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Elderhostel Rail Trip from Montreal to Vancouver

Ken McKenzie

Ken Mackenzie on Elderhostel rail trip from Montreal to Vancouver in 1996, with emphasis on history of the CN System.

Accession Number Interviewer SSI Historical Society Address
Date April 8, 1997 Location Central Hall
Media tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 133 Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:02
I've been told to provide, as I said, academic type lectures and I laid it on a bit too heavily. So I know we I was only just dissuaded from giving them an end, of course examination. But I did. And we so they were able to enjoy Vancouver when we got there. But I personally also have an agenda when I talk about history. And when I talk or talk about my historical research, and you have, I suppose I've seen some examples of that in the course of my, my stint with the society here. And certainly, I hope you have, indeed, in the first place. You study history, I think, because it is simply history. And interesting. I find history interesting. And so that's the first thing you try to impart to your audience. Secondly, in this day and age, it must also be seen to have some sort of relevance. And I think we're putting the relevance is there when we talk about the plaques that are going up. And we talked about raising the roof like mine Hall, and even the letter we unpredictably the letter we got from Gaza, saving the brown house, those sorts of things are bringing the history into the relevance and into the current events of what's going on in the neighborhood. I will not go so far to say that humanity will avoid the mistakes of the past, if they are thoroughly grounded and instructed in the fight went on before. That sort of Utopia has long since gone, I would suggest, but I will say that a thorough knowledge of history should help people to extricate themselves from their particular messes after they have made them at least we can tell them how we get out of those messes in the past, if people will just listen and understand history. And in my study is perhaps the best example of this sort of thing. Learning from the past, trying to correct mistakes, for what we've done isn't the case, for example of Germany after World War One in Germany after World War Two. Germany after World War One was treated in such a fashion that it made World War Two, almost none of inevitable. In fact, the argument is that the two wars were continuous. Just a pause in between us the forces regrouped. After World War Two we approach Germany and the conquered nations a little differently. The result is, is as we see it now, the unfortunate thing is, by the time Russia or Soviet Russia got around to looking at history and looking at how the West did things, they seem to have taken the wrong examples to follow. But that's developing as we study now, as we as we move along now. So we're back to the enjoyment part, really, we never learned from history. But hopefully we can learn how to cope with the mistakes we do make. And I hope that the 19 paying members of the first elder hospital, Canadian railway dream tour got the same enjoyment from the lectures as I did, and giving. And it was two weeks, as I said, in Montreal, Toronto, and then on to Vancouver. We started out in Montreal to Chateau Versailles, an appropriate name. Given the little introduction, I just gave us the treatment of Germany after World War Two after World War One. The Chateau Versailles is a little bit more than the elder hospital group usually likes to stay in, more organized. We did the tour, mid October to the end of October. I normally elder Hospitallers like to stay and most inexpensive, I won't say cheap and expensive accommodation, which is usually hotel or sorry, it's usually University residents, things like that. Because the term was end they weren't able to do that. And most universities nowadays are have affiliations with downtown hotels. And that was the case in Montreal. So we stayed at the Chateau Versailles. And it was very, it was very good. And we spent three or four days in Montreal. I gave to about I think it was two lectures in Montreal. And we toured around the tours were almost all to do with transportation events and transportation history. So we went to the Canadian Railway Museum in Montreal. And we went to the Mount Stephen Club, which is the old fall of George Stevens. The other rail we go on the road at Pacific but, so that was enjoyable. And then in each place, Montreal and Toronto and Vancouver we had local speakers who are knowledgeable in various things. I'll I'll make a little bit of a mention about that in a second. The speeches the introduction to the whole tour is very good. The elder Hosmer hospital group has been through In this for a long, long time. And so you all get together and, and you have an evening meeting at the very beginning where each person injured or is supposed to speak and give their ideas of what it is they expect to get from the tour. So you get mad at each, you get an idea from each person as to what they expect to get out of the trip. And also those who are both administering the trip and talking or as I was, as a railway historian, what I hoped they learned in the course of the protocol, two weeks. And all of this went, went quite smoothly. My talks, which encompassed Canada's railway history from its start, in the Montreal area, to its culmination in the everyday system, that we see discharging the millions of tonnes of cargo at ports, such as Vancouver, are supplemented in each study by these local experts. And as I said, there are only a fundamental difference in the speakers. And it's interesting to, to look at what the speakers spoke about. In Montreal, we got yet another lecture on the on the French problem in called The French problem because it was given by an angle. If they happen to have an angle or Francophone give it it would, of course, being a English problem. But once again, we got back a rehash of the history history that we haven't learned from. When we moved on to Toronto, it was I don't know how many of you are here in Toronto. But it was more than navel gazing type thing, Toronto, the center of the universe and how beautiful it was. And it was, and we've toured some of the places there and we get out to the whole thing, that electric railway to see outside of Toronto. Spoiled a little bit big, the fact that we were there at the time of the one day of action in Toronto, and the strike or not, they weren't on strike. But the Unionists used to tell us their basis for their activities. But it all went very quietly. And we could have left there was several dozen cases of beer, because we're giving them out at the beginning of this process. And so that was Toronto, and Vancouver. We didn't have anybody talking about the city was almost as though he said, You're in Vancouver. Enjoy. We went on terrific tours, the best tours of the group, because from my point of view as a transportation story, we got out to to the United grand growers terminal to the container terminal downtown. And we got out to the callback. Now I don't know how many of you here have been to the callback, coldwater point Roberts. That's an incredible thing to see. And, and, and everybody had a bowl there. In fact, we walked them off their feet, their elder Hospitallers. Obviously, they don't demand but they certainly ask for a certain degree of activity on the part of those participating. And we did a couple of people over at who fun a little bit hard to going up and down in the green terminal, we went right down to the where they were unloading the green cars, and climbing over railroad tracks and so on. And some of them find that a little bit too strenuous. But so what it was is we almost went from the, from the old, ancient capital in Quebec, to Toronto, out to the pointy end of Canada, we're working was happening, where everything seemed to be where everything was working, and somebody was making money for change was Ray dressing, and it's a thing I pointed out to them at the end of the tour. Most of them there was 19 people there. And all but but two, I think were from within 100 miles of Toronto.

