Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Montreal-Vancouver Round Trip Family, August 1968

Travelling along through time, this is part two of a three-part series on our family's 1968 Montreal-Vancouver round trip aboard CN. The scenic first post doubled as a Canada Day 2016 Trackside Treasure homage, and part three provides some railfan-related information on the trip. This second post features family at various points in the trip. All slides are taken by my father L.C. Gagnon (unless you notice he's in a photo!) and scanned by my brother Dave. Some italicized passages are from a trip account typed by my mother. End of a long day: boarding at Montreal's Central Station Aug 5 (top photo).

"We were allowed to board the train about 45 minutes before it left. The children swarmed into our rooms, excitedly exploring what nooks there were. The two bedrooms had unfortunately not been made up en suite, that is there was still a wall separating the two sets of bunks, so we had to go out into the hall to communicate with each other. By the time the train got on the road, we were sitting with lights out watching familiar places go by the window: Montreal, Lachine, Dorval, Valois. I soon quit and settled down to sleep, though I found it rather warm in spite of the fan and 'air conditioning'."
Capreol stop at 1005 the next morning, where we met CN No 2 the Super Continental. 
"We made a lengthy stop at Capreol and we all got out to stretch our legs. But WE were different. MY train-mad family marched up front to photograph the locomotives! Luckily, we hopped back across the tracks just before a train from the west pulled in on them, or we would have been stuck on the other side of it, because our train pulled out before it. I should remark on ice carts running by with melting ice. The blocks, about 2x2x3 ft. were used for cooling the cars and I suppose in the diner for refrigeration as well."  Greenshields at Capreol:
"When the train pulled out, I wanted to make sure the porter remembered to fold back the door to give us one big room instead of two small ones. The room was much roomier made up en suite and it seemed airier, too. From the window we saw a river about 50 feet across and flowing swiftly. We also saw several toppled boxcars - a recent wreck? We wondered. We broke the monotony by playing cards and hangman - something seen out the window, something in the train, the name of a city, something to wear, an animal etc." Onboard entertainment:
"We checked our baggage in the station in the lockers provided for the purpose. We browsed around the station a bit and discussed how we would spend our few hours there. Our taxi driver was very slow-spoken and so what he had to say by way of commentary was drawn out well over the miles. He stopped first, by request, by an old steam engine, the Countess of Dufferin, exhibited outside the CPR station." Stopover in Winnipeg, August 7 aboard the preserved Countess of Dufferin at the Higgins Street CPR station:
"At Edmonton, there was a 30-minute stop. We used the time to walk the full length of the train. It was hard to count the cars, but we agreed there were 15-20. It was chillly, and we were glad of our sweaters. Back in the room, we listened to our new neighbours, another family of five, Americans who had flown to Edmonton from the States and were noisily commenting on the CN facilities!" Buckley Bay during station stop in Edmonton August 8:
"We were a half-hour late arriving at Jasper where we had arranged to make a day's stopover. It would have made an excellent photo if someone had snapped us struggling over to our motel [the not-really-distant Andrew Motor Lodge] with our numerous bags and suitcases! Puff puff!" Jasper, AB on August 8. Note eight-hatch reefers at left; PRR coach at right!
"We had to check out of our room by noon. On to the icefields. Each snowmobile held about a dozen people, and it took about 45 minutes, but there was quite a large fleet of them in operation - about ten. We were back at Jasper in time to squeeze in supper before train time, which was 2005. We had a drawing room, that is just three beds, on this train." Vancouver, BC on August 10 preserved CPR 374:
"We made a rather late evening of it and we had decided not to go on the Pacific Great Eastern train north of Vancouver because it would have made a very long day for the children. That evening, though, Uncle Eric helped entertain them, he played a hockey game (table type) with each of the children in turn and they had a whale of a time." Table hockey with Uncle Eric:
"This day's outing catered to both tastes: man-made wonders and nature; it was an excursion to a logging museum. Uncle Eric drove us the 40 miles along the road from Victoria to Nanaimo (THE two cities on Vancouver Island) to Duncan's logging museum."
Hillcrest Number 9 at Duncan forestry Museum Aug 15:
"Our trip aboard the ferry couldn't have been nicer. First of course, we had our lunch! And our waiter was the best of the whole trip. He smiles, bowed slightly from the waist, said "sir" and "ma'am" and "very good" and practically clicked his heels! He gave me the impression he had had naval service. We admired the speed and grace of the accompanying flock of seagulls, gazed down at the wide wake, and across at the islands we passed in mid-stream and at two ferries crossing in the opposite direction." Aboard Queen of Esquimalt Aug 17 meeting another ferry:
"We left early for the PNE which had opened Saturday. We passed poor Nancy Green, the skiing star, signing autographs at a rate designed to give her writer's cramp if nothing worse. Our family went on a CPR model train ride." Pacific National Exhibition Kiddieland ride - CPR Canadian August 19:
"You can see we were moving right along on this train. First of all, we were going straight home, with no stopovers; secondly, this was the CN's top train, the Super Continental. We travelled through flat Manitoba and were in Winnipeg by noon. Our arrangements for accommodation required us to change cars." Walking in Winnipeg during our stopover eastbound on Aug 22
"Our day was not over. We were due in the dining car for 1:00 and went down to wait in the lounge car - along with about 50 million others! The new crew took an extra two hours to serve us our meal. I could even manage a smile - I was not the kitchen crew with an endless job on their hands and chaos! The last day was pretty tiring. We were still in Northern Ontario, but were appreciative of the many pretty lakes that passed into view at the window. As we got closer to Montreal, we watched the dark countryside swish by without our lights on, and when we crossed the bridge to Ste. Anne's, the west end of Montreal Island, we gathered up our belongings and stood in the vestibule - except for me; I watched by the corridor window till I saw Valois speed by."

Running extra...

Thanks to Edd Fuller of the crisp blog The Trackside Photographer, Prairie Elegy has been born. A unique album elevating the topic of classic Canadian grain elevators.

I've been sitting here in the blogochair populating the blogosphere for nearly eight years now. Coming soon...Trackside Treasure's eighth anniversary, anniversary contest, and the always-surprising Trackside Treasure prize pack!

I tuned in a convention, then an unconventional tune. Demi Lovato serenades Democrats! Would panelling: David Axelrod? Check! Paul Begala? Check! Now, where is David Gergen to expertly enliven and enlighten the panel of experts with his excellent excerpts. Live Tweeting, that's where!


Michael said...

I love reading your mom's travelogue Eric. These photos are true gems. Great family memories and shots of the CN black and white heavyweights. Winning combination.

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Michael. Much credit to my brother for scanning these slides, originally to CD then to thumb drive, thus making them easily manageable and viewable, now shareable!