December 2nd, 2022 Update: Fixed issue, book should download easily now.
It was in 1998 when I went into a used book store in Kitchener and saw a box of books all containing one title, "I Remember" by Herbert Stitt. The book was a small format 4"x7" 102 pages. The book was originally published in 1983. There were about 25 copies in the box. I offered the store owner $25.00 for all of them and he accepted.
I came home and read the book. It was a fascinating look at Herbert's 47 year career from 1915-1962 with the Canadian Pacific Railway. From a Canadian railway history prospective it was a treasure to own.
In 2000, I put out a local railway calendar of Preston, Galt, Hespeler Railway Stations. I also offered the Herbert Stitt book for sale at $5.00. I sold them all but 2 copies which I kept for myself.
About 10 years ago I was going through my archives and found the copies of the book. I decided at that time to try and find someone connected with the original publishing of the book. I wanted to get permission to make a pdf copy of it and offer it as a free download to the public. I was successful in getting permission to reproduce it as a free download.
Now in 2022 on this website, I have put the book as a free download on the Freebee Page. I have also added below the Toronto Star article from 1989 interviewing Herbert. Enjoy the article below and the free download.
|Herbert Stitt - credit Toronto Star photographer Dick Loek|
Putting it on paper brought back fond memories, says the self-taught author.
Book revives 47 with CPR
Herb Stitt sits back in his Willowdale apartment with a great sense of accomplishment as he begins the new year.
And he has every reason to do so for at 91 years old he is enjoying the second printing of his book “I Remember”, the Story of his 47 years working for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
This grand old pioneer was 86 when he wrote the first edition of the Book, all in his own handwriting. He had only three years of formal education. Stitt had the book published at his own expense.
: “I enjoyed writing the book,” he says “It brought back a lot of memories. Although I didn't have much formal schooling, I’m self- taught. I've read good books all my life, Charles Dickens was one of my favourite authors.”
He was encouraged to write the book by a friend, Elizabeth Wilmot, author of Meet Me at the Station and Faces And Places Along The Railway.
The steam era comes alive through Stitt’s memories, as he trades his life from childhood experiences in Ireland and Toronto to his lengthy time with the CPR.
“My father was a music teacher,” Stitt writes. “I was one of 12 children, so it kept my father busy trying to feed and clothe such a large brood. I have often wondered how my mother managed. We very often went hungry in those days, but somehow she was able to keep us alive.”
In 1907, Stitt came to Toronto with his family to Join his father, who had immigrated the year before. In 1915, he was offered a job wiping engines at the CPR round-house on John St, and Jumped at the chance.
“The pay for wiping engines was 16 cents an hour for a 10-hour day. We had a kindly old Scotsman as our boss who kept us shining those beautiful passenger trains. The company was very particular about the appearance of the engines that pulled their passenger trains. At that time, there were a large number of trains running out of the old Union Station. There were very few automobiles and no planes. The trains were the only means of travel.”
Eventually, Stitt worked his way to be an engineer for the CPR. He retired in 1962. “
His autobiography tells of a period in Canadian history when people struggled to survive. It takes you on a rail journey from Union Station in Toronto, sometimes on freight trains, sometimes on the glorious Canadian, a luxury passenger coach. He tells you about trains and trainmen, of their tragedies and triumphs.
reference -12/16/1988 Toronto Star - Stasia Evasuk - JOURNEY THROUGH TIME: Herbert Stitt, 91, traces 47-year railway career In his book I Remember.