Passengers reminisce with railway memories
HUNTSVILLE – More than 80 passengers put their memories of the Ontario Northland passenger train on paper as they rode from Muskoka to South River and back on Sept. 17.
The Ontario Northland passenger rail service, the Northlander, will end Sept. 28.
The nostalgic ride brought thoughts of the Northlander to mind and while most shared their rail stories, still more spoke about the need to preserve rail travel in the region.
Riders were asked to write an explanation of why they were on the train that day and more than 60 submitted their comments to the Huntsville Train Station Society. This is what some had to say:
“If a train ride wasn’t on my bucket list, I figured it definitely should be, and was going on this ride. When I was 7, my family travelled from Alberta to Chatham, Ont., and it must have been a lot of fun or I wouldn’t be so anxious to go on this ride. It’s been a great day and I really would like to see train service for the north continued – the people do really need it.”
“Back in 1933 Edison Broadbent fired the steam boiler up in Capreol. He left the railroad to come to Huntsville to get married. There, he raised two girls and seven boys, most have resided here in Huntsville ever since. We were married in Huntsville 35 years ago and raised five children.”
Harvey and June Broadbent
“My husband worked for CN for over 30 years, so the railway has been a big part of my life. We spent a lot of our time in Northern Ontario, Capreol and Homepayne, so used the train a lot. I still have a ‘long service’ pass. It does not work on this line. I enjoyed today’s ride!”
“I love to travel by train when ever I can. My father Ron Austin Worked for the railway, which began my love of rail. Today is a joy to make a special trip with family to enjoy a service we seem doomed to lose due to provincial government short sightedness and lobbying. Rail is green transportation that we need more of, not less. The history of rail, steam ships and resorts is long in the area and with good marketing could return to a new tourism format. A commuter train would also be a great asset. From the train, you see so much more and get the sense of vastness and beauty of our province that rail played a big role to develop … you make new friends, too. The whole north is not southern Ontario’s garbage dump or source of raw material to exploit; it’s where people choose to live and work. The north deserves the best … Muskoka to Moosanee to Atikokan to Kenora.”
“I use the train to visit my son in Kirkland Lake. I go at least two trips a year and will miss the train because travelling in the winter on the roads is not safe. I will really miss the train.”
“My dad was a railway man. As a child I rode the train often. As a graduation gift my dad gave me a trip across Canada on the train. Today I am introducing my five-year-old friend to the joy of train riding. It is such a fun and relaxing way to travel with children.”
“I remember when you could board the train in Huntsville on a Saturday morning, arrive in Toronto when the stores opened, spend the day and leave Toronto in the evening to arrive back home by 9 p.m. Why can’t we still do this? I’m here to have a final ride on the ONR. As a child, I lived in Timmins, and remember the big steam locomotives and the long ride to Toronto on the ONR.”
“My father, who was born in 1900, worked for CN for years and was a total train buff. He took myself and my siblings on many train trips in our youth. I wanted to experience this historic event.”
John Sullivan, 92
Designed the Ontario Northland logo
–Letters submitted by
the Huntsville Train Station Society