Off To Arvida, Published 14 October 1943If ever anybody had a crimp put in him by the war, it's been myself, for I can't travel like I used to, and because of that, I am pining away like a blond in a blackout. But the other day I had to go to Arvida on business, and away I went. It was a wonderful feeling. I can tell you. to get the sniff of locomotive smoke in my nostrils, to have a lovely cinder in my eye, and to fill my lungs with that gorgeous railway gravel. I hadn't been so happy since I rode two streamliners the one day.
I hitched on behind one of the new 6200's that Mr. Vaughan is giving us these days, and before I knew it, there was was Limoges outside the windows. I remembered it when it was South Indian, a mighty Junction that sent one train a day, freight and passenger combined, in the whole sixteen odd miles to Rockland. I even noted where the old right of way had grown over, sufficient to deceive the casual tourist, but not enough to be concealed from my sentimental eyes. T
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Then there came the other optical treats, notably the flax fields of Dc Beaujeu. the crossing of the CPR.'s Montreal-Toronto tracks at good old St. Polycarpe, and next thing I knew, we were high-tailing it down the heavy iron on the C.N.'s own double rails to Montreal. The electric locomotive took us over at Turcot, we double-crossed the Lachine Canal, and landed at the new Central Terminal, one minute early.
I had to transfer to Moreau Street Station. For a depot of its Importance, it is just about the least known station in Canada. Thousands and thousands of people in Montreal, even, never heard of it. Yet every C.N.R. train that ever left Montreal for Shawinigan Falls. La Tuque, Noranda. Cochrane. Dolbeau. Arvida and Chlcoutimi has left from Moreau street. Queer how little known this old railway station is, has been, and likely will be. To get to it. you literally go over the viaduct past the gas works, and when you are out about 1550 St. Catherine street east, there the modest little red brick building is. So short is its yardage that the through trains all bond around a curve, and thus you board not so much a limited as an ellipse.
I was taking No. 116 to Arvida. but coupled in with this train is part of No. 11 to Noranda. The latter left us during the night at Hervey Junction. Also during the night we picked up the Quebec-Chicoutlml end of our train at Riviere a Pierre.
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This No. 116 is like no train you ever saw. First of all, it has a most unusual passenger lift. You find aluminum tycoons going north in drawing rooms, and drunken shantymen taking the opiate of whiskey blanc to get them through a night in the day coach. You see earnest young scientists who give with slide rule talk, and American executives who speak fluently of Senator Nye's latest isolationism. Then there are the American hunters, roughing it in expensive sports clothes, and grim old miners sighing for the pre-Cambrian shield as they down their chops in the dining car. What impressed me most of all. however, was that a policeman rides with the train. I understood that in the past, an occasional woodsman would cut loose, and the train would be terrorized by his excesses. There have been occasions before rationing when one coach would pit itself against the other, causing fights, window-breaking, panics to spinsters, hysterics to mothers with small children, and perhaps morning-after achwi to the Knights of the Whiskey Blanc. Today, a C.N.R. policeman goes along, and there is no trouble.
I particularly like the story told me in Arvida about the time two rival lumber-jack factions got fighting. They locked the door and turned the heat on full in the cars, till all the fight oozed out of them in that Turkish bath atmosphere. Then, when they were as tame as tabbies, they unlocked the doors, and let the cooler air in again. As I said before, No. 116 is quite a train.
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We picked our way cautiously through the backyards of Montreal's east end. and it all seemed so unreal to be on a train there. Then we gathered speed as we passed the mighty oil tanks, and a minute or so later, we whipped over two sections of the Back River (Montreal's name for that part of the Ottawa River that goes round north of the Island of Montreal) and not long after, we whizzed by miles and miles of munitions works at St. Paul l'Hcrmite.
I felt that the morrow was going to be a big day. and so had the porter make up my bed early. I was slipping out of my unmentionables and into my nightie as my watch recorded eight o'clock.
In my next, arrived at Arvida.