My 76th Railway (Roberval and Saguenay), Published 19 October 1943Here we are taking in the sights of Arvida. This town, inspired by the Aluminum Company of Canada, is named after Arthur Vining Davis, one-time head of the aluminum firm, and if you take the first two letters of his three names, it comes out to Ar-vi-da. Incidentally, the English people pronounce it to rhyme with Ida, while the French sound it to rhyme with Rita.
Mr. DuBosc. a brilliant South Carolina engineer who is head man at Arvida, thoughtfully undertook to show me Shipshaw. But I have written so much about Shipshaw, by long distance, and listened to the spilling of so many words about it, that although he got me out to Shipshaw, I was like the horse in the old saw that you could lead to water but couldn't make drink. In short, they could not make me look at Shipshaw.
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Meanwhile, Mr. DuBose, a far smarter man than most, caught on right away when I told him I wanted to ride the Roberval Saguenay. What was the breath-taking Shipshaw. the most exciting thing built exclusively in Canada this war, if I could only ride the R.S. I say Mr. DuBose is smart, because he did not try to ram the spectacular $65,000,000 Shipshaw down my throat. He arranged right away for me to ride the Roberval Saguenay. So. to the amazement, I think, of the others on this personally-escorted tour, I gave Shipshaw the go-by. surrendered my hard-to-get pass, and was soon down at the railway yards.
Guide and dry nurse for the occasion was Stanley Rough. superintendent of the Montreal parks and playgrounds for many years, and now in charge of recreational facilities at Arvida. But Stan Rough is a much bigger man than a fellow who merely puts lads through some calisthenics. He has a philosophy of life, a way with people, and is a person of infinite understanding. He therefore humored me and came along for the ride when I made ready to ride the Roberval Saguenay.
This line operates a line from Arvida down to Bagotville, a tidewater port just below Chicoutimi on the Saguenay river. The R.S. also operates a passenger train that never comes back. The folder shows it leaving Arvida every day for Bagotville. but indicates it as never returning. I found out it comes back on irregular schedule at the back of an ore train every day.
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The idea was to give me a ride down the line, then send a car down to a certain point where the train would make a special stop to bring me back. This was all arranged, and there was a certain old-world courtesy about the Aluminum Company, from Mr. DuBose right down, in handling me and my trip.
We walked down the track, and soon I mounted the caboose, where I wsa assigned the seat of honor in the cupola. Incidentally, a policeman rides all these trains, just in case. I got up in the cupola, behind a string of rust-colored cars powdered with bauxite. and then R.S. No. 17 coupled on. Slowly, we crawled out of the yard, crossed the main line of the C.N. at 15 m p h. and then did the best we could up the hill. On top we started to pick up speed along the flat, and we were just nicely getting under way when the brakes went on. That was for me. Making a perfect stop, the engineer with his long train brought the caboose to a halt even with the highway, where a car was thoughtfully waiting for me. A couple of minutes later, I was back at the Saguenay Inn. where the American business man who had "done" Shipshaw wondered at the curious specimen who seemed to have normal functions and yet who preferred to ride a freight train to seeing Shipshaw. It'a a mad world, my masters.
That afternoon I had the honour of addressing the Women's Canadian Club of the Saguenay, an experience I enjoyed, and one which I can only hope was reciprocal. I found the ladies there very keen about what Ottawa was doing, and where they were deficient in information, seeking to augment their knowledge. They certainly wanted to know what made Ottawa tick. I enjoyed the whole occasion so much that I hope I get asked back again some time.
I would like to tell you about the aluminum pots, which I specially wanted to aee, and did. but if I do, Munitions and Supply has got to look over my copy and since I went there to speak and not to write, the best way to keep things straight is to say nothing about the impressive spectacle it was my great luck to behold.
During my visit, I saw Rev. Maynard Booth, old Ottawa Collegiate boy, now looking after the United Church there, as well as allied army interests. I last met him when I was cub reporter on The Citizen, over 20 years ago. the night I went out to cover a sermon at West End Methodist church, and ended up having a cup of tea at his mother's house, being invited there after service.
I got a real kick out of seeing Arvida. For all my travels. I had never been there before. It is one place I want to go back to for another look