Blue Water Healthy Living


People Public Figures

Rare Bear: Thomas Alva Edison

By Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner

This excerpt has been shared from Rare Bear, Barry Kentner’s book,“Trains, Tracks, Trestles and Round House Tales”

THOMAS ALVA EDISON’s father, born in Marshalltown Nova Scotia moved to the Southwestern Ontario town of Shrewsbury, now known as Vienna…a few miles south of St. Thomas.  There, as a young man, he took part in the McKenzie Rebellion of l837.  When it failed, he headed for the United States.  There he met Nancy Mathews Elliot of Chenango County, New York.  They married, and their 7th child, born In Milan, Ohio in 1847 was Thomas.  

He was a poor scholar, and when the family moved to Port Huron in l859, he became a “Train Boy.”  He sold candy and vegetables on trains that ran from Detroit to Port Huron. He was no more than fifteen and perhaps a bit younger when he saved a boy named Jimmie McKenzie from being hit by a runaway train.  Young Jimmie was the son of Rail Master J.U. McKenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan.  He was so grateful that he trained Thomas as a telegrapher.  Thomas was so good at this profession that the Grand Trunk offered him a job.

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The Grand Trunk Railway at that time was a railway system that operated In the Canadian Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and in the U.S. in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  It is operated from a headquarters in Montreal, with corporate headquarters in London, England.   The Grand Trunk, it’s subsidiaries, and the Canadian Government Railways were precursors of today’s Canadian National Railways.

Thomas’ first telegraphy job away from Port Huron was at Stratford Junction in Ontario,  on a direct track through Sarnia and the tunnel to Port Huron.  Unfortunately, he kept falling asleep at the Telegraph Key despite several unique inventions to keep him awake.  One night he was actually held accountable for a near collision.  He boarded a train for Port Huron and never looked back.

Edison’s major innovation was the establishment of an industrial research lab in 1876. It was built in Menlo Park, a part of Raritan Township (now named Edison Township in his honor) in Middlesex County, New Jersey, with the funds from the sale of Edison’s quadruplex telegraph. After his demonstration of the telegraph, Edison was not sure that his original plan to sell it for $4,000 to $5,000 was right, so he asked Western Union to make a bid. He was surprised to hear them offer $10,000 ($221,400 in today’s dollars.), which he gratefully accepted. (Wikipedia)

To read more from Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner book, “Trains, Tracks, Trestles and Round House Tales” contact Barry at barrykentner@outlook.com

Barry was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1935 and schooled to Grade 10, but continued educational pursuits until age 65 when he graduated from Open Word Bible College. He started working for Spitzer and Mills advertising in 1952, then moved to the Broadcast arena where for 62 years he was News Director and Talk Show Host at several Canadian Radio Stations. He was one of 5 consultants who managed to lobby for Christian Radio in Canada, and in the last five years before retirement, he was News Director of Canadian Altar.Net News, a network of 25 Christian Radio Stations across Canada from Charlottetown PEI to Campbell River BC.
Barry Kentner is a semi-retired pastor.

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