Letter from Roderic O'Connor (c/o D. W. Burpee, 45 Murray Street West, Hamilton, Ontario) to Professor P. F. Purcell (Gayfield, Killney), discussing life in Canada; etc.

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Professor P.F. Purcell. M.A. Gayfield Killiney Co. Dublin Ireland

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envelope, verso

{stamped in ink:} MACKENZIE, MANN & CO., Limited TORONTO

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letter, p. 1

C/o D.W. Burpee C.N.O.RS 45. Murray Str. West. Hamilton. Ontario

My dear Professor,

I have your op of 17.Dec.r lcsh? & was glad to hear from you. Let me congratulate you on your son, whom I hope I may meet some day. I thoroughly appreciate your reference to Miss Mansford?, now Mrs Murray. That is now, as far as I am concerned, a matter of history.

Well, I was delighted to hear the School is doing well & with it the very best success. In answer to your question, I like the open air life. It is magnificent. I have been out every day. Winter. Summer. since last March 1911. Now? west at 101° & also 52 degrees of frost. when I have had my lunch frozen too stiff to eat. an icicle hanging from my eyelashes.

I wrote of the Canadian North Railway last June for a better job than I had with the C.P.R. and got it.

With C.P.R I started as Rodman & was promoted to Draftsman then Transitman? .... 2 months. The C.N.R.S. gave me an appt. as "Resident? Engineer" on construction with an office and staff of 3. Two chainmen? & Rodman. I was sent to Montréal where I had to str pick up, and stake out a line that was surveyed 7 years previously. I staked out 22 miles of the line. This was in Dec.r with 4' snow on the ground. I only found 5 of the original hubs. I was then given a "Residency"? of 8 miles for construction over which I had full charge. The Event closed down & I was sent back to Toronto to retrace the line from Toronto to Hamilton. This is now just finished & I expect to have an 8 mile section for Construction

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letter, p. 2

The Company is building from Toronto thro' Hamilton into Niagara Falls (Ont.)|Niagra Falls & then I think to Chicago. There is some heavy Engineering work on this 40 miles. 3 Bridges average 600' span across Gullys varying in depth from 69' to 110'. I have done all the Contouring etc in connection with these, my notes are plotted in head office. The work is hard, often have 12 miles walk in a day & office work when I get back. The method of running in Cu... is very simple & interesting & construction is also. I think I have been lucky. I have found myself in a few tight corners but always come out all right. All the R.. have standardized. Single track, Road bed is 15' wide & fills are 22' in cuts. All flange rails use? and suspended joints, ........, Ties. what we call "sleepess"? 2 ½ apart centres are not creas.... Ballasting of course varies with locality but generally seen to be broken stone.

The C.N.R is doing the construction that either C.P. or F.T.P.? as they are not yet thro' to Vancouver. Have about 1400 li built.

The Asst Chief Eng.r went to England last July for holiday & brought back 15 men. Engineers, Chainmen & Rodmen.

There is plenty of work for a B.E. N.U.I. I think the National might get into Commonwealth with the "Chief Engineer of Construction" C.N.Ry. Toronto. {original text: "?"} I suggested it to O'Farrell last year because I happened to know that C.N.R likes to have "Old Country" man. They're in search of chainmen.

One of my men was originally a waiter. I picked him up in Montréal and he is here with me. The 2.d was a bank clerk, the

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letter, p. 3

3.d nothing. I cannot rely on one of them. I have a letter from Paddy Jeffrey which I am at last about to answer. There is one thing I may say to hime, and anyone else who think of coming here.

It would be very foolish to take any but a subordinate job at first: - No fellow ought take a job which involves handling men until he has observed the Conditions here. In Ireland it seems necessary to kick men around to get them to work. Here it is very different. Your work is as good as you are & is to be treated socially as an equal. By subordinate job I mean Chainman or Roadman. 35 - 45 per month & all expenses. Transitman may well get about 60. Res.... 100 - 150. All expenses are paid all even by the Company.

You mention Burke in your letter. I don't remember him, but he calls on me on .. at Montréal & misses me. He is with C.P.R. I think Roadman somewhere within 50 miles of Montréal

A "Royal" man Campbell of Galway who from the same general areas as I also came to see me, he is "Leveller" with C.P.R. at $60 per.

By the way I did write Flanagan & he never replied. ..... ..... .........! He might be married now for all I know. Anyhow I will write him again. I will enclose you a photo if I get it in time. It is later when I just finish. Contours of one of these Gullys I mentioned. The level was not thrown down on the ground just as it looks, but it was the last set up, just gave me 13' of the rod.

I feel a wandering spirit coming over me. I hope to go to S. Africa or Australia sometime when I have seen West Canada. If I don't throw up Engineering for a "shoe shine parlour or ice cream restaurant. There is loads of money in these. Give? my regards to ...., Professor Seymour & any who may remember me. I hope to see the School within 12 months

Your friend

Roderic O'Connor

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