.

Today, Reed, still lives an independent life, even after the death of his wife last April. He enjoys time with family and friends, and is proud not only of his career accomplishments, but of his artistic abilities. Throughout the house, drawings and paintings adorn the house. On the wall in his bedroom hangs drawing Reed created of the original train station, which can now be found on Armstrong Street.