Amherst Then On To Joggins, Published 17 December 1945Here we are rolling into Amherst. This town, uninspiring enough as you first approach it, nevertheless takes on an inner lustre as you conjure up its past, as you recall the parade of great names to march out of it, and on into some of the brightest pages of Canadian history.
First there is Sir Charles Tupper, Lion of Cumberland, a real father of Confederation. Then there still stands the home of Hon. Jonathan McCully, another almost forgotten Father. Here too grew up Hon. Edgar Rhodes, an immaculate, straight as a. ramrod figure, an engaging personality, who as Premier of Nova Scotia, and Minister of Finance here, and finally, ending his days in the Senate, was a mighty figure. Ted Rhodes, in business in Ottawa, is a son. I'll never forget Hon. Mr. Rhodes' friendliness to the press, his willingness to be quoted.
As I passed the Baptist Church, I saw where Hon. J. L. Ralston, great in finance, and courageous in National Defence, attended worship. Ralston has gone far since those days.
Nor does the parade from Cumberland end there. Less spectacular, but doing his job well, is R. K. Smith, former MP. and present civil servant, and now, Percy Black. M.P. Cumberland's men do not inevitably make the biggest headlines, but they get their own small corner of the country's approbation.
I had mentioned earlier that my train was being held for me, and so it was. Finally, after all these digressions, I give you the Maritime Railway. This little line runs from Maccan, on the main line of the CNR into Joggins, a coal village. When I got to Maccan, engine No. 9 was panting quietly, ready to whip out across the county. No. 9 is a 2-6-0 type, and one of three locomotives the company has.
They had provided me with a pass, but I don't care for soft living, and with a fine disdain for money, bought a conductor's ticket to Rector's Crossing. The Citizen paid the 15 cents anyway. Conductor H. A. Hood gave her the highball, and we were away. At Rector's Crossing I got out, and Mr. Avard motored me in to Joggins. There Percy MacPherson showed me round the roundhouse, and then I went out for a look. I was in an interesting area. True, the less I saw about dismal Joggins the better. But across a finger of the Bay of Fundy were the Chopody Mountains, in the midst of which, you could take on faith, in lieu of seeing. Hopewell, birthplace of Lord Bennett. Just below us were amazing geological formations. That made me recall a summer, way back in 1923. I came out from the Museum, then my beat, with a yarn about a prehistoric tree being found at Joggins. I remember the whole event very well, because the late Bob Martin, always one to encourage a junior newspaperman, put it on page 1. Joggins gave me my first Page One story, 22 years ago.
Of considerable interest to that part of the world is the power plant at Maccan. Now you don't need to expect anything very intelligent nor intelligible from me, because I wouldn't know a kilocycle from a calorie. But I am informed that this plant was designed to take coal waste and convert it into fuel. Again, I believe that the operation is so cheaply performed that from this coal powder, electric power is developed as cheaply as it can be done by hydro in many other parts of Canada. The plant has a sort of Jekyll and Hyde aspect to it. You go on one side, see the coal coming in, note the gigantic furnaces, the white heat. Then you cross to the other side, and you see big wheels, hear the whir of dynamos, and take it for granted that the powdered coal has been metamorphosed into electric energy.
Among the seeming incongruities in that section is the oil derrick. Texas and Philadelphia experts are trying to see if they can't find oil down that way, and are investing quite a bit of time and money in the project. What a marvellous thing for the Maritimes if they can strike oil down there.
So we swung back from the power house to Maccan, and then saying farewell to the last view of the Tantramar, we rode up into the Cobequid Hills. Gone were the sinuous and muddy creeks. This now was a harsh land of pine and rock.
We headed up and down till we saw Springhill, at a distance, up on a hill. By riding the Maritime Coal Railway and Power Company, I had managed to do my 104th railway. Immediately ahead was No. 106. Two new railways, in an afternoon in Canada was a record for me.
In my next, riding the Cumberland.