Unknown Speaker 8:49
So what did I talk about? I gave seven lectures. And these are called the McKenzie view of Canadian railway history. It was all in the McKenzie view or the Canadian National view. There we went by via rail, of course, via rail, and its transcontinental passenger service no runs almost entirely on x, or sorry on CNN track. I don't know if you know the situation very well. It's now a separate Corporation of its own. It's one of the big public relations disasters were Canadian National is that although both Canadian national TV circuit ran passenger trains in the good old days, and both got out of it, and the rail was made up as a separate chronic operation from both of those bodies. Everybody still identifies the area with cn cn cn is appalled by this, but there's nothing they can do about it. But the fact is, too It also runs on X obviously on track. We don't have their own tracking whether it has to depend on others tracks. And because I've been see an archivist and had a sale had a degree of loyalty to the company Uh, we've talked more of CNN. The fact is, of course, that CNN is 50 years older than CP covers country, then as now, historically as no better than the CP. And so has a good, interesting history. And so what we heard then we started off with was a very brief overview of the development of rails in Canada. And that terribly crumpled map on the on the on the wall there gives you an idea of the extent it's color coded, and it's impossible to see unless you're right up to it, but it gives you an idea of the extent of railroads in Canada, and the different different systems that were established. at national, its predecessor, of course, started as a portage, really simply linking groups of waterways. And because it was eastern Canada, as we all know, now and watching the news, freezes periodically. And so the real was more seasonal, didn't run 20 or 12 months of the year. First one, then was 1836, a Canadian National predecessor, and then gradually, the forecast trail was extended. Until 1850. In the ground, Trump really started to build Eastern West, heading to link Toronto and Montreal, and eventually, with Chicago in the US, Midwest. Grand Frank has always was historically considered as an American relic. And in fact, there were absentee landlords, proprietors, virtually all European, not all British but all European shareholders. And their interest was in linking the central part of North America by which they meant in those days United States with a nice report and on the Atlantic seaboard. The Grand Trunk then was the first real system for for, for railways in Canada, and they started making 50. The next system that we talked about, in this general overview was the Intercolonial Railway of Canada. The Intercolonial Railway is the railway those of you who know it, most from the Maritimes will realize that that's what provided the Maritimes and particularly Nova Scotia with the rail link to central Canada. And it's not too well realized or understood that the Intercolonial Railway was even more important and significant to Nova Scotia than was the Canadian Pacific to the west. And in fact, because the new colonial rule we actually is as mentioned and required in the British North America Act. The Intercolonial Railway was private was started privately ended up being a public real with an AK 76 was complete all the way from, from Montreal, just outside Montreal, or Quebec City across the river back city into Halifax. Eventually, it was extended slightly west along the south shore was Lawrence to Victoria Bridge, which crosses the first rail, our bridge crossing office in Lawrence, and onto the Island of Montreal. Eventually, as the rail as this really achieved, took over other railways, other public railways in the maritime provinces and Quebec, it became known as the Canadian Government Railways. That's the second system to form part of CN. The third system is the Western system. A truly Western really Granger railroad was called sometimes Canadian Northern Railway. And another map I have up here it shows the Canadian Northern Railway stood in 1906. Canadian Northern Railway was the origin of the CN initials. And there's an apocryphal story that came from that when the three rail three systems were being merged. And they didn't are the Grand Trunk and Canadian government. Of course, under public ownership, the government had to decide which really was going to work well which name was going to stick. And they decided that it was going to be neither would stick that it would be called Acadia National Railway. And there were many reasons given them parliament for this. And most of them, were leaning towards the national aspect of it as nation binding. And in fact, one of the things I better make clear right away and I made clear to the elder Hotspurs is that I firmly believe in the National Building aspects of our railways including agreements. So I know in Parliament that's what was argued about 1918 and there was an exchange between an opposition member and the government saying that no, it wasn't event didn't have any other significance and that they simply didn't want to change the initials cn are a varanda boxcars with Acadian Northern Railway. So you can take whichever reason you like, but by 1923 Canada had the Canadian National Railway system encompassing the three original predecessors. In the course of all this, of course, we had an interloper, Canadian Pacific. And we discussed the opting of overbuilding, the Canadians, from Montreal, all the way across to Vancouver, Portland, and then Vancouver. That was the basis of my first talk in Montreal. On the second talk, we discussed the historiography of, of really history in Canada. historiography is the actual study of the study of history, I guess, is the best way of putting it. Last week or month, we heard fascinating talk on the native problems in this area. And those of us who those of us who have studied this area, and those of us who have been students of history, listen to that from great, great interest. Because first of all, there were things that we heard and didn't tell you about, we've read or heard before. And there are also claims made the eyes of historian who don't fully understand or know that the history of around here would have to go be able to go myself to check in the sources of the first one huge. This is a sort of thing that that I mean by historiography. And I suppose another way of looking at it is there was a very important case in Ontario 15 or 20 years ago, in which it has to do with the separate schools in Ontario, whether the Roman Catholics have a right to a separate school or not both. So it went to it went to trial, and both sides of the of the of the question, engaged, expert help from the historical community. And both of them came up with what they felt was cast iron proof of their case, depending on the history. So history depends on who writes it, and the interpretation caught on it of what's written on those of you who are readers of history. So what I did then was to should point out the fact that, that the facts in history, by and large, can be proved, certainly any history from the, from the time of Canada on its interpretation of those facts, but it's so controversial. And also one of the things that makes history interesting, and sometimes even even controversial. So those are the sorts of things. And I also, of course, outlined the various books that are available because there's lots of books on the topic. And putting back on my cn cat, I will say I pointed out that the Canadian national histories are far fewer than Canadian Pacific histories. For some reason, the Canadian Pacific has taken the Banner as the national dream. And the ties of buying are the length of time. But as I said earlier, Canadian National there could be years before CNN, and RCEP. And in fact links that country better than CP. CP never really got any further than St. John, New Brunswick, except for the pickup of the Dominion Atlantic earlier.

