John Barry Reid

March 4, 2021 4 Condolences Print Obituary

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our father, John Barry Reid, at the age of 87 years old (1933-2021). Predeceased by his second wife Lois Grigg. Survived by daughter Diane Reid (Jamie Simpson) and son Scott Reid, “adopted” daughter DJ Clarke (Merrilee), and “adopted” son Bear Lamont (Shauna), Diane’s kids Matt Perri, Nicholas Perri (Isabelle Kuzio), Prem Raj (Arya), Samasati Kiya (Tyler Carpenter), Diane’s stepson Chris Fry (Isabel), and Scott’s kids Alan Reid, Korey Reid (Jayde), and Jessica Huley (Andy), as well as great grandchildren Ayden Watt, Mya and Markus Huley, soon to be born twins (to Korey and Jayde), Mauri Fernandez and Victoria Fry.

Born and raised in Calgary, John developed a love of railroads and steam engines early in life. He worked summers on the railway from the age of 15. In 1952, he and lifelong best friend Ray Matthews quit school and officially began work for CP Rail, where John worked his way up the ranks to become an engineer. He moved to CN in 1953 but was soon laid off. As he could join the Armed Forces and retain seniority on the railroad, he decided to join the Air Force in 1954.

John attended officer training school in London ON then transferred to flight training school Moose Jaw Squadron 4. Moose Jaw was where he met his future bride (Mary)Joan Berry. He and Joan got married in the spring of 1955.

After discharge from the Air Force, John went back to CN in Calgary, where he worked a second job as a taxi driver. They moved to Kamloops but he was frequently laid off. Spring 56 John learned he could hold in Jasper, so he and Joan moved there.

They welcomed a daughter Diane in 1957, and a son Scott in 1962. They lived in Jasper until 1975, when they moved to Edmonton. John worked Calder yards for two years until he joined Edmonton Transit in 1977 as its first LRT Supervisor, where he was instrumental in helping set up the operations systems and assisting in the writing of the rule book for the new LRT. John continued working in various supervisory roles for LRT until 1993 when he retired.

John and Joan divorced in 1990, and he settled down into a partnership with Lois Grigg until her passing in 2016.

Throughout his life, John was a leader, doing a stint as the representative of his local Brotherhood of Locomotive engineers, and a couple terms on the Jasper School Board. He was part of the group that spearheaded a successful campaign against the federal government to allow 99-year Crown leases on land for homeowners in Jasper National Park. He started the Jasper Highland Pipe Band at the age of 30, and played in several Edmonton pipe bands. In 2002 as Pipe Major of Big Rock Grade 4 band he led the band to a seventh place finish in the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow at the age of 69, piping alongside his daughter Diane with grandson Korey playing bass drum, and son Scott playing with the Gr 3 band.

In addition to piping, John had drum major skills and won a number of drum major competitions. He led many massed bands at Highland games as Drum Major, and was renowned for his booming voice and for making sure to keep the beat through Amazing Grace by raising his mace for all to see. He continued to be an active leader in the Alberta pipe band scene until he hung up his pipes at the age of 81.

If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, John also an avid model railroader and a sailor. He was instrumental in starting a model railroad club with a few acquaintances, which continues to be carried on by some very passionate members. And he had several sailboats in his lifetime, the first of which he built himself.

John was an honourable, loyal and supportive dad, grandfather, and great grandfather, who loved his family and friends with a gentle, kind, encouraging manner. His love and joy shone through his twinkling blue eyes and he was always up for a hug or three.

John was passionate about history, railroads and bagpipes, and was a gifted storyteller, leaving people astonished with his knowledge on a very wide variety of topics. He had a phenomenal memory and his sharp intellect and sense of humour remained engaged until the very end.

He will be greatly missed but well remembered by the many whose lives he touched and will live on in our hearts and our many wonderful memories.

Our thanks to Dr. Eric Estey and team at the Kipnes Centre, Dr. David Tran and Megan at Lakeside Clinic, and especially homecare aide Lillian.

There will be no service at this time due to the pandemic. Interment of ashes will be done at a later date at Bowden Cemetery beside his granddad.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, the SPCA, the Dianne and Irving Kipnes Urology Centre, the Alberta Society of Pipers and Drummers, or charity of your choice.

Please share your stories and memories of John in the comments section. The family would love to hear them.

Will the Lights be White

Oft when I feel the engine swerve
Over strange rails we fair,
I strain my eyes around the curve
For what awaits me there.
When swift and free she carries me
Through the yards unknown at night,
I look along the line to see
That all the lamps are white.
The blue light marks the crippled car,
The green light signals slow.
The red light is the danger light,
The white light, let her go.
Again, the open field we roam,
And when the night is fair
I look up at the starry dome
And wonder what’s up there.
For who can speak for those who dwell
Beyond that curvy sky.
No man has ever lived to tell
Just what it means to die.
Swift toward life’s terminal I Trend,
The run seems short tonight.
God only knows what’s at the end
I hope the lights are white.

