Walking in the footsteps of our forefathers

BARRY’S BAY – Imagine the sounds of a train making its way into the station, voices filling the space around you, people waving as those they love climb aboard before it departs on one of its many adventures.

This all occurred in 1895, on trains that came and went through Barry’s Bay each and every day, with familiar faces working at the station, and family members making their way to one of the many destinations the train station in Barry’s Bay had to offer.
Yvonne Brunke (née Dupuis), Anna May White (née Dupuis), and Lois Crosby (née Dupuis) all remember it well. Their father coming home from work at the railway, the trips they used to take to Ottawa as a family, and the many hours spent watching the small towns fly past their windows. The Dupuis girls’ memories are filled with the blowing of a whistle and the chug of an engine.
“One of my favourite memories was going on the train to Ottawa,” Brunke said. Remembering how her father used to receive free tickets because he worked on the railway most of his life.
“We just loved going by train,” Brunke continued.
Two of the three sisters made it out to the unveiling of the plaque, and both wore a necklace with a photo of the three of them on the train.
Brunke and White are currently living in Ottawa, while their sister Crosby lives in Florida.
It was no surprise that these women were approached by David Kelley, a man who had a vision of a heritage walk; somewhere people could venture the streets and historical places, finding themselves stumbling upon a plaque filled with tidbits of information on the place they were currently standing.
Kelley of course did not pull it all together all on his own. With the help of Anya Blake, and Theresa Prince, they created the idea of the Barry’s Bay Heritage Walk, with plaques posted throughout the numerous historical sights.
So far 10 plaques have been hammered into the ground, and with 20 more to go, they are in it for the long run.
Of course, if you really think about Barry’s Bay, every home and business has its own piece of history, and according to Kelley there are at least a total of 65 historical sights in the area, and he wants to eventually acknowledge them all.
The unveiling of three plaques occurred on October 18, with one on the railway with the Dupuis family present, another on the water tower, and finally on the corundum sheds.
“It’s a walking history book in a way,” Mayor David Shulist said.
According to the information on the plaque, the water tower we have here in Barry’s Bay, is Ontario’s last standing wooden railway water tower. It was built in 1894, just as construction of the railway was underway. It was originally in a different location, but was moved to the place it now stands.
Shulist made an appearance at the unveiling and said that we need to acknowledge Barry’s Bay for keeping such historical items in its community.
“This is why we can tell the story here,” Shulist said.
The corundum sheds were used to store corundum, a paste-like substance used to polish and shine steel.
The corundum was brought to the area by the Mayflower, which was then carried by horse and buggy to the station. After the cargo trains arrived it would be placed on the train, and eventually sent to Germany, which was put to a halt in 1914 during the war.

Story continues in the October 24, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.