7,000 Mile Trip West, Published 9 October 1944After playing around the east this summer,, with such small trips as a fast run to Bretton "Woods, three dives into Chicago, and other mileage trivia, I really went places this fall.
In the forthcoming series, you will travel right through to the coast, visit the four western prime ministers, ride three new railways, and spend a day around John Bracken's farm. This safari also embraces an idyllic trip up the languorous Arrow Lakes, a sentimental pilgrimace back to Rosefield School, which I opened up in 1919. and a flight down from the Peace River on a Canadian Pacific plane. Such is the framework of my trip. I pick you up now, in the lee of the Bertrand Boys, down at the Union depot.
Old 6029, vintage of 1923, couldn"t get rolling very well that night, and anyway, we got held up while the shunter was trying to hitch Hon. James MacKinnon's car onto No. 1. So an hour later, we were still hanging over the bridge at Ottawa East. Hon. Mr. MacKinnon was not the only privy councillor we had aboard, since Hon. William Mulock. Postmaster. General, exhausted after a session looking after his postage stamps, was on his way to the hinterland and some fishing. I talked shop with him for a while, trying to put him straight on a few matters, then metaphorically tucked him in for the night before I retired to my own car.
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At Capreol we were still a little in arrears, and it took us most of the day to get back on time. In fact, we would have gone into Winnipeg on time, if we had not stopped to load some blueberries at wan and lonely Redditt. Meanwhile, we moved with ease through the wilds of Northern Ontario, passing Folyet and Hornepayne, the two divisional points, in due course. Only place worth honorable mention was Longlac, a railway ellipse around the corner of a beautiful lake. It is here that the old Canadian Northern swings south toward Fort William, while the shrewd Nakina cut-off. brain-child of Sir Henry Thornton, turns north through Isis and Bawk to Nakina. It is just as well that it gets dark along here, since by the time you have reached this point, you are pretty tired of Christinas trees.
I can't say that I got too excited at the scene as I saw it when I woke, while the rising sun incarnadined my counterpane, because it was still the same old wilderness, beautiful for an hour, boring after two hours. But I resigned myself to the inevitable. I always regret that the train gives you so little time at Minaki. because I always feel I would like to have as much time as they give you at Jasper, where you have a chance to to tip to the lodgc and drink in the scene.
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To mc it is always a thrill, always has been a thrill, and always will be a thrill, to watch the pre-Cambrian shield, after more than a day, finally give way to the flat country, and then to note this flat, well-treed country yield mile by mile, to the prairie. There is a glimpse of what is to come at the village of Elma, and then the woods close in again. Here is and close to Winnipeg, yet virgin soil still beckoning the plowman and the pioneer.
But the Red River Valley is not to be denied forever, and finally you get the thrill of the golden fields, glistening flat and far, through the trees. Then the trees close in again, but not for long. For soon the scene is one of almost steady crops, and the forests give up the struggle. They do not close in again till the foothills are reached, over 800 miles further west.
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I may have something to say about Winnipeg later, so I shall not do much about it now, except to record that it looked brighter than ever under the strong prairie sun. There is always a thrill when you get that first puff of brisk prairie air as you step off the train. There is the delight of striding down Main Street, after an absence of years, of making one more sally down Portage. Winnipeg, where east meets west, is still an invigorating town. Of its delights I shall not chant now. I only want to say that I wert out to the park and got a wonderful look at a beaver. I had really never seen one at close range before. But castor canadensis really did his stuff for m this time.
In my next, a trip on the Greater Winnipeg Waterways.