Hamilton's Maurice Powell continues to roll after 50 years

News Aug 23, 2019 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

When Maurice Powell started work at the Hamilton Street Railway 50 years ago, he didn’t know how to drive a bus.

He was on vacation from Jamaica in Hamilton when he found out about a possible position at HSR and submitted an application.

He returned to his native Jamaica and continued working at Singer Sewing and for two weeks he didn’t hear from HSR. Then he received a call from his sister who told him HSR wanted to talk to him.

Two weeks passed and he returned to Canada and had his interview with HSR.

“The company I was employed (by) I was doing a lot of money transactions for them,” he said.

“So that’s why, I think, (HSR) gave me a job here.”

At that time, Hamilton’s buses had no air conditioning, no power steering and he had to make change at the fare box – 30 cents for an adult, while a children’s fare was 10 cents. That didn’t hinder Powell at all as he adapted to his new position.

 “I learned pretty fast,” said Powell. “You had to.”

Quiet and composed, Powell, who his family, including sister, children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, call “Morris,” sat back with his beaming relatives as Hamilton officials, his colleagues, HSR retirees, and friends applauded his unique accomplishment of working at HSR for 50 years at the Hamilton Transit Centre on Upper James Street.

Amalgamated Transit Union officials said it is the first time they can remember that a transit employee has remained on the job for half a century with one employer.

Hamilton officials say the only other city employee who worked for 50 years was employed in the water and wastewater division.

But there is a reason why Powell has survived the many technological changes, rising traffic, demanding customers and other challenges related to driving a bus.

“He has such a great rapport with all his passengers,” said Eric Tuck, president of ATU local 107. 

“He truly delivers the highest level of service to these passengers and it shows in the respect he gets and the greetings he gets every morning.”

Powell, who had finished his shift early in the day before taking part in the celebration, has for the last 20 years driven the 35 route along Upper James and Mohawk College.

“I enjoy it,” said Powell, 77, who has no intention of retiring, yet, even though he has to get up at 4:30 each morning. “Most people come on and say, ‘Hi boss.’ I have a lot of stories. I just can’t think of them now. It has been pretty good.”

Powell, who lives on the west Mountain, became adapt at figuring out problems and solving issues while driving a bus. For instance, he started out driving what was then an electric trolley. Every so often the pole that connected the vehicle to the overhead electric grid would get knocked off by a truck.

“It would be up in the air and I would have to put it back on the line,” he said. “In those days you figured it out.”

He also pointed out contrary to the buses now with its cinemascope sized mirrors that are prominently displayed on the side of a bus, decades ago buses only had “smaller mirrors” to help you navigate around the city.

“You got used to it,” he said.

Over the course of a week or so Powell has been receiving the accolades of a grateful community. He has been honoured by councillors and staff with a certificate; by senior transit officials, and by his union, who bestowed upon him the title “master transit operator.”

“We are proud to celebrate with you and so pleased your family is here to celebrate with you,” said director of transit Debbie Dalle Vedove, during the outdoor barbecue and ceremony at the Mountain Transit Centre Aug. 19.

The union is also sending Powell and a guest to Las Vegas to participate in the North American union’s conference and to be recognized for his accomplishment.

As well, Powell received the thanks and a slick black jacket from Hamilton’s pre-eminent band The Arkells. When the group wanted to use a charter bus for a music video in 2018 HSR officials tapped Powell to be the driver. Max Kernan, the lead singer of the group, who remembered Powell, called him in a video message “The people’s champ.”

In addition, Trapeze Group North America, a business partner with HSR, honoured Powell by creating a $2,500 bursary in Powell’s name.

Each year $500 will be awarded to a student attending Mohawk College’s Civil Engineering Technology – Transportation program.

While the understated Powell only said thanks when asked to say a few works during the ceremonies, his daughter, Judith, praised the city and the HSR for honouring her father.

“He’s enjoyed his work immensely,” she said during a celebration at the Aug. 14 council meeting.

“As you can see, he’s been here for 50 years. I think he wants to stay another 50 years.”

When asked how he felt about all the attention paid to his accomplishments, Powell was short and sweet: “I like it. It’s nice.”

