Historic Anniversary for the Railway Association of Canada
Ottawa - The Railway Association of Canada will mark the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Canadian Railway Association for National Defence today, October 23. The organization was created to expedite the flow of freight cars back from the U.S. to help the Canadian war effort during the first world war. The name was changed to the Canadian Railway War Board. Because the concept worked so well, the War Board was dissolved and the Railway Association of Canada was established on December 1, 1919.
Representatives from Canada’s railways first met in Montreal to create a volunteer, national board to coordinate related industrial activities regarding the war on October 23, 1917. Its purpose was to “render the most efficient possible service to the national cause.” The timeline of the Association’s activities was to be for the duration of the war, and gave general authority to formulate a policy of operation for all or any of the railways.
“The creation of the association marked a significant point in the history of the railway industry in Canada,” said Cliff Mackay, president and CEO of the modern RAC. “Their activities throughout the war years did not go unnoticed, and our continued work as a representative body reflects the importance of a national railway association. The RAC is proud to be a part of this storied history.”
In addition to coordinating efforts to return railcars that had been shipped to the United States, the Association also took responsibility for managing labour issues between the railways and their employees. Under the abnormal conditions of the war, it was deemed expedient that the Association manage these issues. After the war, the Association maintained this role for a number of years.
“It is perhaps not necessary that I should outline … the very wonderful work accomplished by the Canadian Railway War Board during the period of the war,” said E.W. Beatty , then President of Canadian Pacific Railway at the dissolution of the Board. “I do not believe that there is one single activity in Canada, throughout the war, that was more appreciated by the Government and by the people of Canada than the activities of the transportation companies and the Canadian Railway War Board.”
The RAC will recognize its historic anniversary through different events and initiatives during the year approaching December 1, 2009, said Mr. Mackay. “Suggestions are welcome.”
Director, Public Affairs
Railway Association of Canada