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From the late 19th century up until the 1960s, travelling by sleeping car train was the height of luxury. Porters tended to a passenger’s every need. They were almost exclusively Black men who worked long hours for low pay and often faced racial discrimination. But these men fought for better treatment and after years of organizing, signed a collective agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway in 1945. The battle to unionize both in Canada and the U.S. paved the way for the Civil Rights movement and the creation of a Black middle class.
David MacAndrew Clarke worked as a porter for CPR in the late 1960s. He tells us what it was like working on the train and how his father and the generation of older porters before him dealt with discrimination and fought to make the job better. Plus, Marsha Greene and Arnold Pinnock of the creative team from the new CBC show, The Porter talk about unearthing this sometimes forgotten history and what it was like turning it into a drama for a wider audience.