Safety First and Other Stories

From the Article

In the early part of the last century, the CPR had a problem with conductor Willie-Jim McDonald. He was he only conductor on the national system who wore whiskers.

He had been raised from trainman to conductor at Revelstoke, BC, and the company assumed he would shave like everybody else upon taking his due authority. McDonald thought otherwise. So they fired him.

His union took up McDonald’s cause with a more progressive attitude. The CPR argued that he was an exception; that he presented a poor image for a modern company; that whiskers were unsanitary, and they were a safety hazard. The union declared his beard to be clean, trim, and non-hazardous.

The union won, and the railway hired McDonald back with pay for time lost. McDonald kept his beard until his retirement day, possibly the first employee to do so (see photo below).

All Publications