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I am a Curator: Stuart Harvey

I was the man who always felt out of my time. I was kind of gruff, I liked things that were built to last, so when I walked into TTR [Toronto Terminals Railway] and started working on the Grand Old Lady, Union Station, it was like a living, breathing museum and all of a sudden, it’s in my blood, I’m a curator.

– Stuart Harvey, Train Movement Director, 2020

Black and white archival photograph of the interior of a large railway station. The photograph is taken from above and shows many ticket counters on the right hand side. There are several people walking around the station.

1949 view of the Great Hall of Union Station.

Toronto’s Union Station is the busiest passenger rail facility in Canada. Forty million travelers move through the station  every year. This number is expected to double in the next 20 years. Ensuring that every one of these people travels safely is an important job. Stuart Harvey also found the allure of working in a historic building compelling.

Professional Wrestling

Stuart did not grow up dreaming about working for the railways. Instead, he originally worked in construction. Then in the 1980s, he thought about becoming a professional wrestler. He needed a job to pay the bills which would give him time to train. He got a maintenance job for the railways, which was more related to professional wrestling than one might think. Not only were they both physical jobs, but they both also required Stuart to be outspoken.

Black and white archival photograph of the front of a large railway station. There are vintage cars driving on the street in front of the station and two women carrying shopping bags in the foreground.

Toronto’s Union Station in 1971.

Stuart’s professional wrestling career came to an end with the final physical examination. A previous injury meant he was not able to continue as a wrestler. Instead of going back to construction, Stuart was inspired to keep working in the railways because of Union Station. For him, “what boy doesn’t want to play with a train set, and, here, you get to work with the world’s largest train set.”

Unpredictable Days

As Stuart explains, there are no typical days at Union Station. With so many people and trains, many different things can happen:

One morning, … I was working the John Street Tower and [the] signal maintainer and … [I] got the call that there [was] an obstruction in between the tracks, and I have got to go out and move the obstruction. I get out there, and there is a broken knuckle in the middle of the track. I’m alone and I have to lift this knuckle and get it off the tracks. I get it off the tracks and the trains run … my boss calls me up to the office … (he was an old navy man, Tony, great guy), and he goes ‘Stuart the G7 is coming to Toronto and we need a liaison to go with the presidential security team. You were in the army.’ I was a reservist but okay. Next thing you know, I’m out there driving around the president of the United State’s security team for the G7 so they can set up, you know, they’re getting my input, where to set up and what to check.

– Stuart Harvey, Train Movement Director, 2020

A colour still image captured of a video recording. A man is looking off camera with his hands folded in his lap.

Stuart Harvey during his interview at the Toronto Railway Museum.

Unpredictable Days. Enjoy this audio clip with an English transcription.