-Cy Warman 1855-1914

  1. Rest in the Heather Mr. Reid…your love and kindness to a little Jasper girl is something that I will never forget. I remember once coming to a Big Rock practice and you invited me into the circle….I was so proud to be playing with you again. Keep the Circle Strong Mr Reid, I love you and I will miss you until we meet again in Heaven sincerely, Diana-Jo ❤ ♥ 💖 🙏

  2. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to family and friends on John’s passing. I worked at the Cromdale Shop for 26 years where I met John in 1979. We then moved with the LRT to DL MacDonald Yards in Crestview. John and I shared an office with only a thin wall with a large window and door separating us. By the way, the door was seldom closed allowing us to carry on lengthy conversations when time permitted. One day I noticed John hunched over his desk for a very long time. I had no idea what he was doing and had to satisfy my curiosity. When I peeked in through the door I saw John with a black sewing thread tying it around a black fly. Once finished he let the fly go and literally flew the fly around his office, a sight never forgotten and often talked about over the years. John was there for me over the years, guiding me through tough times even after my retirement. John was a guiding light for many and understand he was a fair supervisor and a true friend to not only myself but to all who knew him. R.I.P dear friend, love you.

  3. I first met John about 30 years ago at a model railway show in Edmonton. It was immediately apparent that we had mutual interests. After a coffee and a talk, an informal group of railway modellers was set up and survives to this day. Although John was a Canadian railroader, he had a British layout at that time, as the rest of us did. He quickly proved that he knew a lot about British railway operation and this was evident in his model railway layout. Much later on, he switched to a North American style layout.

    As mentioned John was a Railroader through and through. Over the last few months since lockdown we had much many talks about railroads in general, and also the Edmonton LRT. Clearly, if the city administrators had listened a little more to John’s experience and advice, we might have had a system that was more car friendly as well as well as being a little kinder to taxpayers money.

    However, what I most remember about John was his love and skill with the bagpipes. As a Scotsman, when living in Scotland, I confess to not having much interest in the bagpipes or in Highland Games. However, John changed all that. I found that I wanted to visit all the local Highland Games. On one of my trips to Scotland, I bought a kilt and the accessories that went with it. I was invited to several Burns suppers with John, and soon discovered that he knew as much about Robbie Burns as I do.

    My most enduring memory of John will always be of him, as Pipe Major, leading the massed pipe bands at Fort Edmonton. Truly a stirring sight.

    John, we will miss you and we will remember you.

    Mike and Jen Black

  4. I first met (Berry) aka John, in 1939 in front of our recently purchased Calgary home on 21 Ave. N.W. He had pulling his wagon* from his home on 24 Ave. to join with Roy Mc Kenny, a neighbor two doors east, to make use of the city’s (said at that time, to be) last cement side walks, on the North Hill. We three became lifetime friends including when we two, Albertian’s, flew down to Detroit to see Roy a year before he passed away.

    *The same wagon is also a tribute to John’s love of keepsakes. A few years ago, son Scott completely refurbished this same wagon for his Dad’s birthday.

    In recent months the two of us shared so many, many unforgettable memories of bygone days.
    We also reminisced how for several years we had lost contact with each other as we ventured into differing employments.

    The last employment reference I had then was that, Barry, was now a full fledged CNR Engineer operating out of Jasper. Finally, I was able to holiday in Jasper and made my way to the CN Yard Office to ask for information for one, “Berry Reid”, only to be told there was only a, John Reid known to them. I decided to visit this John fellow and found my old buddy whose full name was John, Berry. That lead to a nice visit in Jasper. We introduced our wives and met the children and took photos, mainly of Scott as our oldest son is the same age. Due to the distance, our friendship ultimately tapering off to just exchanging Christmas cards etc. for several years

    Our next meeting occurred when my job as a Training Officer for Calgary Transit involved my assisting in setting up equipment for our annual bus rodeo between Edmonton Transit and Calgary Transit. I was tapped on the shoulder and turned only to find, one … J.B. Reid being there in, no less than in his roll of an Edmonton Transit Rail Supervisor.

    After all these years, here we were on even playing fields. From that new encounter John arranged for a group of fellow Calgary Transit supervisors including myself to end up being trained in Edmonton in 1980 taught on their (John’s) procedures which we soon incorporated into our start up for Calgary’s LRT operations.

    So, from wagon days to rail days through 82 years (without one single argument) you can guess the loss I now feel for a dear, and dearest and beloved friend, a fellow could ever have.

    The last few months when I called at least once a week brought, we two friends, oh so close that I will never forget those special day!

    I’ll miss you J.B… love ya guy!!!

    Lorne Fleming

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