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Inside the Hunter Harrison era at CP Railway

(Source: Globe and Mail, April 25, 2014)

TORONTO -- Driving through the rusty underbelly of southeast Calgary, past the scrapyards, used car lots and grain mills, you come upon a windswept field of train tracks and semi-abandoned buildings—a century-old industrial site gone to seed. Along the edge of the property, rising from the dirty snow of a long, hard winter, sits a low-slung white-and-grey building with “Canadian Pacific” emblazoned across it in bright red.

If it looks like a factory, that’s what it was—a railcar shop. But now it’s been stripped to its steel skeleton, and retrofitted with a second storey of executive offices, fields of cubicles, a NASA-style operations centre and hallways full of oil paintings of severe men with names like William Van Horne and Donald Smith.

In this remote brownfield of tracks and ties, a new head office of the company that built post-Confederation Canada has taken shape. Standing guard, near the entrance to the rail yard, is a bronze statue of 19th-century tycoon Lord Mount Stephen, but the building itself is a monument to the new lord of the line—a modern-day rail wizard named Hunter Harrison. As CP’s hedge-fund-anointed saviour, he has moved more than 1,000 people—some very reluctantly—to the Ogden Yard, where he is asking them to build a new CP amid the wreckage of a company that had lost its way.

Full story: Globe and Mail

Friday, April 25, 2014

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