Don Station, Published 29 March 1941Anyway, we started for the Don. Finally, in the midst of a wind-swept station, the driver said: "This is it."
I saw a flight of stairs, started for the steps with my baggage, but dropped my bags to grab my hat. Then edging toward the descent, I crawled down its icy boards. When I got to the bottom, it was a differenfr world. I was somewhere out in the country. See if you can see what I was seeing.
While up above the modern streamlined street cars rumbled by, and while an isolated taxi honked, and while modern street lights twinkled, at least it was a city, even if it was Toronto. But down here, a little thing the size of a construction shack, was the Don Station. A couple of lights, green or red, twinkled down the tracks. The cold Don reflected the colored signals.
I went inside the station, and a potbellied stove gave off heat in the waiting room. In the stationmaster's office was a warmer stove. Signs on the walls told of steamships now sunk. The blandishments of going places you cannot go to were enticingly printed on posters. Little wooden benches accommodated the knot of passengers.
* * *
Now the fun really began. When you go on a train from a big station, the track numbers always tell you where your train is. If the train is in sections, the numbers of your sleepers are chalked on a blackboard. But when you are at the Don, you are on your own, except for a friendly stationmaster. He really worked hard. For me to explain this, you will have to be patient. There were to be two sections of train No. 22 to Montreal, and two ditto of No. 34 to Ottawa. Besides that, there might be a third section of the Montreal train. There may be suffering among the soldiers who can't ride free, but you'd never guess it from the way the uniforms were piling into the trains.
So then, you had to know in what section your car was. The first No. 22 came along with 13 cars, dragged by the powerful 3101 with a 3600 class as a helper up the grade to Leaside. We checked with the parlor car conductor, but there was not a person in our dozen who got on this one.
The next question was, what would the second train be. Would it be the first 34 or the second 22? Such fun! It turned out to be the second 22 behind a big 2800 type, and another 3600 for a helper. But, despite the fact this train went to Montreal, it might easily play Good Samaritan and help the Ottawa train by lugging a couple of sleepers to Smiths Falls. The grades by the Lake Shore are better than via Peterboro, where the Ottawa train goes. But. the second 22 came and went, and I still was waiting.
Next, around the bend was a train which turned out to be the first No. 34. or the first Ottawa train. I felt enormously proud when they gave us the streamlined 2840 to go ahead of 2330, which latter engine goes back to 1919 or thereabouts. But I did not know whether my car would be on the first 34 or not. I was assured it would not be so of course as it, turned out, it was. Then the day coach conductor had to go back and rap on the windows, to attract, the attention of somebody.
It is a curse of Toronto that they never open up the doors and steps of sleepers at suburban stations (once at Parkdale, on a bitter winter night, the C.P.R. left a woman and three small children standing on the platform, when the Winnipeg train went out. somebody heard about that).
Well, they are still leaving the public pretty much standing in the cold. However, my day coach conductor, after a minute or two and it was fully that long got, the attention of the parlor car conductor, and he opened up.
I climbed aboard, and duly fount Lower 8 in the car "Tache." I looked out and saw still a little group huddling in the cold, waiting for the second 34, or perhaps the third 22. Yes, taking a train at the Don is a real adventure.
We dropped our classy 2840 at Leaside, and plodded on to Ottawa with 2330.