 

 

 

Fifty years later, Hamilton's Maurice Powell just keeps rolling along

When he started, he didn't know how to drive a bus

News Aug 23, 2019 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

When Maurice Powell started work at the Hamilton Street Railway 50 years ago, he didn’t know how to drive a bus.

He was on vacation from Jamaica in Hamilton when he found out about a possible position at HSR and submitted an application.

He returned to his native Jamaica and continued working at Singer Sewing and for two weeks he didn’t hear from HSR. Then he received a call from his sister who told him HSR wanted to talk to him.

Two weeks passed and he returned to Canada and had his interview with HSR.

"I learned pretty fast. You had to." - Maurice Powell

“The company I was employed (by) I was doing a lot of money transactions for them,” he said.

“So that’s why, I think, (HSR) gave me a job here.”

At that time, Hamilton’s buses had no air conditioning, no power steering and he had to make change at the fare box – 30 cents for an adult, while a children’s fare was 10 cents. That didn’t hinder Powell at all as he adapted to his new position.

 “I learned pretty fast,” said Powell. “You had to.”

Quiet and composed, Powell, who his family, including sister, children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, call “Morris,” sat back with his beaming relatives as Hamilton officials, his colleagues, HSR retirees, and friends applauded his unique accomplishment of working at HSR for 50 years at the Hamilton Transit Centre on Upper James Street.

Amalgamated Transit Union officials said it is the first time they can remember that a transit employee has remained on the job for half a century with one employer.

Hamilton officials say the only other city employee who worked for 50 years was employed in the water and wastewater division.

But there is a reason why Powell has survived the many technological changes, rising traffic, demanding customers and other challenges related to driving a bus.

“He has such a great rapport with all his passengers,” said Eric Tuck, president of ATU local 107. 

“He truly delivers the highest level of service to these passengers and it shows in the respect he gets and the greetings he gets every morning.”

Powell, who had finished his shift early in the day before taking part in the celebration, has for the last 20 years driven the 35 route along Upper James and Mohawk College.

“I enjoy it,” said Powell, 77, who has no intention of retiring, yet, even though he has to get up at 4:30 each morning. “Most people come on and say, ‘Hi boss.’ I have a lot of stories. I just can’t think of them now. It has been pretty good.”

Powell, who lives on the west Mountain, became adapt at figuring out problems and solving issues while driving a bus. For instance, he started out driving what was then an electric trolley. Every so often the pole that connected the vehicle to the overhead electric grid would get knocked off by a truck.

“It would be up in the air and I would have to put it back on the line,” he said. “In those days you figured it out.”

He also pointed out contrary to the buses now with its cinemascope sized mirrors that are prominently displayed on the side of a bus, decades ago buses only had “smaller mirrors” to help you navigate around the city.

“You got used to it,” he said.

Over the course of a week or so Powell has been receiving the accolades of a grateful community. He has been honoured by councillors and staff with a certificate; by senior transit officials, and by his union, who bestowed upon him the title “master transit operator.”

“We are proud to celebrate with you and so pleased your family is here to celebrate with you,” said director of transit Debbie Dalle Vedove, during the outdoor barbecue and ceremony at the Mountain Transit Centre Aug. 19.

The union is also sending Powell and a guest to Las Vegas to participate in the North American union’s conference and to be recognized for his accomplishment.

As well, Powell received the thanks and a slick black jacket from Hamilton’s pre-eminent band The Arkells. When the group wanted to use a charter bus for a music video in 2018 HSR officials tapped Powell to be the driver. Max Kernan, the lead singer of the group, who remembered Powell, called him in a video message “The people’s champ.”

In addition, Trapeze Group North America, a business partner with HSR, honoured Powell by creating a $2,500 bursary in Powell’s name.

Each year $500 will be awarded to a student attending Mohawk College’s Civil Engineering Technology – Transportation program.

While the understated Powell only said thanks when asked to say a few works during the ceremonies, his daughter, Judith, praised the city and the HSR for honouring her father.

“He’s enjoyed his work immensely,” she said during a celebration at the Aug. 14 council meeting.

“As you can see, he’s been here for 50 years. I think he wants to stay another 50 years.”

When asked how he felt about all the attention paid to his accomplishments, Powell was short and sweet: “I like it. It’s nice.”

