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The Section Men - Seven Persons

Seven Persons - Once Hundred Sixty Acres and a Dream

Chapter 31

The section men served the railway and the community from before the laying of the first tracks and there are some who are still active in similar work today. Those first railway workers travelled by handcar, pumping their way up and down the tracks, sometimes every day of the week, regardless of the weather. They had to keep the roadbed, the heavy, creosoted wooden ties and the steel rails in repair so that the trains could roll along.

Many of these employees were new immigrants from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Italy and other countries. They came, not knowing the language, but getting along on this type of work, and they required jobs to support themselves in this new land. Wages were not large by some standards but it was cash. Eric Holmberg said, "I received 30 cents an hour." They were supplied a house in Seven Persons if they hadn't a home of their own. Throughout the years their working conditions have improved, but being a section man is still a position of hard work.

Eric Holmberg relates, "When I first began working on the section it was summertime and I suffered much from the heat. I hadn't been here from Sweden for very long. The sun shining on those polished steel rails reflected back on my fair skin until I felt absolutely cooked. The skin of my face and hands became so burned it peeled. It took some time for me to get used to Canadian weather."

Section foremen and workmen whose names are recalled are: John Meyer(1897-1904), Sam Carlson (1904-1908), P. Peterson, J. Jubb, Gust Carlson, Edwin Carlson(1915-1920), Henry Meyer, George Meyer, Charlie Tonberg, Billy Strand, Selmer Wenner, Eric Holmberg, Olander Nesting, Berger Hoseth, Martin Nerland, S. Toth, John Kraft, Alfred Adair, Bill York and Dan Gazzie.

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Mary Tollestrup