A very sad day for Northern Ontario …….. Ontario Northland’s last run!!!!

Posted: September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s rather poetic that the guy, Dalton McGuinty who shut down the Ontario Northland Railway which ran it’s last trip today, is in Ottawa trying to keep his job by being supported by the low life Rural hating MPP’s that helped shut down this 110 year old railway system that has been the “backbone” of travel for rural Northern Ontario.

Rick Bartolucci MPP Sudbury was the one who carried out McGuinty’s demand to shut this rail system down even though he promised he would never do that when he was trying to garner votes in the area. Advice for Bartolluci?……………….don’t try running again for this seat in the next election, your political career in this area is over!

Sad days for Ontario and unfortunately this will not be the last story one will read about how life in Rural Ontario is being snuffed out by this Gang of idiots!

Read the heartfelt story below and teach your children that things like this actually did exist at one time in this once great Province. Thank Dalton for it’s end!

Ontario’s Northlander train makes its final run

Published on Friday September 28, 2012 Image

By Jennifer Wells Feature Writer 

Train engineer Don Warren works the controls of the Ontario Northander as it makes its daily run from Toronto to Cochrane, Ont. The run is no more as of Sept. 29.

The Ontario Northland is going mighty fast for a funeral barge, 65 mph past ribbons of sumacs that are coming on vermillion, that eye-blasting, keening, it’s-almost-Thanksgiving Ontario scenery.

Conductor Brian Irwin isn’t studying the sumacs. No.

The railroad lifer is in thought, formulating a message that will sum up his views of the decision by the McGuinty government to divest itself of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, including the shutting down of the Northlander, erasing, oh, 110 years of history as of Friday. Poof.

So there’s Irwin, swaying to the thrumble of the train, and here’s his thought: “We’re kinda partial to a fence at the French River there.”

You see where he’s going. Us versus them. When you’re taking one of your last runs, might as well unload on the sorry South-North relationship in this province. The betrayal. Words do not suffice.

“It is personal — this whole thing is personal,” he says. “We’ve never had a friend at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Why there is such a hate on for the ONR is beyond me. Why the hell are we under Northern Development and Mines anyway? We’re a transportation company!”

We’re on the Tuesday run, charging north to Cochrane, past the postcard prettiness of the train stations at Temagami and Cobalt, recalling the boom days of silver mining and the too-often-forgotten truth that the resources of the north built the paper corridor we know as Bay Street.

Says Irwin plainly: “They want this train off and they don’t give a s—t.”

Lots of people do. Give a s—, that is. Frank Sprenger is one, and it takes a moment to register the fact that having heard the news of the Northlander’s planned demise, Sprenger travelled from his home town of Kerken, Germany, to ride this rail.

Sprenger had been sitting by himself in the café car until a chatty group descended, colonizing as train travellers do, instant camaraderie, ordering up every can of Budweiser in the place until the Bud ran dry and the clatter of red and white cans was swept from the table causing Sprenger to remark, smiling his small smile, that he would love to buy everyone a “real” beer, meaning a German beer. There is no real beer. But there is a stock of Canadian. Excellent!

Leaning into the window of what we will now call the bar car, Sprenger unloads his encyclopedic knowledge of trains, his admiration for the scenery in the Mississippi Delta, his remembrances of a Kodachromatic early morning trip westbound out of Denver or his third-class trans-Siberian adventure aboard BAM, the Russian Baikal-Amur Mainline. You can see a great deal from a train. He wonders: how do you pronounce Kapuskasing?

“I try to finish as many of the railway lines that are possible,” Sprenger says, meaning that when a line is being shut, he gets on it. Don Kennedy sidles up for a chat, sliding across the Naugahyde banquette, and the talk turns political, to the agreed view that for passenger rail to work, governments must subsidize. “It’s an attitude,” Sprenger says. “In North America, the attitude is, trains don’t count.” In most Western European countries, by contrast, “They’re trying to get people off the roads.”

Don Kennedy, with his sterling silver lariat and cowboy boots and that steer’s head for a belt buckle — Kennedy runs about 100 head of beef cattle on Arran Lake — fills Sprenger in on the future, meaning what the government calls “enhanced” bus service. “But the thing is, I simply wouldn’t come,” says the train buff, sounding almost hurt by the suggestion that he would consider taking a bus, for God’s sake.

No one on the train likes the word “buff.” Nor does Sprenger see himself as a “track basher,” apparently a British term for notching up rail routes. A passenger can learn a lot on a train. A “pendrol” is a curvaceous clip that serves the same purpose as a rail spike. If you want to get rid of ground hogs, try bubble gum. Makes their stomachs blow up. Kennedy says only Dubble Bubble works. Hudson Bay: fresh water or salt? Is it true that different rail gauges slowed Hitler’s march into Russia?

Brian Irwin counts the passenger tickets from a table in the café/bar car. There are 91 passengers going north. “Nooooobody takes the train,” Irwin says, shaking his head, stretching the sarcasm for a long beat, laughing at the thought that enhanced bus service, as susceptible to highway-clogging as cars, is the government’s proffered solution.

Look, no one’s suggesting the numbers are great. “We understand the status quo isn’t working,” says Brian Kelly, spokesperson for the unionized workers, largely Steelworkers (conductors, engineers) and the CAW (service trades). In the fiscal year ended March 31, the ONTC, which includes rail freight, real estate (the inn at the Cochrane train station), the Ontera telecommunications system and the Cochrane to Moosonee Polar Bear Express, recorded a $10.8-million loss on revenues of $160 million, though an $18.5-million pension expense was incurred in the same year.

The government has pegged the per passenger subsidy on the Northlander at $400. Well who makes money in passenger rail?

“Well,” says Clive Dorland, a chartered accountant who lives and works in Cochrane, a precise figure in a grey pullover, his hands steepled before him, “the government subsidizes other things. This doesn’t seem rational.”

Dorland is taking one last trip, for nostalgia’s sake. His grandfather moved to Cochrane in the ’40s as a CA. His father, too, was an accountant. He says his great-grandfather was a car man for the ONR.

If you grew up in Cochrane and attended Queen’s University, it was, it’s easy to believe, a whole lot of fun to take the overnight train to Union Station and then, fresh as daylight, continue on to Kingston. People could go about their business in town, says Dorland — medical business, business business. Everyone agrees the night train was fantastic, till it was pulled from service more than a decade ago.

Let your mind head the other way, to the university student headed home to Cochrane for the holidays, not imprisoned on a bus, but free roaming. There was guitar-playing and singing and chatter and beer. “It means a lot,” Dorland says about train travel. “You get a connection to it.”

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