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CBC Fiftieth Anniversary VIA Train

By Lorraine Symons

We left the Brockville station on the 10:10 a.m. train bound for Ottawa Ontario. My friend Darlene and I were going to the Science and Technology museum to tour the CBC's 50th Anniversary train that was in town for the day. This train, which began its journey in British Columbia, has been traveling across the country making stops along the way and will finish its journey in Nova Scotia. It is a celebration of the fifty years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Our train arrived in Ottawa right on time and we hailed a cab for the ten-minute ride to the museum. It was evident that many schools were present today, as the different exhibits and play centres were jammed with children of all ages. There were colouring contests, face painting, and clowns, jugglers and magicians performing for their appreciative audiences. One centre had two Ottawa Senator hockey players signing autographs and answering hockey related questions. But when Leo Gravelle, a former Montreal Canadian hockey player, made an appearance the line-up grew longer for an opportunity to speak with, and acquire his autograph. The CBC display was housed in two converted baggage cars. One of the curators told us it took a year to complete the conversion of these cars, the work being done in Toronto, and memorabilia was on loan from the CBC museum in Toronto. There were numerous old photos with the displays, and actual costumes and props of many of these much-loved t.v. programs. Maggie Muggins', Friendly Giant, Chez Helene, Mr. Dress-up, and Howdy Doody were but a few. A section on the old camera equipment once used, and showcases' displaying some of the many awards won over the years by the CBC was most interesting.

A little further down the track was Via Rails new Renaissance train; the passenger and sleeper cars were open for public inspection. It was nice viewing these cars in daylight as I had only seen them at night. First time visitor expressions of "ooh" and "ahh", and "look at this" confirmed their surprise and pleasure at scrutinizing these cars up close. I took a few pictures of the wheelchair accessible bedroom with its wider doorways, much larger bathroom and lower positioned bed. It is nice to know that people using a wheelchair can be comfortably accommodated on these trains. There were plenty of Via staff on board to answer any questions, and the Via information booth outside had many give-aways for anyone coming in for a visit. The Renaissance car numbers were: engine # 907 and cars 7202...7201...7201...7303...7508...7510...7504.

The afternoon was quickly slipping away, so we again hailed a cab and proceeded back to the station to await our 4:45 p.m. train to Brockville. While waiting in the ticket line we met David Jeanes, of Transport 2000 Canada, who recognized our Train Web shirts. We chatted about train station architecture in general, and talked of the old Ottawa Union Station, in my opinion, the most beautiful station in Canada. At 4:30 we boarded our train, content to sit back and enjoy the hour and ten-minute ride back to Brockville. Arrival time was 5:55 p.m. On time.

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