'Cross Town CNR Ottawa - Hawkesbury Line, Published 17 November 1959They are trying to get rid of a railway that shouldn't have been built anyway. Word comes from Hawkesbury that the CNR is trying to abandon the Hawkesbury-Montreal branch.
I was among those who went down to Hurdman's Road in November, 1909, to meet the first Canadian Northern Railway from Quebec. It came via Joliette and was two hours late when it arrived at the corner of Mann Avenue and Hurdman Road. The long abandoned station can still be seen from the bus on Hurdman, where it is now the office of a roofing firm.
So finally, behind double-header 242 and 180, the new Canadian Northern train crept in for its Ottawa debut. I feel bit old when I recall that 50 long years have passed since that time.
Really, Ottawa did not need that railway at all. Already, there were three good railways between Montreal and Ottawa. The CPR North Shore via Papineauville and Hull, the Grand Trunk via Glen Robertson, and the CPR short line via Vankleek Hill, rendered the Hawkesbury-Rockland sector as superfluous.
L'Orignal, county town for Prescott and Russell, and an old center, did not however have a railway till the Canadian Northern got there. Nor did Rockland nor Hawkesbury know the sight of a parlor car or diner, till the Canadian Northern put on their de luxe daily.
Alas, the Hawkesbury-Ottawa section did not pay, and it was reduced to a gasoline-electric car as early as 1930. The depression gave it the coup de grace.
An amusing feature, reminiscent of Potemkin and how he fooled his girl friend, Queen Catherine. You will remember that Potemkin foiled Her Majesty in her tour across Russia by sending carpenters and actors ahead of her, who built fake villages. Then of course, after the queen had passed the village and had gone to sleep further on, the actors and carpenters dismantled these Potemkin villages, sneaked past during the night, and had another village up ahead ready by morning.
Anyway, when the Board of Transport Commissioners had just about decided to close the Hawkesbury - Ottawa division, they went through it, viewing the stations from the observation platform of their private car.
But the CNR station agents, sensing they would lose their jobs or at least get "bumped", made a deal with the local farmers and merchants. The CNR agents persuaded at least one man in each town to order a car. Then, on the afternoon the grapevine said was the day the Commissioner's special was riding the line, the boys got busy.
You never saw so many bales of hay, bags of potatoes coming on and off the box cars. It was all play acting, of course, and the cars were sent away empty next morning.
The trick, however, worked, and the Board of Transport Commissioners appeared bamboozled. But not for long. The line was officially abandoned next year, and next time I was motoring on Highway 17 around Plantagenet somewhere around 1939 steel workers wen busy demolishing the bridge across the Nation River.
Now, 20 years later, the rest of the line is to go. Thus ends a railway line, whose troubled beginnings I watched, 50 long years ago.