Unknown Speaker 18:20
Cn storms into Halifax that was lectures one and two. And from there on, I just I looked at at various points as we traveled we, by this time, I didn't do any lectures in Toronto, I left after Torontonians. And then we boarded the train, and virail went back to the good old days, there's no other way of putting it, we had a marvelous trip. And the title for the talk, the silver journeys in the play, of course, both on the elder hosters and on this little logbook, but I don't know if anybody would have traveled the rail recently, and unloaded. I don't even know if this is a general distribution, but this is on all our seats and it's called silver and blue and chanting horizons via rails log to Western Canada. And you can follow your your trip on the train from this book from Toronto into Vancouver. And so, what I did then was to was as we came to various major parts, like Northern Ontario, and so on, I was able to give them the history of either the building or the or whatever it was the rail was carrying, as they went headed west. In Northern Ontario, we talked about opening up the northern part of Ontario for mining and bring out ores and again I was able to find out Canadian National, greater and clearly national and public enterprise all because was coming in northern Ontario and rail was like that. We're we're public enterprises and they were the ones who extended the frontier north and Ontario. And of course, we can't forget the Hudson's Bay railway, which was a Canadian national enterprise, which Canadian national home has just sold for Americans. And when we came to the prairies and we spent the whole time looking at the carriage of grain to the carriage of grain is perhaps the single most significant thing that our railways have carried. Everything else revolves around grain. And, and this is one of the problems and we discussed the crow rate, that infamous rate that was foisted on all railways in Canada again, by the CPR in order to get concessions on money and extending its own mining, mining railways in Alberta, and northeast Surrey south eastern BC. And, and the rest of the road was in Canada that stuck with that as the crow rate in which the railways had to carry grain at less than compensatory rates. Now, the question of course, came down to for how long are they not compensatory, and so on so forth. And and it would appear that probably they did get compensations adequate compensation until sometime after World War Two. But in recent years, they didn't. And so in recent years, you started to see the whole grain Transportation and Infrastructure start to suffer. And I don't know to what extent we see the problems with the grain system, as we speak. No, we're given the evidence of Saltspring with the green chips, the whole pipeline is plugged right up right up to Saltspring. Island, the ship ships can get loaded quickly. A lot of that, historically, was because the railroads were not getting compensated full compensation for for carrying grain. And so they skimped and didn't pay enough attention to the last part of their infrastructure. And then of course, allied with grain is coal, sulfur, and lumber. So on the seat on the on the prairie horseman, there's not much else to talk about, as you cross the prairies, we talked about rain and the crow rate and, and the importance and, and, and what happens when, when, when to help one company and a small section of, of BC, the implications that had right across the country right across the transportation network, and for so many decades. What happens when you tinker. At this time, too, we also talked about real we aid to civil power. And for those of us who were in the armed forces, it's a little hard sometimes to realize the importance of transportation and railways, and our aid to civil power both within and without Canada. And within Canada, there is evidence, there's discussion that perhaps the relay was used in Canada before was used anywhere else in the world to deal with insurrections. There's a possibility the railway was used in 1837 in the Lower Canada rebellions. Then, the railways were critically involved in the Crimean War. The British Railways were the action of the British railway entrepreneurs actually built railroads in the Crimean peninsula to help the British troops. The railway company that actually provided its own men and paid its own men were men taken from building the Victoria bridge on the Island of Montreal. And there are interesting stories, I suppose most of us know, at this stage, just how poorly the British Army operated during the Crimean War and the problems that had faced there's a very good pamphlet that I have available, which shows the people the railway contract was pico Grassi invents, and it showed the list of the suppliers that they sent out with their railway contractors, their railway navvies, the men who actually built the tracks the tracks done, and the list of accoutrements that they took with them, was infinitely better than the list of what the British grateful British government gave to the British soldier who was supposed to go suffer through Russian winters. The British soldiers were intense people and brassy built wooden houses for their men. And there's more than one idea and suggestion that if the British government had left the fighting the war to the railway Nabis, that was the Navy's next favorite, occupation fighting. The war would be over far sooner. So this is the sort of area and men from Canada who've been working on the Victoria bridge back to the Crimea at that time. Next to the Fenian rates, and this is perhaps the most glamorous part of Canadian real reproves Canadian real them involved in aid to the civil power within the country. And there There's terrific letters, stretching all the way from Quebec and Eastern Townships into Ontario, and into southwestern Ontario, of the rail weeping held up, because because the men were off as part of the railway battalion, I really Rifle Corps, and they spread right throughout the entire length of the frontier. And the railroad was used to rush the troops that as I said early on, and many cases and trips are real among themselves. And this was the origin of the railroad battalions of the railroads are very fond on prickly grind Trump leading up to the end of the Fenian rates after the American Revolution. Next, of course, is a very famous aspect of the CPR and the reality of rebellion. And how the second rail room rebellion, troops were rushed from eastern Canada, through through the periods not quite all the way by rail, but very close to it. And we're able to help put down the rail rebellion. These then, as I said, were the internal or the glamorous parts of railways aid to the civil power. The most important, of course, was during World War One, and particularly during World War Two. And to digress just a little bit, the CNN we are rewriting a history project. And that was to culminate in a history of Canaan national from 1933. For the press, one didn't really exist. And CNN had an employee newspaper. And so we we talked about this in the newspaper, and then posed various questions and made various claims or statements. And I had the had the goal at one stage, I thought I could get away with it, because I'm ex service animal. Said, actually, the people in Canada who stayed behind and grew the grain, and mined the ores, and sent them manufactured goods to Britain, and to Europe, did more to win World War Two, the people who sent overseas. Now I heard about that. And the repercussions are still there. But the fact of the matter is that in all around, it's a debatable point, certainly. But it's the hundreds of 1000s people who, who mobilized Canada's war effort on the civilian side that did more for the allies cause to win the war than did Regrettably, the men who went overseas and none of them went overseas.

