VIP's Ride Gas-Lighted Coaches On The T&NVR, Published 12 June 1953This column is by way of explaining why it has taken me so long to ride the Thurso and Nation Valley Railway. It does seem absurd that I have ridden far more remote railways first. Once for instance, I played hookey from the United Nations in San Francisco to travel on the Northwestern Pacific. On another occasion I dropped off in Mobile to "do" the Alabama Tennessee and Northern. Again, there was that rainy day in Roanoke when I got drenched riding the Virginian. Thus I rode this far mileage long before I got round to travelling on the T&NVR, which is practically in Ottawa's backyard.
* * *
How I came to be on the Thurso and Nation Valley Railway is in itself an item. I was driving down to the Seigniory Club, all in the line of duty, with Scott Murray. Mr. Murray said he managed a departmental Store but I did not catch the name of it. We had with us a helpless guest - Robert H. Ross, of the Washington Board of Trade. Mr. Ross had foresaken his job of selling insurance with Ross and Groves Agency at 711-14th Street N.W., Washington, long enough to take in the Coronation delights of Ottawa.
I suggested to Scott Murray that we detour into the head office of the railway which also happens to be the head office of the Singer Sewing Machine Co. We were warmly greeted at the door by P. B. Bourget, the manager, and promised a locomotive on our return.
* * *
Just as precisely at 4 p.m. we rolled up to the front door of the Thurso and Nation Valley office, a locomotive rolled up too. from the opposite direction.
Mr. Murray, an old rail fan at heart, with the somewhat confused but apparently pleased Mr. Ross, climbed into the six spot on the T and NVR. Off we were, down the tracks of the railway, up around to the back door of the property, and passed a switch where they had to move a hand car to let us go by. On, on, we sped, with Engineer Joe Lalonde at the wheel, and R. J. Macintosh, mill foreman as our guide.
At our specific invitation he stopped the engine, the 25-ton power "Six Spot" at the mill. These days all mills are the same to me, after seeing those west coast operations under the direction of that old Elgin Street alumnus, Paul Emerson Cooper, who Is now president of Pacific Mills, Vancouver.
Back on No. 6 I learned that It was one of four engines owned by the company. There are two larger types and one 70-ton operation which is their biggest. They also own a few box cars and a brace of cabooses. When the VIP's arrive, there is available "The Twenty-Seven" a private car which has berths, eating facilities and the luxuries of relaxation all rolled Into one private car. Rail antiquarians would relish this tor it is gas lighted and its other facilities are of a corresponding era.
The line started off from Thurso, about 1925 and extended a few miles north into the company forest limits. The Singer people ultimately went on through St. Andre Avelin, Ripon, Cheneville and after a pause, finally pushed through to within 16 miles of Nominingue. Altogether the railway has the rather substantial total of 70 miles of line.
Scott Murray had his first ride in a diesel, Mr. Ross found a common friend through President Bourget of the Railway, and your old Geography Teacher rode his 155th railway. It was a worthwhile day.