Sunday, September 9, 2012

The train doesn't stop here anymore...

The Canadian National Railway survived the Great Depression and two World Wars. The Mulroney government started the derailment of CN Rail, with the privatization of subsidiaries (CN hotels, CN Marine, Terra Nova) and the sale of train stations:
Augiust 16, 1991 - Order-in-Council - 1480 - Authority for the sale of the CNR Railway Station in Aurora, Ontario to GO Transit.

January 18, 1991 - Canadian National Railways Act - Approval of the entry into a sales agreement between Via Rail Canada Inc., Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Limited of the Ottawa Station Building.
The CN Commercialization Act of 1995 led to the demise of Canada's first Crown corporation, a major industry that employed hundreds of thousands of Canadians.The negative repercussions created by the sale of  the CNR continue to this day:
At The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba a bulldozer operator noticed that hundreds of boxes were left in a CNR building. The operator halted the work and called in a heritage group; two trucks were needed to haul away the historic documents. See the video on YouTube: "24 Hours - CN Archive Found at the Forks."
A few years ago, CN workers at the Symington Yards in Winnipeg, Manitoba were told to remove a Canadian Maple Leaf Flag from inside a building. In 2003, Federal Transport Minister David Collenette called it "obscene" that the railway changed its name from "Canadian National" to "CN"---a move that distanced the company from any reference to Canada.
At one time, the words "Canadian" or "Canada" were going to be removed from the word mark "CN Tower". The mega-corporation is constantly removing railway lines, and train stations have been converted into day care centres, or abandoned...The other day, I saw a photograph in the newspaper of a train station being hauled away on a flatbed truck to a new location. At least the building was not vandalized, set on fire or left to rot (CN offered to give the Grand Trunk Railway Station in Kingston, Ontario to the City of Kingston, but the offer was turned down.)
Back in the 1960's, the major employers in my hometown, Smiths Falls, were the railways, the Hershey Chocolate Factory and the Rideau Regional Hospital School. Via Rail recently built an "adorable" and "small but mighty" train station in my hometown. My two-car garage is bigger than this building:

A Via Rail "stationette" in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
I'll show you what a REAL train station looks like:
Via is selling four acres of land surrounding the Halifax station.

The Thunder Bay, Ontario train station.

Via Rail, an important Crown corporation, a vital industry, is being gutted, just as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is being divested of land, buildings, transmission infrastructure... Long before the Canadian National Railway was privatized, it was stripped of Crown assets.
During the early 1970's, the Trudeau government encouraged Canadians to get out and see their country by train; I bought a railway pass for $100 dollars, which gave me, and thousands of other Canadians, the opportunity to see Canada from coast-to-coast. The trip was unforgettable, despite the fact that I could only afford to eat cheese sandwiches, potato chips and granola (horse food, we called it). My fellow travellers and I sang, strummed guitars and rattled tambourines, played cards, smoked cigarettes,talked endlessly, knitted, wrote letters and marvelled at the scenery...the irreplaceable, wonderful Dominion of Canada. I find it difficult to accept the fact that Bill Gates is a major shareholder of the CNR---a national treasure, The People's Railway, created by my ancestors.


  1. Hello! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Canada by train. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about Canada by train. Keep it up!
    Starting from Vancouver, the Canadian begins at Pacific Central Station. It follows along the CN track to New Westminster, then crosses the New Westminster Bridge. The Canadian then goes on the east track and goes directly to Gifford. It then recrosses the Fraser River to Mission, switching to the CP track and continuing on it all the way to Basque (near Lytton). It is here that both the CP and CN are on the same side of the river and have crossovers to access each other's tracks, and here where the eastbound Canadian transfers from the CP onto the CN line. Shortly thereafter the CN line crosses back over to the west/north side of the Thompson River for the rest of the way to Kamloops. Actually the Canadian stops at the CN station, which is in North Kamloops, across the river from downtown Kamloops. The Canadian continues east on the CN to Toronto, making stops at Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Going west the Canadian does not switch to the CP track in Kamloops; instead it stays on the CN tracks all the way into Vancouver. Two of the highlights of the CN route include the ride through Painted Canyon in which the train clings about 200 feet (61 m) above the Thompson River and the crossing of CN's 800-foot (240 m) steel-arched bridge over the Fraser River and the CP mainine at Cisco.
    Travel in comfort, enjoy world-class service, and experience a vacation that’s been planned ahead for you. All you have to do is take your seat. You’ll be whisked off on your journey, which may be a single-day trip to a multi-city journey over several days. We provide options for lodging and dinner at some of the best restaurants and hotels in your destination city in Canada. You’ll receive vouchers for hotels, meals, and any sightseeing attractions that are included on your trip. Everything is already planned. All you have to do is relax, sit back, and enjoy one of our many train travel vacation experiences.

    Canada by train

  2. Dear Jackie: Thank you for your comments--- travelling across Canada on the CNR was one of the highlights of my life, I vividly remember the train stations; seeing grain elevators in Western Canada; the vast expanses of land...I never really appreciated the majestic Dominion of Canada until my epic cross-country adventure. And I will "Stand on Guard" to protect the symbols, buildings, and historic sites that define this great land.

  3. Hi there! great stuff here, I'm glad that I drop by your page and found this very interesting. Thanks for sharing , hoping to read something like this in the future! Keep it up!
    Skiers, shoppers, art historians, fine diners, outdoorsmen (and women)—Canada is calling. If you’ve been to one of our Canadian destinations in the past, then you know what we mean when we imply that these cosmopolitan cities offer something for everyone. If you haven’t, then prepare to be entertained and enthralled with everything that Canada has to offer. Whether you’re familiar with the areas or not, experiencing this pristine land by train travel is like nothing you’ve done before..

    train travel to canada