Unknown Speaker 27:45
Many of them died. The railways came into their own during World War Two. And for the first time, Canadian National was able to make a profit on every aspect of operations. So it had been making operating profits for many years. Cn has always been saddled with enormous debts and the companies that he took over. These are things that are not particularly well understood. And they're very hard to explain, but one of the one and again to the rest a little bit. I have an old research that I've done, I'm talking to senior personnel at our at CNN, I have never yet found a dedicated of an enterprise to scratch them a little bit, and you'll find they're all in favor of private enterprise. There's one very, very active man is His career spanned 50 years with the Canadian National from about 1912 to about 1962. He has been in the public, public and private servers for the public service. And he always remained a private enterprise. But in 1930, in the 1930s, it was his task to convince the government and convince the public that the public enterprise was good.

Unknown Speaker 29:31
unusual name, and as soon as he found out, that was my name, I was home free, he would have given away the keys to the kingdom. We were related something but this dedicated private enterprise or then was able to attack CPR because of its of its mistakes, rather than defending cn as a public enterprise. But one of the things he wanted to look at was this whole issue of sciennes debt, the enormous debt that CNN has carried Right. And as almost, I get it free of it now, grateful government wrote it off, and it was privatized. But he pointed out and the big example or the real reason the United States revolution in the United States went through at least one, sometimes two, and sometimes even more bankruptcies. And of course, the bankruptcy, you wipe out the debts and you start all over again, bankrupt, real, we aren't like if they're vile, if they could be viable, aren't like the have the rails torn up. So your expensive infrastructure is there. And so you, you buy it up at a at a dirt sale or a garage sale, and you get it going again, that happened two or three times with most major American railways. It never did happen with Canadian National, its bondholders are always paid shareholders, different matters. And there was resentment in Britain right up until World War Two, the shareholders been hard done by when the Canadian government took over the over the railroad as we move into it, because very competent. But that's the sort of thing that start Pharaoh was talking about, and the problems that CNN face the capitalization, I've always been in depth. Those are the sorts of things that we discussed as we crossed mile after mile, the various and also the idea of railway intervention to civil power, and the assistance given by the rail business as country development and grading grain. Then we talked about drilling through the Rockies, and into Western Canada. And at this time we are used the book is called 1000 blunders. Some of UBC historians may know it, it's a fairly recent book on the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad, which was around Trump's effort to link up the eastern West. And of course, they use their imagination and didn't dip down to Vancouver going across to Prince Rupert, the author of this book is an academic professor to somewhere in BC. And to me, that book is a very good example of what I was talking about a little earlier, that you have to understand that even historians, even unbiased and trueblue historians can have agendas of our own. And we're writing books. And his agenda I don't agree with when he wrote this book. So we, we dissected this book, 1000 blunders, and saw from my point of view, where I thought these errors were, where he distorted things. His point, of course, was that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad was a blunder from start to finish. And perhaps the way it is at the moment with the brain, through Prince Rupert, you might be right. excerpted in necessita, after construction, that brought us down into into Vancouver. And the terrific tours that I told you about, we got into Vancouver, there was one lady from North Vancouver on the tour. And she, of course, was watching the weather forecasts as we crossed. And we all know what our weather's been like the last six months and so she was really worried. But we stayed in the grand green are the Best Western standards right for the silver moko. Both islanders know the Soviet superb location. And in Vancouver, and the weather couldn't have been more lower. So she she sighed, a sigh of relief, and we and we did these tours and beautiful weather. And then at the end of it all, I tried to bring together the whole story for them. The whole