Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Canadian to the Pacific

Winnipeg, Sep 13: Depart Union Station Toronto, on time, aboard “The Canadian” VIA train, after TTC subway WAFTI (We Apologise For The Incovenience). We ride the new rail cars on the Yonge, University, Spadina subway line. After about half an hour the train reverses. “We are V-ing out. They took up the tracks ahead, sold off the land.” What do the many Germans onboard think of this? We are riding a slow train with authentic 1950’s ambiance. At Union Station you feel like you are stepping back into the past, as the station is forever a work-in-progress, refurbishments never quite finished, and the stainless steel railcars remind you of those National Geographic advertisements from childhood days.
“The train then turns north and travels on the Newmarket Subdivision until mile 13. There it turns down what is known as a wye, permitting the train to travel east on the York Subdivision before reaching the Bala Subdivision at mile 16. The train then turns northward.” Canadian Rail Travel Guide, Daryl T. Adair.
We pass Parry Sound and Sudbury Junction in darkness. Next morning for breakfast we are at Capreol, mostly stationary, with the CN freight yard on our right. Cheese & Spinach omelet for Annette. The fresh oranges are cut the wrong way! The train has five observation cars with triple-header diesel, riding along in the start of the fall colours. A Danish couple share our breakfast table, conversation is somewhat limited.
Folks from Fort Erie are disgusted with the Liberal government: “I’m a Liberal but they’ve done everything wrong!”. They have shut hospital, schools etc. The horse race track is closing costing 1200 jobs. There are hopes of a NASCAR track to boost the local economy, but the planning process is interminable. Tax in New York state, across the border, is driving people away to Florida. At least there is cheap housing in Fort Erie. We spot a Quaking Aspen trackside.
We are rolling through endless trees, forests, rocks, muskeg, rivers and cabins in the fall sunshine. There are regular stops for freight trains with double-stacked container cars. Ontario is living up to its name – “Land of sparkling waters.” I spot a large black bear ambling along trackside.
We stop at Hornepayne, ON, for a stroll and photo opportunity, in the afternoon sunshine. There is a large derelict station building which speaks of former glory.
Now at Winnipeg after 06:30 breakfast, waiting for the station to open, so we can take a quick look at The Peg. I am constantly thinking of poor George Ernest Willmett.

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