"Swan Song" for Famous Line (Barrys Bay), Published 2 March 1959
(2 March was a Monday, so the last train would have run on Saturday 28 February)
Take the Phoenix, add a strip tease, and you have the capsuled story of 69 years of passenger trains on the Ottawa-Barry's Bay passenger service, where the last full train sang its own swan song by diesel last Saturday.
Its a Phoenix all right, for just as that remarkable bird rose, new born from its own ashes, so does a gleaming, new rail dies! car emerge from three, dirty, dingy, dusty old Canadian National coaches, to run from Barry's Bay to Ottawa and return. `
It's a strip tease all right, too. The Canadian Natioual Railways, the wholesale stripper In this case, has stripped off miles of track in the west end, in Algonquin Park, and finally, west of Whitney.
Gone are the plush Pullmans of yesteryear, the svelte parlor cars. those New York connections, and Buffalo specials.
Stripped off two years ago from passenger service was the Pembroke branch. They have not bothered to clean off the tracks from Golden Lake this winter.
Where once there was a train a full 263 miles to Depot Harbor, now there is none. While six trains once were serving the Opeongo line, now only one solitary Budd car handles all the business.
As CNR Diesel No. 1302 growled her way swiftly through mounds of snow, last Saturday, one saw a changing vista of abandoned stations, broken panes, snowed-in outhouses, and forlorn station platforms. Meanwhile, the engine trumpeted her own raucous swan song.
There were not even passengers down at the depot the see the last run.
Train No. 89 paused at Carp, rounded the bend at Golden Lake, then hit the hill for Wilno just beyond Golden Lake. The three-car passenger crawled across the 1000-foot altitude mark, then pushed on to the "Y" at Barry's Bay.
Here No. 89, the same train, suddenly became No. 90. Riding the cab eastbound, engineer Jack Culhane of Ottawa recalled that when he worked on this train 40 years ago, he was the youngest fireman on the line. Now, he sighed, be was the oldest engineer. With him was Fireman George Carrie of Ottawa, who gets "bumped" by the Budd car.
Conductor Albert Seguin, Gatineau, reported 35 passengers westbound and 30 east bound. A mother got on for a short run with her children, then returned to her home station
Ghosts of old time high wheelers hustling through South March crossed one's mind as the throaty diesel ate up the miles. Fond memories of John R. Booth, of the big shots of the old Grand Trunk were conjured up, and in the middle of this day dreaming, was the Union Station.
G. T. R. Gunn, the CNR superintendent, was there to greet the last train. It was more like a wake.
On Sunday, the service had been transformed. The new rail diesel car, which will run to Ottawa in the mornings, arriving by 8.30, and return to Barry's Bay in the evening, reverses the schedule formerly followed by the train.