idea of my my approach, and I invited them all the way through, but the stories were biased, and I'm no different than others. And that tried to tie it together with my idea of the national dream. And the sorts of things that I hoped that they would I asked for them. At the end of it was that they weren't left with with a desire to try and fall I hoped I proposed more questions than I had answered. And I hope they left them with a desire to do a bit more reading. And also some ideas as to the infrastructure and the necessity and just the extent of the railway history of our country. And in that timeframe, I I told my hope they had come away with some ideas and to look a little bit further. And the first of these and I haven't mentioned this this afternoon. first of these was the fear of monopoly. We have so many choices in front of us at the moment in Canada. That is hard to imagine what this fear of monopoly did at the time that the railways were really being built. I did as the Grand Trunk took over another large system in southwestern Ontario called The Great Western Railway. And that was done between 1882 and 1884. The horror at the Grand Trunk take and you realize that's just before the CPR is an operation right across the country, it's hard for us to realize the horror with which that was greeted in central Canada, because these were phased out the rear facing with an emerging monopoly. And so in 1885, when the Canadian Pacific way, once again cap in hand to the government for for more money that were granted the money. But under this, the act itself said they would not be allowed to unite or amalgamate with the Grand Trunk Railway. So then all the way through, there's been this, this detestation and this concern with monopoly, and it's something we have to think about now. And it was one of the purposes behind the writing of the CNN history that I mentioned. Because we knew 10 years ago, that CNN was probably going to be privatized. And whether it was right or wrong is immaterial at the moment. But the fact is, we wanted the people who'd be making those sorts of decisions to know and have an idea in their own mind as to the reason CNN existed. The old idea of it being simply a group of a bankrupt rail was brought together to save the banks of central Canada, which is one, one argument simply doesn't hold true. And the underlying and the one uniting unifying theme throughout what I was taught, I talked to them was the Sir Robert Barton's idea of railroad building, and the railway and transportation infrastructure in Canada. We can't get into that today. But Borden Barden was very perceptive. And he was the one of course, who brought in a national railway. And he was aiming for a national transportation system. And of course, allied with the National Rail, we hit a national Merchant Marine, about which nobody knows very much at all these days. But there were 63 chips and service at one time. And he was determined that there would be a national system. That's the reason CNN came together. And that's the reasons we were determined to have this book. Well, we had the book out in time, whether the writing the politicians read it or not, is the one debatable question. So that was one of the fear of monopoly. Next, I wanted to bring up was the innate conservatism of the real minimum. And those of you who have been in the Armed Forces know that it's by and large, a conservative organization. Well, they have nothing on railways, when it comes to conservatism. And those are the sorts of things that I tried to bring in. And then to bring lead it up to the present time where railways are finally saying, are realizing that you don't go to a customer and say, I'm running a train tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock, from Toronto, to Vancouver, do you want to be honest, railways are finally going to the customers and saying, I can run your train, when would you like me to run it for you? And so they're finally coming into that part of the modern world. As Margaret's not here, I can tell you this the story, we run a bed and breakfast as most of you know. And some poor souls periodically will say, well, we don't really want much in the way of breakfast. Well, that's too bad, because they're going to eat Margaret's breakfast. But it's the sort of thing that the real reason a far larger scale has been hard pressed to come to terms with the customer directs when they run the rails and on all this sort of thing. That's the second thing then the conservatism of railways and bringing up and trying to bring them into modern times. Third thing I think I've covered sufficiently was a nationalism in my my flight to the master on this that without the railways and probably would not be accounted for. And I include both railways, not just the CN

