.Whirlwind Trip To Chicago, Published 24 April 1944Kiwanians in Chicago invited me to speak to them about Canada's war effort, and that is why you find me aboard the Canadian Pacific's train No. 559, Toronto bound. This was to be a quick affair, spending only a day in Chicago, and the rest of the time going and coming. So here we are, standing out at the rear of the platform of a converted parlor car, watching the spires of Ottawa metamorphose into the rooftops of Hull. Then after a couple of miles in Quebec province, we re-crossed the Ottawa River, and for some reason known only to C.P.R. despatchers, waited an endless time at Ottawa West. Ottawa West is that unknown station at the bottom of Bayview avenue, abeam the roundhouse. I can well understand how through trains should be serviced there, but that a train, fresh out of Ottawa, and only 3.9 miles from the Union Station, should have to stop long enough to celebrate Old Home Week, always leaves me bewildered and irritated.
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There was a pause at Smiths Falls, and then we did the best we could to Brockville. I would like to say a word about this Smiths Falls-Brockville sector. Here is a piece of road only 27.5 miles long. The countryside is not particularly thickly settled, in the sense that the outskirts of Toronto or the purlieus of Montreal are. Yet there are ten stations in all from the Falls to the Island City, including the last named. That means an average of a station every 2.75 miles. Why, I don't know. The chances are that the average Ottawan never heard of most of them. See how many you, dear reader, have ever heard of up till. now: Story, Jasper, Yule, Bell, Jelly, Bellamy, Hawkens, Clark, and Fairfield. In case you are counting, Brockville makes the tenth.
We fled past these 2.75 station-average landmarks, and then dropped quietly into Brockville. There on the other track, the first No. 15 was already waiting for us, headed by C.N. 6234, one of the crack fleet new engines. What also caught my eye was diner No. 1301, with lovely smoke coming out of her chimney. I say lovely, because that meant dinner was ready. I was too, and with a speed which surprises many who view only my bulk, but with what I can best describe as the homing-pigeon instinct for dining cars, I quickly landed behind a big steak. Yes, steaks are back in Mr. Swinden's diners.
This erstwhile beef I quickly surrounded, then looked over my speech manuscript for a while. Tiring of reading my own writing. I pursued my time tables for an hour, noting as I did so that a priest opposite me was reading his breviary. Each to his taste, I thought. I never believed I should live to see the day I would sigh for Toronto, but I did. The day coach was noisy, it was not new, and it was getting dark. Fortunately, the 6234 ran like a scared deer, and we arrived in Toronto 15 minutes ahead of time. Those new C.N.R. engines can really go.
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Then came all that labyrinthine loping that goes by the name of changing trains, in Toronto's station, and soon after, I was aboard the Canadian Pacific's No. 19. I really was travelling now. In a comfortable "S" sleeper, with a solarium car on behind. Clean, bright, air-conditioned, it is wonderful how the railways keep up this kind of equipment. I took a sprint to the head end to see our engine, which turned out to be one of those high wheelers. No. 3002 by name. We and the C.N.R.'s No. 15. also Chicago bound, ran a dead heat down to the cross over. But since we had to cut over their rails to head north through Park-dale, they put the board against us. and the International Limited flaunted her lights in our faces. She beat us to Chicago by 20 minutes.
Our 3002 rolled us swiftly into the night. She makes by far the fastest time on either railroad between Toronto and London. Meanwhile, the Customs amenities had to be observed. Herewith a bouquet for the American system, a Bronx cheer for our own. For at least 14 years now, the Americans send their customs and immigration men across to Toronto. to work tne night trains to Chicago. Thus, instead of being wakened at the border around 3 ana., one gets cleared this side of Guelph junction, and with Morpheus on your side, you don't wake up till you see the sand dunes of Indiana and the smokestacks of Gary.
What do our minions do? Well if they still do what they have always done, they wake you about Galt or Brantford. cut short your sleep, root you out of your berth, and make you account for yourself. I say to the Messrs. Gibson and Crerar that this stuff is crude, old-fashioned and back-woodsy. I say that if. the Americans can give us decent service inside Canada on our own trains going into the States, there is no reason we can't do the same for our trains coming into Canada. To do our ministers justice, I don't think they know about this, but some of their staff do. There's room for some reform here a lot of room.
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So the CP.R. sang Its sweet lullaby. Then while I slumbered on, the steam engine cut off at Windsor, the electric tied on, and took us through the tunnel to Detroit. Here another steam engine of the 5300 class grabbed us, and whisked our train toward Chicago, and all of this happened in my sleep. When I woke, there were the dunes of Lake Michigan, there was Gary. But we were now on the North Shore Limited. I had breakfast vis a vis a man who wanted, some whiskey to pick him up after a bad night, and his face emulated the Knight of the Rueful Countenance when he was told the bar was closed.