Maine in January A Geography Lesson, Published 13 February 1933
A GEOGRAPHY LESSON By Austin F. Cross
A thirst to drink in once more the scenes of my nonage, I went back to Maine and New Brunswick the other day. That is to say, I caught Canadian Pacific No. 40 with the 2334 up ahead, and soon left the main lire to take the Maine line. We quitted the rails which led to Ottawa, Stittsville (known in the CPR timetables as Stittville) and Vancouver, and the train next scooted across roof tops, roared over the St. Lawrence, and then slipped past, scraggy, squalid Caughnawaga, the quasi-tubercular hang-out for unemployed steel workers and squaws, better known to Fenimore Cooper devotee and their ilk as the Noble Redskins.
We soon picked up Mount Johnson on the left. I don't want to seen to be stealing the stuff of the lavishly paid civil servant geologist, but Major McKeand and the lads will put me right if Mount Johnson is not part of that queer, much-seen, and little known geological formation, the Mooteregian Range. Travellers Montreal bound have seen another peak in this group ol isolated outcroppings at Rigaud. and again at Oka. Mount Royal itself, the extinct volcano around which the settlement generally referred to a Montreal has grown up, is also a full fledged member of the Monteregian. So are Mounts Rougemont, Beloeil. Yamaska and Bruno. So, if you stand up on Mount Royal, and unless you are an American tourist you usually can stand up, it is possible to see the Laurentians to the north of you. the Monteregians beneath you. the Green Mountains of Vermont on the southeast, and the Adirondack of New York to the southwest. Perhaps, three times a year, you can see the White Mountains of New Hampshire, perhaps.
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Just what all this has to do with a trip to Maine I don't know, so I'll take you back to the parlor car 6611, where a gentleman was having just a touch of pink elephants with vocal refrain. By the way. the secretary of Prince Amorodat of Siam told me once that Siam's white elephants were really pink, because they were albinos.
This leads directly up to the fact that I changed from No. 40 to No. 18 at Sherbrooke, and after feasting at my cousin's home in the Townships city, was soon trying to keep horizontal on a line that was desiged for toboggans. I was heading for Brownville Junction, and at 4.10 a.m., I found myself facing an empty platform and a ten below zero atmosphere. The porter, who probably rever put off a passenger in his life before at Brownville Junction, looked about for another train, a friend, or a taxi, and finally blurted out: 'Z you all ketchin train hyah sah?
I replied in my cultured Booth Street accents that I was going to stay in the town overnight. He gave me up then and there, deposited my baggage alongside a milk can and scurried back to the warmth of sleeper Joliette. I felt I owed it to my chassis to get it in some place for the rest of the night, and asked a baggageman there if he could tell me where the Brownville Junction equivalent of the Chateau Laurier was. He not only told me where the town caravanserai was. but took me there, wakened the lady who ran the place, and got me assigned to a cozy room in a matter cf moment. I beg to record that not only did they have steam heat, but the plumbing was on the inside.
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Next morning I breakfasted at Bryant's, a combination general store and lunch room. Even old customers, as they came in for some "chewin'" or a spool had to wait while the town's only guest was fed. Both where I ate and where I slept, I felt that the people were not alone extremely hospitable, but did not feel called upon to charge extortlonately Just because my coat matched my pants. (That's a sign of prosperity in these latter days cf Technocracy.)
Later, I Just mentioned I wanted a taxi. A carpenter dropped his work, went and got me the town taximan. Mr. Hodgson, who came over to see me in the lunch room personally, while my knife was still yellow from downing my poached egg. I signed him up for the trip, and then believing I owed It to Mr. Beatty to check up on the roundhouse, went over to look at the engines. Locomotive Foreman Gildra, a Canadian, showed me around. and 1 was able to give him the latest news of roundhoiue doings out in the Rockies. He was very interested to hear about 2534.
Then I got my taxi, and drove over to Brownville. As I left the junction, which is the big part of the town, to drive over to the town proper, I felt that my brief stay had been made more pleasurable by the natural hospitality of the Seth Parker country. Courtesy and good manners, fast disappearing acres the line, still holds sway in Maine. After all. I was just a common person, and not what tourist Bonifaces call "important money," and yet I found everybody truly obliging.
The truth is that here still exist the true Anglo-Saxon types. Your American today usually Is a heterogeneous mixture, and so often the oleaginous races contribute too largely in the racial stork you meet. The tendency therefore of Canadians naturally is to dismiss all Americans as brash Babbitts, mouthy and mercenary. Your Maine folk are not like that, however, but are sprung from the same stock that populate the Eastern Townships, even though they do drop their r's and speak the English language through different organs.
My next lesson will contain a few. well-chosen words about the Potato Railway.