Unknown Speaker 39:06
passenger versus freight the whole issue again of the rail and the fact that world cn CP ducked out of that and beautifully they get no complaints about the passenger rail service in Canada. Cn still gets it. The railways of course had been desperately not desperately but very determined badly trying to get out of the passenger had been trying to get out of passenger rail service from at least the 1930s and there's I've got this chapter and verse and the operative pool trains and, and so called Golden Carta, you know, things are Quebec City, Toronto, this other stuff. They've been trying to get out of that for that long whether they they actively did as been as the ECB has been accused of giving bad service to expedite the thing is something we can debate to the cows come home. Really is no Of course, and this is allied with a nationalism that and this again is we're, we're Margaret knockin discussions. She's a big advocate of national passenger rail. We actually used passenger rail services when they existed. And we're, I'm worried, reasonably priced. How many Canadians have traveled passenger rail in the last 30 years? The fact is that that railways are still national, but they're carrying freight. They're not carrying passengers. And the freight service is, to a degree was national. Until, of course, we've started to get into the last thing we talked about in the course of these two weeks, and that was public versus private ownership transportation network. This is a debate in which the decision at the moment has come down to private ownership. Cn is now a privatized company. And it admits in the last printed document that I've seen, it admits to 65% American ownership. Part of the documents turning the company over to the private owners is the requirement that the railway is the railway still follow bilingualism as a national policy in Canada, and that the headquarters of the railway remain in Montreal. Now, if you can convince me that somebody in Texas who owns the maximum 19.9% of Acadia National gets together with these two buddies and somewhere else in Florida, perhaps or California and decides to move the headquarters into the states, they will be resisted. I wonder but the question then becomes a public versus private ownership. Both can be right at the right times. I submit that Canadian National was public certainly at the right times. And what is left open the question at the moment is whether private possession is right for these times. And whether we we see the the whole issues of of, of the roots that are followed by our most important and critical products. Again, grain is key. And we start to see grain starting to shift. So they're they're finding their their roots down south. And we're also finding allied with that if you look at the crow's nest or the whole patchwork of lines and in the prairies there, those are what the railways call branch lines. And the railways are determined to turn them into what they call sharp lines. sharp line is a euphemism euphemism for branch lines that have been sold off to to private enterprise. And they operate on shoestrings extreme degrees of flexibility. You can run the locomotive one day in a sharp line you can you can be accounting in the office the next day are dispatching with the crews the day after. Flexibility is a main thing that the short lines have gained as their cars get sold up. And so the question then is, is we're starting to look east, so our saris north and south and losing our East West Alliance. And those are finally just to finish off those of you who have Saltspring, who have two or three weeks ago, went to the Save the CBC. Meeting on the island will will realize that a great deal of our East our of our east, west alliances are being broken. Now whether we can survive as a country, whether we should survive as a country is a matter that we should be debating and looking at. And that's a sort of area where I think us as historians, and as people interested in history should be looking to the whole wider range of things. Looking at our history, say do we want to remain separate? And railways transportation have been central to that argument since time, not time immemorial, but since 1836 and Qaeda national predecessor was built on the animal our sides of the Island of Montreal. Montreal. Thank you very much. Are there any questions?

