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I snapped the top photo while walking up and over the CN tracks from the station upon arrival at Prince Rupert at around 1830. In Part 1 I travelled to Vancouver, then in Part 2 it was Vancouver to Edmonton thence Prince Rupert.
PRINCE RUPERT - EDMONTON - WINNIPEG - REGINA - THUNDER BAY - KINGSTONI stayed at the Crest Motel and checked out the next morning, September 25 around 0700. It was only a five-minute walk to the station. A fellow at the station offered to mail my postcards for me, and did! There are no mailboxes there, just the main post office. About 30 miles out of Prince Rupert, we were held up for 3 hours after a work train derailed its caboose at Tyee, BC. We were able to make up a little bit of time - still cloudy. Newly chop-nosed CN 7002 at the shop as we pull out of Prince Rupert: For about 90 minutes out of Prince Rupert, the rails travel along the Skeena River. It is wider and slower near the coast, but faster inland. I did a lot of reading at this gloomy point, but it turned sunny towards evening. I usually slept well on the train, as I almost always had two seats to myself and had brought along a pillow. I was still collecting train orders as on the trip west. The conductor wears a white vest over her uniform and usually carried her hat - station stop at Terrace, BC: I woke up in Jasper, and for the third time in two days travelled between there and Edmonton. VIA held No 4 for our late arrival and tacked us on the end (about one-and-a-half hours late, normally a 1-hour connection). I went down into the Edmonton station, then reboarded No 4. For the first time, the coach was packed! (Only one coach, not enough obviously.) I was seated beside a Dutch lady who was going to Toronto, but I went up to dome car about 30 miles out of Edmonton.
I snapped pictures of elevators at every town, right into Saskatchewan. About 20 towns in all, like Ribstone, Wainwright, Chauvin and Butze, AB, even though it was cloudy and a bit rainy. Crossing into Saskatchewan border it is virgin prairie, with no houses, roads or anything for a long piece. It is rolling country with few trees. Very interesting but desolate. Darkness was falling and I went back to coach very satisfied with elevator photos, and talked to the Dutch lady about Holland, and how small it is compared to Canada. She was surprised at the size of everything, and was following her map religiously. During daylight, I don’t think she took her eyes of the window once!
She was offered a sleeper for the night by the service manager, so I had both seats again. I woke up briefly on Friday morning, September 27 going through Portage, once again into Winnipeg. I repeated my trick of going back to the dome car washroom at three in the morning to wash my hair in the sink. There, that feels better! Arrival in Winnipeg was around 0800 and I had a 13-hour layover. I walked down Portage Avenue, visiting the army surplus store, Eaton’s, a book shop, then to the United Grain Growers building, where I talked to their librarian. He gave me several booklets and pictures of elevators. Then to their construction department, where I was able to talk to a draftsman. He remembered receiving my letter, from this elevator-entranced Easterner about a year or so ago, asking for plans. We talked ‘shop’ for a while. I also visited the offices of Manitoba Pool Elevators, the Canadian Wheat Board and Alberta Wheat Pool. I dropped some of my stuff back at the station, then went to the Eaton Centre mini-mall and watched Beverly Hills Cop - very funny. I had lunch there, complete with one litre drink of Pepsi, then back to the station where I had fish and chips for supper in the cafeteria.
Unfortunately, the train taking me west again was running about three hours late. That didn’t bother me though, because I didn’t want to get into Regina at 0230 anyway. Finally the train came in, and I again used my ‘secret’ passageway to get on early and get a good seat. I looked scruffy enough at this point to pass for a brakeman or car-knocker under the train shed. You just have to look like you know where you’re going!
An uneventful trip to Regina, except for one loud guy telling a young woman all his hard-luck romance stories, and keeping the seat light on. I arrived in Regina around 0430 on September 28, after passing through flurries near Broadview. I stayed in the station as long as I could (0500) then walked with all my luggage to find the Tilden rental car office at about 0520, and waited until 8 am in 0-degree C weather, doing jumping-jacks to stay warm. I ate my breakfast and read, all inside the doorway of such-and-such law firm! FINALLY at 8, the clerk showed up, and guess what, they didn’t have my reservation. Did I have time to wait for a car to be driven over from the airport? Of course I said 'No!', so he had to give me a Chrysler Fifth Avenue (silver) that was there, at the same rate ($10.95 a day plus 15 cents a kilometre). This was going to be a sweet ride! It took me 30 km of driving to find my way out of Regina, but finally got on road to Davin (lettered Adair my first elevator in snow - above), Odessa, Montmartre. Snowing very lightly, I stopped at each town on my pre-selected route to get elevator pictures, but didn’t see any trains on these branchlines. Then through Francis, Tyvan, Fillmore etc. Got temporarily lost for about 20 minutes on country dirt roads! Pulled into Weyburn around 1700, stayed at the Big J Motel which is right across the highway from the CP line to the States and some elevators. Supper was from McDonald’s, right next-door to the motel.
