Sing a Swan Song for the “Push Pull and Jerk”, Published 11 August 1959
‘Perhaps it would be more polite to announce that the Board of Transport Commissioners has given the Canadian Pacific Railway permission to abandon passenger service between Ottawa and Waltham, the Pontiac and Pacific Junction Line.
‘Trains have been operating on this line up the Pontiac for almost 70 years. In a judgement handed down Monday and signed by Rod Kerr, Chief Commissioner, the board agreed that the line was not paying, and if the railroad chose, it might abandon passenger service after 30 day’s notice. Such notice is expected from the CPR within the next few weeks.
‘Said the commission, in part: “The dispelling of any doubt in the minds of the residents of the area as to the future of the passenger service, the interests of the public generally and also the interests of the railway company, requires a determination without further delay. We are also mindful of the interests of the school children, some of whom would depend upon the train service to attend school beginning again in about one month’s time.
‘“ Weighing among other considerations the patronage that has been given to the passenger service, our opinion is that the economies that would result to the railway company by the discontinuance of the service outweigh the convenience that would remain with the public by the continuance of the service.”
‘The Board of Transport Commissioners has advised that the discontinuance of the service “shall not take effect before 30 days’ notice of the discontinuance is given by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
‘Thus, an historic link is about to be snapped. Easily, the most picturesque of all the lines out of Ottawa, the old Pontiac and Pacific Junction Railway, soon metamorphosed on popular tongue to the Push, Pull and Jerk.
‘The P. P. and J. remained, in name, long after it got respectability by being purchased by the CPR. To begin with,it started off, lobster-wise, by going its first mile backwards. The train and its cars backed a mile or more over to Hull before it could straighten out and head for the Pontiac.
‘The Push, Pull and Jerk was all of that, as it wobbled to Aylmer, fought its way through to Quyon, then then hit those good towns of “The Pontiac”, like Shawville, Campbell’s Bay and Fort Coulonge. Then it panted its way through, finally, to the quaintly picturesque village of Waltham, 79.8 miles from Ottawa Union Station.
‘Somewhere, after the CPR abandoned the old Broad Street station, now only a memory down on The Flats, “The Pontiac” lost two of its four trains, and operated as one train each way, daily except Sunday.
‘In its day, it carried shanty-men and servant girls to town; it took back commercial travellers and farmers.
‘School kids clergymen and summer resorters, the old Pontiac was all things to all people. Everything came slowly to the this train. Closed vestibule coaches came late in the day; wooden coaches lingered. Electric lights were a recent innovation. The Pontiac never saw a parlor car; nobody can remember a dining car running up Shawville way.
‘Now, the CPR is ready for the requiem and the burial. Seventy year’s passenger railroading are expected to end next month.
‘Express will be served on the way freight three times a week, with highway trucks, being employed two other days.