Unknown Speaker 44:32
Yes, it's article 97 to the British North America. It says a railway shall be built from Halifax to I don't know if it gives a point in because it finished it Levy and those of you ever used the railway sometimes could see you know where it stops that being a corneal station. I'd love it. No, it was actually part of it, of the of the original America.

Unknown Speaker 45:06
time when they gave every bloody job. And it's been qubits no place to train.

Unknown Speaker 45:18
Okay, yeah. Oh, yeah. And, and the railways that did all sorts of things like that. And if we, I'll use two examples. Montreal has been Oh freezes. And I told you about the Canadian government Merchant Marine, which was the seagoing arm of Canadian National Railways. Well, they could no longer go up the river. And so they went the homeported and the St. John or Halifax, and, and all the all the freight clerks and all with all the civilian crew from Montreal, were shipped down to Halifax for the winter to handle the ships in Halifax. And well, yeah, during World War Two, Canada is perfectly well known just how many ships Canada built during World War Two. And they weren't just warships, we built over 400 merchant ships as well. And one of the reasons that that they decided to build each ship and wherever they didn't build it was the big requirement was to repair ships, whether they were merchants or warships. And repairing ships is something you can't, you can't you can't forecast because you don't know when they're going to be damaged. And so on in between repairing ships that would be actually building ships. And so Canadian National Railways, ran a shipyard in Prince Rupert and built warships and merchant ships during World War Two. And when the men were working on repairing on the on the essential and critical repairs, they were sent off, and that's how Canada built today tribal class destroyers and shipyards. The tribals were well it's a long story. You don't want me to get into that one. But the tribals were were first tribal was launched in 19, September 1943. And did not wasn't commissioned to lock a little just after the war. But the men built that sort of in their spare time when they weren't repairing ships.

Unknown Speaker 47:22
So many passenger trains a lot of the passengers were retired

Unknown Speaker 47:28
well, it will seem like BC Ferries Yeah, there there is that to it. But the Via Rail, for example, I don't have a pass. I joined CNN after 1977. Nowadays, if a CNN employee or CP employee who's entitled for past travels in the past, very he gets paid. Cn RCP whoever the employee works for has to read reimbursement. Yes, it was reciprocal, you could have gone over to Britain and done the same.

Unknown Speaker 48:15
In the 50s, or to the

Unknown Speaker 48:19
west much revenue.

Unknown Speaker 48:22
With the idea of the free trucking, while trucking

Unknown Speaker 48:27
was always of concern to the railways. And as you know, both rail was going to get into their own trucking arms. And in fact, we've just rung down the the sad story of CN Express en route route Canada and which is one of the most disastrous stories of privatization that you could have to be a case example. Yes, they did. And so, and that's in the 50s was Donald Gordon's time and he looked very carefully, and very aggressively buying up trucking companies. And that's what the railroads did. And it was a little bit too late, too slow and too late. And they never were able to make the tracking arms work the way they wanted to. And they weren't able to stop the fatal flow of goods to trucks, they still face that problem. And that's why you see them touting their piggyback service, things like that. Where they load the trucks on piggyback just to double via via rail. Vancouver, Toronto, Vancouver is the same virtually the same as it took when it first started. Its three days three nights.

Unknown Speaker 49:49
Road wrote a letter to the editor of driftwood it was 18 months or so ago should be around. Back he's And she was absolutely as negative as it's possible to be that it was in the service. And I can't remember all the details of it. But the one thing I remember was it seemed expensive

Unknown Speaker 50:14
expenses to kill her. And I don't know the breakdown. This trip cost each of the hospitals about $3,300. And a large part of it was the rail travel, I don't know the percentage, and I don't know what break the rail gave a few look into the expense, your coach ticket is higher than, you know, a reasonably good not candidate 3000 Or one vote but a reasonable charter, Canadian or Canada. If you then tack on your your sleeping accommodation, it's virtually out of reach. And that's the sad part.

