On October 26, 1949, the Train of Tomorrow created by General Motors visited Stratford, Ontario. My father took the accompanying pictures with a folding bellows Kodak camera. Looking back now, I wonder what he was thinking. The wages to feed him and his family were based on steam locomotive technology. Here in this visit was the opposition. Here was the new railroad power that would put him out of a job at CN's Stratford Shop. Still he took these great pictures.
On October 27, 1949, I was eight years old. ln four days, my life would be radically changed, but lremember on that day sneaking off the school grounds of Shakespeare Public School (to this day all the schools in Stratford are named after Shakespearean characters). I just had to get over the two blocks to the tracks where the Train of Tomorrow would be going by. I still remember that.
Funny, but I thought I was the only one really moved by that train. Then in the fall of 2007, I noticed in Trains Magazine a review of a new book called "The Train of Tomorrow" by Ric Morgan. I just had to have it.
Ric was hit even harder than me. His first words in the preface are "l am in love, and I have been ever since I first saw a picture of the Train of Tomorrow".
For someone as smitten as me, the book is a dream come true. Ric answers every question about that train including what eventually happened to it. The Canadian tour ran from September 22 until October 30, 1949. After the tour ended in 1950, the Union Pacific Railroad purchased the equipment for its contribution to pool service in the Seattle-Portland run with Northern Pacific & Great Northern.
Just picking out some highlights, lnote that the T.O.T (as the diarist called it ) had "surprising crowd appeal in Canada". The T.O.T. arrived in Ottawa at 5:00 p.m. on September 25, 1949.
Here are the notes from its Ottawa visit:
September 26-28 - Much rain for the show. Exhibit near station. On 26th, cabinet ministers are entertained by Mr. C.E. Wilson at a luncheon while riding out to Carlton(sic) Place and back. Left 1 1:30and returned at'l:30 PM. This trip also on CPR.
September 29 - 1:00 PM is the departure time from Ottawa. Lunch aboard as we roll towards Montreal via CNR. Press pickup at Coteau 3:30 PM arriving in Montreal at 4:45 PM.
But what of the Stratford visit that impressed me so much? Here are the notes from page 176 of Morgan's book:
October 26 - Breakfast aboard as we leave St. Catharines at 8:00 AM and proceed up the CNR for Stratford and one-day show. (Presumably they were routed via Hamilton and Paris Junction to Stratford). Weather cold and bright. Press pickup at Paris (my
guess was right) at 10:00 AM with 11:00 AM arrival in Stratford. Another steam engine for heating. (A mystery - did the air-conditioning and ventilation not provide sufficient heat for an Ontario October?) Bad crowd situation as line crossed hot track, but utmost caution used by passing trains.
October 27 - 8:00 AM sees us on our way to Chatham via CNB. Stop made in London for press group and also group of ladies as guests of Mrs. E.V. Rippingville Jr.
Shucks, there was no mention of the wistful little boy standing at the Victoria street crossing. Still what a thrill it is for me to relive those wonderful moments, if only by reading about them again.
Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, March 2010, page 8.