Last year, Canada Pacific Railway (CP) painted up five locomotives in special schemes to honour the military’s different branches.
This year, CP is selling a book, Proud Colours by Adam Meeks, about Canadian Pacific’s Military Tribute Locomotives as a fundraiser for the Homes For Heroes Foundation to support veterans in need.
Author of Proud Colours and Manager Heritage Services & Operations, CP, Adam Meeks, says the book talks about CPs history with the military, which goes back almost to the company’s inception.
“CPs had quite a close relationship with the armed forces really from the get-go. So this was a perfect opportunity for us to use the development and revealing of these locomotives as a bit of a vehicle to tell that story and to be able to help people understand what the rail’s relationship with the military has been for well over a hundred years,” said Meeks.
The book talks about creating the special locomotive paint schemes, what the rationale was behind them, what CPs reasoning was for doing them, and the process that they went through to arrive at the final designs. It then gets into a little bit of the construction and the unveiling process that CP went through last year for these locomotives, and to show them off to everybody.
Meeks has been working with CP for 17 years. He’s always been passionate about the railway and its history, and the role the company has played with supporting the armed forces, as a nation builder with Canada and the services brought to the United States.
“A lot of these aspects of the company’s history with the military are very compelling, and its stories, for the most part, really haven’t been told. So I thought it was important for people to know that,” he informed.
Meeks says the locomotives featured in his book were designed in order to pay tribute to the members of the armed forces, those who have served past, present, and future. He says to tie that all in, “You need to make it relevant to Canadians because it’s one thing to just put a fancy paint scheme on a locomotive and say that you’re supporting the troops, but we want this to help to tell the story of how CP has done that over the years.”
CP will donate all of the profits from the book’s sale to the Homes For Heroes Foundation. Meeks commented that this is an excellent way for them to raise money for veterans.
Rory Thompson, director of learning and development on military relations, CP says one thing he loves about this fundraiser is it plays into CPs value in the military in their long history and in present time.
“This is just a great tribute to the history that we’ve made, and also having those specific locomotives out there just makes us remember on a daily basis the sacrifice veterans made and the value that they bring to the company,” Thompson expressed.
The book is available on the CP website. The books can be shipped to Canada and the United States. The fundraiser will be ongoing until they run out of books, and at that point, there is a possibility of potentially doing a second printing.
The Homes For Heroes Foundation was developed in response to the growing number of military veterans who are facing crisis as they return to civilian life and find themselves on the path to homelessness.
The organization’s mission is to integrate all our homeless military veterans into the community through the provision of housing and support services across Canada. The villages for veterans consist of 15 to 25 individual “tiny homes” arranged in a park-like setting. All homes face inward to facilitate peer-to-peer support.
As a part of the wider military program, Thompson says CP has an event every year called spin for a veteran, which is a 24-hour spin like competition where all proceeds also go to Homes for Heroes Foundation.
Right now, they have raised $855,000 over three years.
“We are actually hosting the event next week, and we’re already up to about $300,000. Every $100,000 we raise builds a house for a homeless veteran. So really that money has been directly put towards the community that we ultimately support, and we’ve had a long history with,” Thompson proudly stated.
The first village was opened this time last year. Thompson mentioned that the charity is in talks with opening villages in Edmonton, Vancouver, Manitoba, and Ontario.
Being a veteran himself, Thompson says he knows many people join the army or join the military very young. He also noted they sacrifice a lot during their career, whether that’s time away from family or going overseas to conflict. As a result, when they choose to leave the military, there potentially isn’t an easy street for them.
The Veteran Hire Initiative builds into the bigger program at CP in attracting veterans to the company. By various social media and digital campaigns, veterans are encouraged to go to the CP website, apply for jobs, and then inform the CP’s recruitment team that they’ve applied through the veteran inbox.
Thompson says that then gives them a foot up when it comes to the application process, and then once they’re in the door, CP has various initiatives to make them feel at home.
“I think ultimately there’s not many companies, specifically in Canada who really recognize the sacrifice and the value that veterans bring. And so we’re just ultimately trying to make that transition from the military as seamless as an easiest possible or the veteran, and also put them in a job that they’re really going to get that satisfaction like they did when they were in the military; a sense of camaraderie and operational environment.”
He further explained, “CP is an operational company, just like the military. It can be stressful, high temp, or fast-paced fast-moving. So why would we not potentially go to a recruitment pool of people who’ve lived and breathed that throughout their time with the military? There’s a huge emphasis here on safety, so again, we’ll go to a recruitment pool of people who have lived in that dangerous concept environment, overseas or during exercises at home,” explained Thompson.
CP also draws on veterans because of the leadership skills military personnel obtain and develop over multiple years. Thompson mentioned some of the skills learned in the military trades are easily transferrable to railroad jobs.
“If you were in the mechanical department, managed tanks or armoured vehicles, a locomotive, or a railcar is no different,” he commented.