Unknown Speaker 50:53
Because you said it was $2,700, which was absolutely shocking. I'm an American, and I've written written Amtrak and Amtrak is really inexpensive, there to

Unknown Speaker 51:08
it isn't expensive. The V rail has been told that it has to have to cut back and it has to it's it's been told how to stop getting subsidies. And Amtrak is a little bit that Amtrak is toll subsidized to a degree but it's getting much less. And I will put it simply down the bottom. You've got you've got the volume of clothing, and you can keep it

Unknown Speaker 51:41
they were real men. Can you track down where men were like,

Unknown Speaker 51:48
early 1900s I'm glad you brought this up. This is almost impossible to do. And if they happen to work for CPE you might be a little luckier but if they worked on the if they were part of the construction crews, it's almost impossible because construction crews weren't really employees. Construction crews work for construction gangs, Foley and Welsh Stewart here on the coast. But each and correctly as you get further gone into the into the sub sub sub contract thing but it was a local farmer who would get together five five min during winter and cut ties are are degrading and and so and the men would leave their their their laboring jobs or and constrict track construction. And there were no records ever kept for the railroad themselves. And I can speak really pristine, unless you happen to have hit certain chunks of CN, CN, historical records are transferred by agreement to the National Archives of Canada. And luckily, that happened before I joined the company. Because the agreement also stated that personnel records would be destroyed when they finished their administrative time. So they have been once I joined cn, and we found pockets of personal records. One was from the Intercolonial Railway. And it's their priceless the ones we found there. Another group we found was from the normal burner release, I don't know how many of you know that. That was a really good run. You can see it on the map there and to northern Alberta, great waterways and things like that. And it was jointly run by cncp. It's now a CNN property. But I chose most of the time it was jointly run, and we find a pocket of those records and we transfer those to national or to the Alberta archives. I have never been in favor of transferring records unless they're of national importance to the giant vacuum cleaner and Ottawa. And wherever I could we transferred the regional records to Regional Archives. See and built for churches. Yes, it started Katy Northern. It was it was largely politics, largely politics and and they kept they kept that draw of, you know, closer water route from from Canada to the other side. The it took him a long time to realize that grain can be transported in bulk and steamships successfully. And there's opposition to the shipping grain through the Panama Canal until he realized that yes, you could shove the stuff and still steamships and then we still get there in decent shape. So that the Churchill line was created national and the trouble was ever since. And in fact, they started it before World War One and they didn't finish it until I think the first grain when I was 32. And it never and its shipping season is really only about two months extended. But the first shift coming in there will always be that. Yes, that's always the cap And

Unknown Speaker 55:05
then then there'll be the traffic arguments. Well, it was the fault of the captain or the fault the ship or the fulcrum of the waterway. And now of course, as we know, it's frozen at Muskegon, and so on and cn tried and I think it was it was well intentioned. They tried to devise HyperCard, green hopper cars, it could go up there. They're specially articulated to spread the weight better. But even that, that didn't work particularly well. But it's not all beaten up? Well, I wasn't the old insurance I was a new Prince George. Thankfully, she's saying before she got she stamped before she got the prince or before she got tuck was taking it to other ships across and Prince George saying, and I don't know if anybody else has been reading the news reports on it. But it sure looks to me so there's something shifty about it because it was a fly by night. Company American. Sorry. And they happen to lose the Prince George on the roof

Unknown Speaker 56:16

Unknown Speaker 56:23
Oh, yeah, no effect. We are. Yeah, I'm glad you did this for me. Yeah. As part of the whole process, and I warn them that I had my own bias. And, and the other thing, of course, some of you may have guessed, I was born in Scotland. And so whenever the change came up, and it came up a lot, we talked about the Scottish people who work from the top to the bottom of railways. And, you know, they were starting to get a little bit bored with this until we got on the train in Toronto, and they put us in our own private car. And again, thank you, Tony. And it was called McKenzie Manor. But I've got to prove their skeptics here is that you'll just nailed that up and I didn't that was that was there

Unknown Speaker 57:15
should be Thank you. We really recognize your

Unknown Speaker 57:19
expertise in your work as our customers.

Unknown Speaker 57:25
Tremendous knowledge

Unknown Speaker 57:27
on the topic. We all wish we could do that to the elder hospital tourists on behalf of the success society. Thank you very much