Sir John A Macdonald First and Only Trip To The West

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  • Member since
    September, 2013
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Sir John A Macdonald First and Only Trip To The West
Posted by Miningman on Sunday, July 28, 2019 5:12 PM
Excerpt

With the mountains I was enormously impressed. The sublimity of the scene awed me beyond measure. As I sat with some members of our party on the cow-catcher of our train at a point near the summit of the Selkirks, suspended over a foaming torrent nearly three hundred feet below, with the glorious mountains all about us, I found myself unconsciously repeating the opening words of the Te Deum, “Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur,'' while all around seemed to answer back, “Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.’’

Sir John joined us on the cow-catcher, and we rode together thereon about a hundred and fifty miles, a rather risky procedure, as we afterward learned, and any repetition of which Mr. Van Horne, when he heard of it, peremptorily forbade by reason of the land and rock slides which every now and then came thundering down the mountain slopes of the newly constructed road.

Lady Macdonald, with characteristic imprudence, occupied the cow-catcher most of the way between Canmore and Port Moody, a distance of nearly six hundred miles, Fred White, George Johnson, and I accompanying her in turn.

 

On the last morning of our western railway journey my turn on the cowcatcher came with the rising sun. We were going along over a straight piece of road near Hope at a fairly lively rate when suddenly there started up from a neighboring ditch a number of young pigs, just in front of the train. They ran for a while straight ahead of the engine, then broke and scattered, all except one little fellow who seemed determined to try conclusions with us, for he kept on the track, running as hard as he could, and squealing at the top of his bent. We closed on him rapidly. I knew we were in great danger, but there was nothing to be done. The train rushed on. The point of the cow-catcher was a foot from the pig’s hind legs. I heard the thud as the on-speeding train struck him. Squealing, he was lifted high in the air, and passed between my body and the post I was holding! The engine driver, who immediately above me was looking out of his window in horror, comforted me after the crisis had passed, with the assurance that if that pig had struck any of us going at the rate we were, it would have been more disastrous than a rifle bullet. I have not ridden on a cow-catcher since.


 
 
 

 More Macleans... now you know how the CPR filled up their Diesels!

Diesel up at the full-service Esso station

  • Member since
    January, 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, July 28, 2019 8:14 PM

His only trip West?  He never went back for the fishing?  Whistling

I'm suprised those folks rode the cow-catcher as long as they did and didn't get covered with bugs!

  • Member since
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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, July 28, 2019 10:57 PM

An amazing recollection that is quite surprising. Riding the cow catcher along with the Mrs. 600 miles into Port Moody at that through the mountains. A practice Van Horne had specifically banned! We almost lost out first Prime Minister and founding father to a flying pig. 

Also to think that our PM and his entourage had to climb up a ladder to get to the second floor of a hotel where the rooms were because the stairs had not yet been completed. 

We are soft silly beings compared to these Giants! 

  • Member since
    January, 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 29, 2019 8:40 AM

People were tough back then, no doubt about it.

You know, whenever I see/hear/read some egghead critisizing the founders and builders of our respective countries I always say to myself...

Listen pal, you go out, and you accomplish something of the magnitude that those men did, aside from pounding out drivel on a computer that few besides your colleagues and like-minded fellow-travelers will ever read, then talk!" 

I just get so mad...

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