trainspotting (blog)

Trackside truancy

CN train No. 154 calls at Kitchener, Ont., on a snowy afternoon in November 1970.

The rules at St. Jerome's (the downtown Kitchener high school I attended between 1969 and 1973) were clear: students were not permitted to leave school property during school hours. Period. However, the CN station was just two-and-a-half tantalizing blocks from the storied institution of learning, a circumstance that turned my friend Peter and me into scofflaws from the very day of our enrolment. Almost daily, at lunch, during spares, and whenever else opportunity knocked, we'd make a dash for the station.

Attending the mid-afternoon station stop of Sarnia-Toronto train 154 was a primary cause of such trackside truancy. Don't tell Fr. Theis, but that's just what's going on here, as FPA4 6760 brings No. 154 into town on a snowy afternoon in November 1970. Peter is talking with one of the Sarnia-based engineers who befriended us; Stan the baggageman has the old Mercury tractor and cart positioned for the ritual exchange of baggage and express. Further back, conductor Mel Humble and his trainman are boarding passengers eager to trade the cold for the steam-heated comfort of streamlined CC&F coaches. "Toronto to your right. Watch the snow, don't fall and break your watch, Jimmy."

greg mcdonnellComment