The Bloodless Battle of Fort Whyte

Without Peer Among Railway Men

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

 

WILLIAM WHYTE

Whyte was born in Charleston, Scotland Dec 14, 1843, son of a coal merchant. He came to Canada to work on the Grand trunk Railroad. Over 20 years Whyte worked as brakeman, freight clerk, yardmaster, and stationmaster, rising to Assistant Superintendent. He then moved to the Credit Valley Railway, which became part of the CPR in 1883. Whyte came west in 1886 to build the CPR line as General Superintendent of the Western Div. He was seen as the only man who could do it.

In 1879 he married Jane Scott. They had 5 children. He became Vice president of the CPR till 1911.

 

THE BATTLE

Oct 22, 1888, 6 miles south west of the city. Three hundred Winnipeggers supported by provincial Police descended on a group of CPR employees led by Whyte. They were preventing a group of workers for a new provincial railway. They had put a locomotive right in their path. It went on for days and saw fist fights, threats to scald with water,

A truce was declared and February 1887, a Supreme Court decision held in favour of the new railway, ending the CPR monopoly. That is how Fort Whyte got its name. After Generalissimo Whyte.

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