The weekend of 6-7 June, 1981 was quite an event for 1201. The National Museum of Science and Technology steam locomotive travelled to Montreal to participate at the CP Rail Angus Shops open day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the company. Paul Bown and I went with John Corby, from the NMST, to accompany the locomotive back to the place of her birth thirty-seven years earlier. Some 22,000 people had been invited to this gala event so we had to ensure that everything went well for the Pacific.
Backing down on the Museum Train on the Saturday we were joined by Merv Payne, the CP engineer and Kevin, an engine service brakeman. Paul and I gleefully realized that, because Kevin had had no steam experience, one of us would have to fire for the entire trip. We decided that I would fire to Vankleek Hill and Paul would take her into Montreal. We would swap around on the return trip.
The first surprise was to learn that we were running as the second section of Via train No. 2, "The Canadian". No extra flags today although first No. 2 had left some four hours earlier carrying green flags.
Departure from the Museum was a little late owing to brake trouble on the rear two cars - we decided to leave them behind and just take the three. Out of the museum, along the "Old A!ex" and along the dead track where we were passed by a Via passenger train. This would have made a good shot but I don't think anyone was around to record the event. The switch soon came over and we took the M and O wye to the M and O subdivision. A number of Bytown members had asked us to give a little smoke at Anderson Road. Paul sanded the flues and I rather overdid it a bit on the oil! 1201 steamed well but it was at least 15 miles before I could get the pressure comfortably from 230 up to 245 lbs. Once properly warmed up it was an easy job to keep pressure just below popping off and with water well up the glass. I could then concentrate on the scenery and waving to surprised bystanders as well as watching my side of the train on left hand curves.
A quick stop for inspection at Bourget revealed no problems and we proceeded to Vankleek Hill for a run by. With Kevin sanding the flues we provided smoke as requested.
By now Merv had really got the measure of 1201. He was running her well latched up - very little noise from either stack or motion and fuel consumption, at 45 mph, was very low.
We stopped at Hudson where the fire department was waiting to fill the tender. Half of the village had turned out to meet us. John Corby was standing below the cab when a little girl approached.
"Can I go up and have a look?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Right, well hold this then."
John found himself looking after a pet mouse while its owner inspected his locomotive.
At Rigaud we passed the work extra waiting in the hole for second No. 2 and on to Vandreuil where we slowed to pick up orders. Now carrying extra flags we raced along the lakeshore at speeds close to 60 mph.
A brief stop at Doval and the rail fans began to chase us. Lots of friendly greetings at Westmount preceded a triumphant arrival into Windsor Station - not before we had surprised a police car which beeped at us.
We backed up the hill out of Windsor Station, very relaxed now, to Glen Yard where we turned on the loop - the first steam locomotive to do so since 1961 - 20 years. Dropping the train under the curious gaze of an army of yellow hats and a number of knowing white ones we went over towards the roundhouse for fuel and water. The nozzle used to fuel diesel locomotives is much wider than the filler on 1201 and they had to use a funnel. It took half an hour to take on 250 gallons.
Peter Ley!and moved 1201 towards the roundhouse where we would grease it and get away to the hotel around 20:00. It had been a long hot day and Paul and I could almost taste that cold beer.
1201 didn't want to take the curve into the roundhouse. There was a bump and we were on the ground. Trailing wheel of the front truck and leading driver were both off.
Paul said, "Its going to be a long night".
1201 on the ground in the Glen Yard, waiting for the rerailing crew.
The yellow hats disappeared like magic. At that moment the heavens opened. A couple of the white hats were sheltering in the leaky roundhouse surveyed the scene gloomily deciding whether to phone a superior or whether to just wait and see what would happen.
We examined the slightly tilting machine in the dusk -it was raining heavily. The only damage seemed to be a broken air line to the front left hand cylinder cock. This could be quickly fixed once we were back on the road. When this would be seemed to be a closely guarded secret.
Darkness fell and 1201 forlornly sat with her lights glowing brightly. The eagerly anticipated steak dinner and wine was replaced by a quarter chicken eaten with fingers and a plastic fork, sitting on the engine and washed down with warm coke.
And then our salvation arrived! The wrecking crew from St. Luc rolled up in a large yellow truck - as welcome a sight as the U.S. Cavalry. Inaction was turned into violent action. The dogs were quickly placed in position under this strange machine that none had seen before and I was asked:
"Does your unit have power?"
Realizing they were referring to 1201, I answered in the affirmative.
"Could you get it on under its own power?" to which I replied,
"Yes, maybe, but if, you don't mind, I'd prefer you to use one of your units."
An RS 18 (8750?) was coupled up behind and the truck driven up with its headlights on to illuminate the wheels. At the signal on the radio the RS 18 backed off and managed to move the drivers up the dogs but not enough to get her back. They let her go back and tried a second time. This time the wheels rose up and for an agonizing second the flanges rode the top of the rail. Then with a sickening thud the wheels dropped back on, the impact was sufficient to force the rail down 3-4 inches. I was surprised the rail hadn't broken. The force of putting the driver back on had dropped off the leading wheels of the front truck but the momentum was sufficient to bring the front truck back on without stopping.
It was decided to leave 1201 in the diesel servicing shop. This was the best idea in any case as there was good access to hot and cold water, lights and a pit. The RS 18, watched by an army of white hats, put us in, now with the fire extinguished and it didn't take very long for us to grease and oil her. We finally left the Glen at midnight. 1201 was in the charge of Leo, the diesel shop foreman.
Two very quick beers and I was in bed at 01:00 to be woken "immediately" at 05:30. Having finally sorted out the hotel bill we took a taxi to the Glen to be met by a very worried Leo who was obviously relieved that we were back.