I left the next morning, Sunday, September 29 around 0800, driving through Yellow Grass, Cedoux and Lewvan, Colfax, Milestone, a little sunnier. Had the stereo, cruise control on. This Fifth Avenue was fully-loaded, so I felt like king of the road! Most places I would roll down my power windows and take the elevator photo right out the window, so I wouldn’t have to bother getting out and scuffing the upholstery. Gas was running low around Colfax, on my return to Regina, and I could have made it the 35 km to Regina to refill, but didn’t. It started suddenly dropping to E, with dash indicator flashing around Riceton. Made a quick trip to Gray, then coasted into Regina, filled up at Petro Can with about 15 litres, just to make sure. There was time to power-wash the car (filthy from mud by now) and got Burger King lunch, which I ate at the elevators at Rowatt, just south of Regina on CN.
It was back to CP station around supper to watch trains, pick up McDonald’s supper and also drove over to RCMP Depot Division, where I got a few souvenirs. Accosted back at station by CP (paranoid) cop, but assuaged him when he learned I was a railfan. Took rental car back, dropped off keys, then walked to station to catch No 2 around 2315. By now I was getting used to finding the premier seats in the coach and stowing my gear. Riding into Winnipeg the next morning, where I walked into the station to get a newspaper and a Coke. A slice of life as kids wait for the arriving school bus, Monday morning of September 30, as our departing train heads out of Winnipeg's refinery district on a high line: Husky the Muskie is under repair at Kenora: It was a cloudy ride through to Ignace, so caught up on my sleep. Got to Thunder Bay that night around 1900, in wet snow. There I caught a Lacey’s cab to the Red Oak Inn. I had originally planned to take mixed trains Nos 277/278 to Sioux Lookout the next day, but was too tired to do so now, so stayed over in Thunder Bay anyway. I walked across the street and picked up a pizza for supper, after deciding not to eat at the Red Oak’s poolside coffee shop, where you’d smell more chlorine than taste your meal!
I checked out at last possible second before 1300 the next day, October 1, after eating my slightly disappointing room service breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs and toast. I walked around Thunder Bay, got six donuts from Robin’s Donuts for supper with Coke, then went to the station. There had been a derailment to the west around English River, so they stopped No 1 westbound at Thunder Bay, turned it to use as No 2, and we were waiting for the eastbound passengers to be bussed around the wrecksite from Ignace. They got there about three hours late. Two or three busloads finally arrived, the crew with the first. We eventually left around 2200. No 2’s consist at Thunder Bay (was turned No 1) 6312-6618-6787-9656-100-3207-503-5716-Thompson Manor-Christie Manor-Burton Manor-Emerald-Englee-Evelyn-S/S diner/Tweedsmuir Park.
We got into Sudbury the next morning, October 2 at around 1000, and I hurried over to the CP shops to get some pictures of snowplows and locomotives before departure - now very sunny. I was in the vestibule for about 40 miles, lots of fall colours. As always, a nice ride into Toronto through Barrie, Washago and Newmarket, except for dirty coach windows. From the vestibule, ex-QNS&L 5414 as second unit as we meet a westbound CP freight: Views of our train and fall colours on curves: Arrival in Toronto was about 1915, two-and-a-half-hours late. Normally a seven-hour layover, it ended up being around four hours. I had ample time to walk over to the Royal York Hotel for clubhouse sandwich supper, then stewardess-watched in the lobby for about an hour before boarding the Cavalier to Ottawa around 2330. I was able to turn two seats to sleep on.
I arrived in Ottawa around 0630, began walking downtown about. Went to Parliament Hill to inquire about seeing Question Period, then to my favourite hobby shop, Hobby World. I returned to Parliament and obtained pass to see Question Period on Monday instead. Saw Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark arriving in official cars, Mulroney with RCMP unmarked escort. Walked back to station, had chips and a Coke for supper. I read a newspaper paper there and boarded No 45 to Kingston at 1700. (I returned Monday to Ottawa aboard VIA.)
This trip was not uneventful: late-running, a turned train and last-minute changes of plans. With a pass, there was flexibility. While this account is definitely folksy and newsy in parts, it provides a snapshot of travel along lines not currently served by VIA, when the transcontinental trains catered to a cross-section of international and Canadian clientele. Thanks for coming along for the ride, even with the 36-year delay in posting this account of my cross-Canada journey!
I was proud to publicize the Mother Parker's Remembers tour back in 2012 showcasing private car Pacific. I'm equally proud to have two of my photos featured in the V21N1 issue of CN LINES magazine. Taken at Kingston's VIA station, they accompany the article by David Walmsley and Al Lill (sneak peak - above). What a pleasure it was to see a passenger car sporting actual marker lamps at the station once again!
Speaking of coffee, my mother-in-law recently told us she had a hankerin' for instant coffee. I had no such hankering. My recollection of the thin, woody stuff was drinking it at 0300, in a cup on a stack of paper towels beside my microscope, during a midnight shift in the Hematology Laboratory reading a box of blood smears. I have been delivered from that fate by the decline of the carafe coffee-maker and the ascendency of the Keurig K-cup! O-K!http://feeds.feedburner.com/TracksideTreasure
This article first appeared on tracksidetreasure.blogspot.com
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