Along the Old Intercolonial. Published 24 September 1942The trip from Sydney to Montreal offers you plenty of variety. The train spends a long time catering to the needs of the three Sydneys before it straightens out again and heads for the mainland of Nova Scotia. It was enchanting to prop yourself up in a berth and watch the moon play on the salt waves of Bras D'Or Lakes. I realized too that not far from here J. A. D. MacCurdy made the first flight on Canadian soil, and I realized also that I was close to the latter day shrine of Alexander Graham Bell, who after he had contrived to send the human voice around the world, took his ease every summer at Baddeck. But these considerations did not stop me from falling off to sleep, and the next thing I knew, Truro was outside my window.
Here I changed trains but not cars, the sleeper Stratford accommodatingly going the whole way through to Montreal. I met Hon. James MacKinnon, minister of trade and commerce, who had shipped his car down so he could motor over the Cabot Trail. So scarce was gasoline down there this summer that, up till the end of August, only 1,200 cars had gone round the trail.
There are moments of mild entertainment as you ride west on the Ocean Limited. Debert, where the soldiers wait their turn to go overseas, looks dismal enough from the train. And the Wentworth Valley which should be an optical highlight of the trip is seen too quickly, and with too many trees obstructing the view, to be all it might be in the way of scenery.
* * *
I found of passing interest but no more, the gloomy penitentiary at Dorchester, and St. Joseph's College at Memramcook. Mount Allison at Sackville I could not identify, but I hoped it was better than the University of New Brunswick at Fredericton. I was more interested in the Tantramar Marshes, whose oozy depths once threatened to make Nova Scotia an island. For the project of the Chignecto rail ship canal was a hot one about half a century ago, and it almost went through. It seems to me that more might be made of these flat lands than what either provincial government has done so far. But then that is true generally of the Maritimes. They have never made as much of themselves as they should, always waiting for that milch cow, Confederation, to do it for them.
Incidentally. I believe Tantramar is the corruption of a French phrase meaning "what a noise" and derived from the fact that the wild fowl there at one time raised a real din.
Moncton. most up-to-date city of the Maritimes is always an interesting milepost. They are railroading in a hurry there these days, and the old traditional, lackadaisical stop seems to be out for the duration. Soon we were rolling west, and I had the pleasure of pointing out to Mr. MacKinnon a place called Pacific Junction. It was from here that the great National Transcontinental started. What high hopes it engendered, what political pressure it caused, what national rumpuses it developed! Now it is just a useful sideline of the Canadian National. Shades of Blair, Shaughnessy, and Meighen!
* * *
From Moncton to Newcastle, you can close your eyes and not miss a thing. Then at this point you cross the Mirimachi. one of the great salmon streams of the world. At Newcastle also is where they stopped the special train when Bessborough came to Canada, and it was here at the Anglican Church that the new governor general read the lesson during his first Sabbath in this country.
Once you are beyond Bathurst. near where you get some of the best salt water bathing in Canada (the water is really warm, as Jacques Cartier said) you begin to see the rugged coast of Gaspe detach itself from infinity, and when you near Campbellton. last N.B. town, it is so close as to be the opposite side of a wide river. Back of Campbellton is a nondescript lump called Sugarloaf Mountain, yet said to be one of the highest points in New Brunswick.
The old Intercolonial used to advertise its trains with a background of the Restigouche estuary, and you saw mountains, delightful islands, river and sea all combined. The old I.C.R. publicists were right, for the whole main line from Halifax to Montreal, reveals nothing more beautiful in all its 841.5 miles. They also throw in a tunnel, which is added value. Below you as you head west from Campbellton is the swank Restigouche. where it costs $100 to catch a fish under the auspices which you must surround yourself with if you seek fishing in those exalted waters. I could write a whole article about fishing in these parts, because I once did a bit of research here. I also could extol the beauties of the Metapedia, through which we threaded our way behind 6127 and 18 cars, but I have t done all that before in these columns. Instead, I shall simply say: Well, here's Bonaventure Station.