Hush-Hush Private Railway Cars Are Built For Work, Not Pleasure, Published 25 August 1954.Few subjects have been more kept under wraps than private railway cars particularly - government private cars. Now, under the enlightened regime of the new Transport Minister, Hon. George Marler, and up-and-coming deputy John Baldwin, it has been made possible to get pictures and details of the federal government's small fleet of private cars.
Austere 40-year-old Observation Living Room
For Work Not Play
First of all, most if not all of the private cars are about 40 years old. Second, they . are mainly Canadian National cast-offs. Again, they are furnished for work and not play.
Until fairly recently, Transport was terrified about any publicity and they stalled for a couple of years on photographs. They were afraid of criticism of the use of private cars. This seemed absurd. The Conservatives never declined to use such cars when they were In power. Nor have either the CCF or the Social Credit said they would not use them if and when in power.
There are not many private cars only six are under the jurisdiction of the government. They are the Governor-General's private cars of which there are two. The Board of Transport Commissioners have one the Acadia. Then No. 104 belongs to the Minister of Transport, while the Minister of National Defence has the say with No. 102. Add No. 101 - the spare and you have the whole fleet.
In charge of No. 104 is Fred Tomlinson, 181 Granton Avenue, City View. He has been 17 years with the private cars and was 11 years with the Canadian National before that. More than once he worked for Sir Henry Thornton when that greatest of all Canadian National presidents was alive.
Car 104 has had a somewhat checkered if not battered career. When S. J. Hungerford became president of the CNR after Thornton's regime, he abandoned 104 for something better. Thus 104 was passed along to the then Transport Minister, Hon. C. D. Howe. He used it till the war. Then 104 was handed down in turn to the late P. J. A. Cardin, and Hon. J. E. Michaud.
Hon. Lionel Chevrfer had it nine years, the longest time any minister ever used old tried and true No. 104.
It is not a particularly exciting car, and rather runs to the dull side. It has a small lounge in the observation end and this little rectangle will hardly seat more than six in comfort.
The bedrooms are slightly different. Hon. Mr. Marler, like his predecessors, sleeps on something more like a bed : than a berth. He sleeps across the train as one does in bedrooms rather than the length of the train as one does in berths.
One slight concession to pomp is the silk covered quilt on the minister's bed. There are no other luxuries. Indeed the private car lacks the new gadgets and comfort that the ordinary passenger gets on the Ottawa-Toronto run.
The secretary's room is on the gloomy side but if is large enough to hold a typewriter and it is stocked with a 1954 Parliamentary Guide and some dreary government releases, including the annual report of the Department of Transport
Let us consider No. 102. The 102 had air conditioning while No. 100 had no such new-fangled device. So for some years No. 102 was the Prime Minister's car. But Prime Minister Mackenzie King in the early days found that the AC contributed to his arthritis, so he swapped No. 102 for No. 100. Among its old fashioned delights was the fact that it had no air conditioning.
When Hon. R. B. Bennett got hold of No. 100 he was not too pleased with it. Sir Henry Thornton obligingly spent a good deal of money on No. 100 for the whims of the luxury loving Conservative Prime Minister. It did Thornton no good, for he was fired within a year.
Then Bennett changed the number of his car and named it after his sister, Mildred. So as Mildred it ran during the Tory regime of Bennett from 1930 to 1935.
Mr. Bennett with his congenial dislike of the Canadian National and his affection for the Canadian Pacific, often ordered his dark green car attached to the all red Canadian Pacific This, of course, was all changed later on.
When Prime Minister King came back to power, off went the label Mildred and the car reverted to its dull label. No. 100. But the built-in luxury stayed. King did not fight Bennett's taste in cosiness.
Meanwhile No. 102 became the National Defence car. It once figured in a political campaign. Gen. A. G. L. McNaughton, when Minister of National Defence, was very sensitive to political criticism and the Tories knew about it. As a man running a war, he made the 102 his private office. So when he was campaigning in North Grey he had his car spotted at the station in Owen Sound, in the heart of the campaign. Ross Brown, then public relations official lor the Conservative party, sensed this and started to play up the private car. General McNaugnton, susceptible to this kind of political campaigning, then had the car moved to the other end of the riding, at Meaford. But in a matter of hours, the campaign was renewed. In due course the Tory candidate, Gar Case, won the election and later on, General McNaughton got out of politics altogether.
The Acadia, the private car of the Board of Transport Commissioners is anything but roomy when all the commissioners and their secretaries squeee into the old car. More spacious, it is true, than Marler's No. 104, it still is no French Embassy. It has the traditional space at the end beside the observation side, it has the big dining room table, and the rest is mainly sleeping ac-commodation.
The Prime Minister;s car is about the same. All private cars have a sort of living room at the observation end, then up near the head end is a dining room with built in buffet. Beside the dining room is a small but efficiently planned kitchen.
The Prime Minister's car has carried many distinguished guests. So have the other cars for that matter. Churchill's staff travelled to and from Quebec once in 104.
Used By Royalty
Viscount Alexander used No. 104 as his car when the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth were here in 1951.
Another time a Governor-General was put out of his car when Lord Tweedsmuir had to give up his cars for the King and Queen in 1939. The King and Queen also made some changes in their rolling home, and some of these were perpetuated in the cars.
For a while these cars were painted a royal purple, but now they have reverted to the stock CNR colors of railway green.
As for car 101, it's a spare. They keep it on hand for any potentate who rates a private car.
The private cars like ancient turtles drowse away through the years, in the quiet backwaters of the railway yards back of the Union Station. Already over 40 years old, which is the equivalent of a hundred years in human life, there is more of this world behind them than ahead of them.
These then are the dull old cars that the Opposition gets excited about, these are the ancient crates that stir up government debate. They don't look worth it