"She's only got 125 lbs. Will you need air?"
"No, but how's the water?"
"Only half a glass - you'll never be out of here by seven".
Paul and I looked at each other realizing that we had it made.
"We will be ready to leave before seven so long as you pull us out of the shop now".
No sooner said than done. Out into a big crowd, mostly yellow hats, came our star and we knew we had to make her perform. Two very excited engineers pounced upon us and started to ask questions. The main concern was to light up and this provoked much interest until we calmed them down by suggesting that there could be a big bang. Of course the light-up was very smooth and 1201 was soon sizzling while we wiped her down.
I asked a foreman if he could let me have two of his yellow hats to help wipe her down. He replied:
"No, I don't think so. They might fall off and hurt themselves".
Contemplating that it was the centenary of the company that had forged this nation, I wondered whether it would last another hundred years. I then timidly asked if I could get a cup of coffee. This also was too much for the Glen.
We blew the cylinders clear at 06:50 (and cleared some of the accumulated yellow hats), and handed over to the road crew Jean-Marie and Lionel. True to our word there would be no delays caused by the locomotive.
Paul and I had agreed that I would fire to Angus and he would bring her back to the Glen.
The sun shone brightly on the trip to Angus in an overcrowded cab. Everyone was excited. We were greeted by the Angus Yardmaster, Mr. Charette, neatly attired in a safari suit.
We edged into Angus right up to the Midway, close to the main gate, and the enormity of the occasion hit me. After all of the problems getting Canadian Pacific to run 1057. and later on 1201, here we were right in the heart of the Company and at it’s invitation and connivance. It was at Angus that 1201, the last steam locomotive manufactured by Canadian Pacific, was built 37 years ago and here it was at an event to mark the centenary of the company and in front of 22,000 invited guests.
Everywhere I looked people laughed and waved.
"I did the rods for that engine."
"I remember making the drawings."
"I worked on the boiler."
"I remember her leaving here for the first time."
It was a happy, hectic, day of overcrowded cabs and giving rides to thousands of people in C.P. centenary tee shirts with kids holding C.P. centenary balloons.
We tore ourselves away from Angus at 1500, backed to Outremont, waited for a freight then made our way back to the Glen to be met by the rail fan fraternity (I saw friends from New Brunswick, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto). We turned on the loop track and firehoses and the oil truck from St. Luc did a quick job on fuel and water.
We backed down to Windsor Station and I prepared for the climb up to Westmount. As the brake test was being made I had 245 lbs. and the boiler as full as I dared. We would be starting cold right on to the grade at the end of the platform. As I heard the highball on the communication whistle, Merve Payne looked across and nodded. I had told him I could give him all the steam he needed. The throttle was opened gently as we traversed the platform. I opened the atomiser and blower, shut the damper and gave her enough oil to darken the stack. With the throttle well opened now we sanded the flues for the museum film crew and we attacked the grade.
I must admit I was disappointed. I was expecting a fight with a cold engine. Instead we sailed up in fine style and I had to cut back on fuel. Even so the safety valves lifted as the throttle was partially closed at Westmount.
To the joy of the rail fans the signals were against us at Montreal West so we were forced to slow right down before getting the road. Just afterwards we had to stop - the conductor told us over the radio there was somebody hanging on the outside of the train. As we slowed down he jumped off.
Under a clear sky and a clear stack 1201 began to get the measure of her train. A comfortable 50 mph took us easily past the many onlookers. From the fireman's seat I thumbed my nose as we passed a Canadian National freight with three wide cabs on the point. It wasn't a contest as they were at a signal. A good long whistle for Dorval drew the attention of a large number of people waiting for a Via train on the C.N. side. Their surprise turned to joy and everybody waved - many cheered. This is when its a great feeling to be in the left hand seat of a steam engine as I acknowledged this tribute with a casual wave from my gauntlet gloved hand.
On to the M and O at Vaudreuil and then mile upon mile of effortless, economical running at 45 - 50 mph with 1201 well latched up, no sound from either the stack or the motion and the fuel control only just off the stop.
The entire town was waiting for us to take water at Hudson. A little boy got up and, starting on one side, asked me the function of every gauge and valve. Trying to forestall him, I asked him if he wanted to know what the steam gauge was. His reply was a polite
"No thank you".
I decided to clear the cab of food. While at Angus somebody decided that we were hungry and handed to us two boxes of hot dogs, some soft drinks, half a dozen ice creams and about thirty donuts. Then it started to rain packets of chips until we told them to please stop. There was food everywhere in the cab so I started to throw donuts to the kids outside. It developed into quite a contest. Merv Payne blew up before I had finished so I just dumped a cardboard carton to one of the mothers. I shan't ever forget this, I hope there are many kids in Hudson who will remember the day the steam engine came to town and the fireman threw them a donut.
Another engineer who enjoyed running 1201 was Bert Canning.
I was glad to hand over to Paul at Vankleek Hill so I could sit on the centre seat and try to relax a little. Merv kept 1201 running easily and smoothly and there was no problem in keeping her hot. A slow order at Plantagenet followed by an assault of the hill let us hear 1201's stack for a little and we took the opportunity to sand the flues. We even helped to herd some cows which took fright and ran right into the barn under the thankful wave of the farmer.
Navan, Blackburn and finally M & O Junction, then Russell Road and backing into the Museum. We quickly put 1201 to bed in the warehouse. We were tired. Fifteen hours a day for two days in a row with four hour's sleep was enough to temporarily dampen our steam passion.
When I arrived home I was so tired my immediate reaction was "Never againl", but I think Paul summed it up a couple of days later when he said:
"The more sleep I get the better the weekend seems."