Wistful Memories As 'Crack Locomotive‘One of the last of the old-time “Pacific” type engines of the Canadian National railways is getting ready to whistle its swan song. It is CNR No 5559.
‘There are a waning few of us around here who can recall when the 4-6-2 type engine came to Ottawa, away back in 1913.
‘At that time, the old Grand Trunk Railway, making a serious bid for the passenger service between Montreal and Ottawa, felt it was losing out to the new Pacific types on the Canadian Pacific lines.
‘So, in the spring of 1913, train fans were surprised and delighted to see on the evening Grand Trunk local from Montreal, as she parallelled the Driveway, some big new Pacific type engines. The Grand Trunk had given up on the lighter 300 class, and such types as 3l5, and its sisters were sent to other branches while engines running where from 181 to 242 began to appear regularly.
The 300-type they replaced were routine ten-wheeler class engines, somewhat reminiscent of the kind Casey Jones had driven to his death at the turn of the century.
‘So began a great era as the Grand Trunk started sending its behemoths up to Ottawa.
‘Conspicuous among these was GTR No. 203, The then comparatively new engine was fresh from triumphs on the main line between Montreal and Brockville. At that time, the fastest scheduled time in all Canada was the two hours and 45 minutes old No. 1 the International Limited,did every day, over the 125 mile run.
‘No. 203 ran 10 years before she became part of the new Canadian National and had her number changed to 5559.
‘As 5559, the transformed CNR engine hauled the Continental Limited up to Brent, the first divisional point west of Ottawa. She ran morning or evening, as the case might be, between here and Montreal.
But the years began to take their toll, and when Sir Henry Thornton brought out the first 6000 class, these finally “bumped” the 5500 class off the best runs.
‘Still, 5559 held on, running sometimes around Ottawa, sometimes out of Montreal.
‘ ‘This class K-3-a Pacific type finally lost out to the bigger power and now bows to the diesel.
‘She operated as a suburban out of Montreal and finally, when her sister CNR 5562 was sent to the shops in Montreal, back came 5559, the old Grand Trunk 203, to Ottawa.
‘Today she is running on the Barrys Bay line, also on borrowed time.
‘One never knows when the “growlers”, the efficient but unromantic diesel, will replace all the friendly and lovable steam engines.
‘So every weekday morning at 7:50 these days, and every evening except Sunday at 3:50, you could see the ancient Pacific leaving the Union Station.
‘Now over 40 years old, and indeed nearing her 50th birthday, the old Pacific runs its 112.3 miles up to Barry Bay stays from 11:32 to 12:05 at this Renfrew County terminal and then starts back,‘But 5559 is on borrowed time. Some time soon, the big boss will whistle in the 5559 for the last time, and her obituary shortly afterwards will be written from the scrap in Montreal.