Walker, Roy Fairbairn, 1887-1974 : Roy Fairbairn Walker was born on March 15, 1887 in Goderich, Ontario. He entered the service of the Grand Trunk Railway Company as a Mechanical Apprentice in the York Roundhouse in September 1902. In the fall and winter of 1906-07, 1907-08 and 1908-09, he attended the University of Toronto, one term in Arts and the other two in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. In the summer seasons between college terms, he worked in the Back Shop as an Improver for the Grand Trunk Railway in Ottawa, Ontario; as an Improver in the Erecting Shop for Grand Trunk Railway in Stratford, Ontario; and as a Rodman and Chainman for the Transcontinental Railway Construction Survey, north of Lake Nipigon at the Ombabika River Crossing. In the fall and winter of 1909-10, Walker worked as a Mechanic at the Grand Trunk Railway Roundhouse in Mimico, Ontario and as a Fireman for the same company in Belleville, Ontario.
From March 1910 to December 1915, he was a Draughtsman for the Canadian Locomotive Company, Limited in Kingston, Ontario.
Between December 27 1915 and April 1, 1919, Walker was enlisted in the Canadian Army, and was part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force that served in France. His regimental number was 304629. Of special interest is the fact that he was a Canadian Engineer who served in the First Tramway Company and the Canadian Light Rail Operating Company. The light railway companies came into existence when it became clear that the maintenance of roads was becoming a severe problem, in terms of the manpower needed and enormous quantities of road stone clogging up the supply routes. (For further information about Walker's service, please see the series description. To view Roy Fairbairn Walker's attestation papers or to order his file, please see: http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/first-world-war-1914-1918-cef/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=293468)
After the end of the First World War and his return to Canada, Walker became employed as a Design Draughtsman at the Montreal Locomotive Works in June 1919, a job he held until 1928. He was on loan to the Canadian Locomotive Company, designing CNR locomotives in 1927-1928. In addition R.F. Walker worked for the New Welland Ship Canal, and was responsible for preparing and checking all shop drawings relating to the manufacture of the major quantity of steel castings and forged details used in lock gate of the Canal. From February to September 1928, Walker was employed by the Domnion Bridge Company, and worked as a Draughtsman in the Crane Department.
In October 1928, Walker became a Design Draughtsman at the Canadian National Railways Headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. For sixteen years, he was responsible for the design and construction of S-4-a-b., U-1-f, U-2g.h, U-4-a.b., class steam locomotives, and the Q-3-a diesel electric switcher 7750, and also supervised all U-2 6100 and U-3-b class locomotives. ONe of the U-1-f locomotives he was responsible for was the CNR locomotive 6060 - these locomotives were nicknamed "Bullet Nose Bettys" due to their distinctive cone-shape smokebox door cover. The U-1-f Mountain class locomotives were the last steam locomotives purchased by CNR before the company converted to diesel power. Of the 20 that were built, only three remain, with only one in operational condition.
From June 1944 until his retirement in March 1952, Walker was Mechanical Engineer for Canadian National Railways in Montreal.
During his retirement, Walker continued to take an interest in Canadain and world railway history, and collected many photos and other related railway information. He appeared briefly on the CBC television program "Railways East, Railways West".
Roy Fairburn Walker died on June 4, 1974.