Riding the Train: Local History

Following is a story written through the eyes of a young boy who took the train most summers to his grandparents’ farm near Wilno. The train does not run anymore. The sights and sounds of the engines are no more. When J.R. Booth built the historic Ottawa, Arnprior & Parry Sound (OA&PS) Railway through the valley, little did he realize the pleasure and excitement he would provide many who rode the train. Each summer I waited with high anticipation for the train ride that would take me part way to my grandparents’ farm north of Wilno. Added to the excitement and curiosity could be a lucky day with a visit to the engine car; better still a ride seated next to the engineer. The date is the mid 1950s. I make my way to the Barry’s Bay train station located on main street. I pay the fare, board the eastbound 6:47 a.m. mixed freight and passenger train, and take my seat in 2nd class, my head barely visible above the straight back leather seats cushioned with horsehair. The conductor shouts, “All aboard,” and signals the engineer to proceed. The engineer gives two short whistles as a warning that the train is about to leave the station. If the train is going to back up, he uses three blasts of the whistle. In the early days, the engine would first fill up with water from the wooden water tower. As we depart the station, the locomotive begins to clatter and chug slowly as we head east. It doesn’t take long to adjust to the movement. Eastbound Trains have absolute right of track over trains of the same class running in the opposite direction. For more pick up a copy of the March 28, paper.