Bamford, William Blackley

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Bamford, William Blackley

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William Blackley Bamford (10 Sept. 1863-29 Aug. 1946) was born in Belleville, Ontario, to William Bamford (b. 3 June 1826) and Lydia Ann Blackley (b. 18 Mar. 1836-d. 1910). Bamford had two brothers that lived to adulthood, Charles Harry Sydney Bamford and Thomas Henry Lord Bamford. A 1932 newspaper article about Bamford’s career states that while working as a teamster for at a flour mill in Caledonia, Ontario, Bamford studied telegraphing at night, which led to him obtaining a position as a night telegraph operator at Burlington on the Northern and Northwestern Railway. An earlier article published in 1929 states that he obtained his first railway position in 1880 with the Credit Valley Railway as a telegraph operator. When the Canadian Pacific Railway took over the Credit Valley Railway in 1883, Bamford continued with the organization. He was subsequently a relief operator at the Lampton Mills, Brampton, Ontario, and then an operator at Ingersoll, Ontario. Around 1886, Bamford was appointed as a CPR agent in Corbetton, Ontario, where he opened a station for the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway at a time when the area was just being settled. Two years later, he was appointed as an agent in Elora, Ontario. In 1889, Bamford married Henrietta Odell in in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The couple had at least one son, William Blackley Stanley Bamford, and one daughter, Florence Odell Bamford (d. 7 July 1918).

In 1892, Bamford became a station agent at Peterborough, Ontario, where he remained for ten years. Bamford was instrumental in the establishment of a Quaker Oats plant in the area, as well as promoting the Trent Canal Locks. In 1902, Bamford became a traveling freight agent out of Toronto. While in this position, Bamford recommended the creation of train cars with end doors for machinery shipments, the implementation of staggered car doors for shipping automobiles, and later the design of a special car for automobiles, as well as other innovations. Four years later, Bamford was appointment as a district freight agent at London, Ontario. Bamford was named division freight agent at St. John, New Brunswick, in 1910. Six years later, he was made district freight agent at Toronto, and in 1920 was transferred to the Kootenay and Boundary Division at Nelson, British Columbia. Bamford’s retirement from the CPR became effective 31 December 1928 after 48 years as a railroader.

Bamford was extremely active in community activities. While in Peterborough, he was a warden for All Saints Church, a representative of the church on the board of the Nicholls Hospital, and a member of the town charity board and the school board for five years. In Toronto, Bamford was a warden of Christ Church Deer Park. While in Nelson, Bamford served as an Alderman on the City Council, was a member of the rotary club for more than 20 years, and was an honourary president of the Associated Canadian Travelers. In addition, Bamford was heavily involved in the Nelson Board of Trade, acting as vice-president before being elected president in 1935. Bamford served as president until 1938 and was then made honourary president, a position created especially in tribute to him. He was also a member of Associated Boards of Trade of eastern British Columbia and was an associate member of the Vancouver Board of Trade. Bamford was also at various times a member of the Union Club of St. John, the Empire Club of Canada, the National Geographic Society, the United Empire Loyalists’ Association, and the Nelson Club. He was also on the board of directors for the Kootenay Lake General Hospital Society. Bamford was a Freemason and retired from the Sovereign Great Priory of Canada with the rank of Knight Templar. Bamford was an avid diarist and kept line-a-day diaries for at least 36 years. Bamford died at Kootenay Lake General Hospital in Nelson at the age of 82 and is buried in the Masonic section of Nelson Memorial Park.


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