 

 

 

Fifty years later, Hamilton's Maurice Powell just keeps rolling along

When he started, he didn't know how to drive a bus

News Aug 23, 2019 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

When Maurice Powell started work at the Hamilton Street Railway 50 years ago, he didn’t know how to drive a bus.

He was on vacation from Jamaica in Hamilton when he found out about a possible position at HSR and submitted an application.

He returned to his native Jamaica and continued working at Singer Sewing and for two weeks he didn’t hear from HSR. Then he received a call from his sister who told him HSR wanted to talk to him.

Two weeks passed and he returned to Canada and had his interview with HSR.

"I learned pretty fast. You had to." - Maurice Powell

“The company I was employed (by) I was doing a lot of money transactions for them,” he said.

“So that’s why, I think, (HSR) gave me a job here.”

At that time, Hamilton’s buses had no air conditioning, no power steering and he had to make change at the fare box – 30 cents for an adult, while a children’s fare was 10 cents. That didn’t hinder Powell at all as he adapted to his new position.

 “I learned pretty fast,” said Powell. “You had to.”

Quiet and composed, Powell, who his family, including sister, children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, call “Morris,” sat back with his beaming relatives as Hamilton officials, his colleagues, HSR retirees, and friends applauded his unique accomplishment of working at HSR for 50 years at the Hamilton Transit Centre on Upper James Street.

Amalgamated Transit Union officials said it is the first time they can remember that a transit employee has remained on the job for half a century with one employer.

Hamilton officials say the only other city employee who worked for 50 years was employed in the water and wastewater division.

But there is a reason why Powell has survived the many technological changes, rising traffic, demanding customers and other challenges related to driving a bus.

“He has such a great rapport with all his passengers,” said Eric Tuck, president of ATU local 107. 

“He truly delivers the highest level of service to these passengers and it shows in the respect he gets and the greetings he gets every morning.”

Powell, who had finished his shift early in the day before taking part in the celebration, has for the last 20 years driven the 35 route along Upper James and Mohawk College.

“I enjoy it,” said Powell, 77, who has no intention of retiring, yet, even though he has to get up at 4:30 each morning. “Most people come on and say, ‘Hi boss.’ I have a lot of stories. I just can’t think of them now. It has been pretty good.”

Powell, who lives on the west Mountain, became adapt at figuring out problems and solving issues while driving a bus. For instance, he started out driving what was then an electric trolley. Every so often the pole that connected the vehicle to the overhead electric grid would get knocked off by a truck.

“It would be up in the air and I would have to put it back on the line,” he said. “In those days you figured it out.”

He also pointed out contrary to the buses now with its cinemascope sized mirrors that are prominently displayed on the side of a bus, decades ago buses only had “smaller mirrors” to help you navigate around the city.

“You got used to it,” he said.

Over the course of a week or so Powell has been receiving the accolades of a grateful community. He has been honoured by councillors and staff with a certificate; by senior transit officials, and by his union, who bestowed upon him the title “master transit operator.”

“We are proud to celebrate with you and so pleased your family is here to celebrate with you,” said director of transit Debbie Dalle Vedove, during the outdoor barbecue and ceremony at the Mountain Transit Centre Aug. 19.

The union is also sending Powell and a guest to Las Vegas to participate in the North American union’s conference and to be recognized for his accomplishment.

As well, Powell received the thanks and a slick black jacket from Hamilton’s pre-eminent band The Arkells. When the group wanted to use a charter bus for a music video in 2018 HSR officials tapped Powell to be the driver. Max Kernan, the lead singer of the group, who remembered Powell, called him in a video message “The people’s champ.”

In addition, Trapeze Group North America, a business partner with HSR, honoured Powell by creating a $2,500 bursary in Powell’s name.

Each year $500 will be awarded to a student attending Mohawk College’s Civil Engineering Technology – Transportation program.

While the understated Powell only said thanks when asked to say a few works during the ceremonies, his daughter, Judith, praised the city and the HSR for honouring her father.

“He’s enjoyed his work immensely,” she said during a celebration at the Aug. 14 council meeting.

“As you can see, he’s been here for 50 years. I think he wants to stay another 50 years.”

When asked how he felt about all the attention paid to his accomplishments, Powell was short and sweet: “I like it. It’s nice.”