The Road Taken
Earl Brisco went to work on the road against his dad’s wishes. His father predicted that he wouldn’t like the job and would only last for three months, but Earl stayed for forty-one years and one month. What could have prompted men like Brisco, Eddie Bailey, John Clyke, Joe Sealy and many others to develop such a sense of pride in their work?
The tradition of the Black Pullman porter was established in the United States in 1867 by the Pullman Palace Car Company. Later when the company expanded its operations into Canada, the tradition of exclusively hiring Black men as porters was continued and eventually spread to other railway companies.
The Black sleeping-car porters became the caretakers of philosophers and diplomats, doctors and ministers.
This 1996 documentary takes a nostalgic ride through history to present the experiences of these sleeping-car porters who worked on Canada’s railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s. There was a strong sense of pride among these men and they were well-respected by their communities.
Listen as these men share their stories of life lessons amidst harsh working conditions that eventually opened doors of opportunity for hundreds of other young Black men.