Thursday, December 25, 2008

CPR Holiday Train Steams into the Junction of History

By Neil Ross

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train steamed into the Junction Tuesday night, flying Canadian and American flags and a neon Christmas tree. The Junction crowd was made up of families and other residents jubilant to be allowed access to the railway yard for the first time in their lives. Apparently, the train’s stop was something of a coup for Councillor Saundercook who appeared in a box car with Councilors Nunziata and Palacio. The Holiday Train raises money for local food banks and it was a joy to be able to contribute knowing the proceeds would go to be used right here in the community as the cold weather was a grim reminder of how much we need to share in this northern clime. Also sharing were Tim Horton’s who provided free coffee and hot chocolate to the crowd. This is the tenth anniversary of the holiday train and over its decade it’s raised two hundred and thirteen tons of food and over one and a half million dollars.

As the big doors opened on the side of the box car the unmistakable strains of the theme to the Friendly Giant swept across the crowd. Santa Claus himself was the first performer channeling James Brown as the hardest working man at the North Pole and revealing an extraordinary set of lungs on the long notes. Also featured were Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member Tracey Brown, CCMA winner Johnny Reid, and singer/guitarist/song-writer Shaun Verreault. The highlights included a song written on board the train just that day which seemed to be called A Change is Coming which had Junction parents dancing with their children and children dancing with each other. Another was the guitar solo during Silent Night . . . and there’s a sentence you don’t get to write very often. Actually Silent Night had been nicely adapted to the 2008 Politically Correct Carol Book to Sabbath Night, which played quite well, and considering the aforementioned guitar solo was perhaps a more apt title than Silent Night.

Junction Historical Society train expert Raymond Kennedy ( had been scheduled to give a talk on the history of railways in the Junction of which he is an invaluable fount of lore. Unfortunately, his talk was only briefly mentioned from the train and Raymond wisely put the event off for some later date. It’s a shame as Raymond could have given the crowd something the other speakers could not: what the trains really meant to this historic community. We’re told that if enough excitement is generated the CPR will bring the train back next year. An old Junction rebel whispers in my ear: "how much excitement would it take for them to rebuild the railway station?" but the food bank is a right now need and the CPR is to be commended.

Happy Holidays from the West Toronto Junction Historical Society Centennial Committee.

2008 © Neil Ross

Neil Ross, writer/comedian/historian
West Toronto Junction Historical Society
Centennial Committee Chair

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A terrible article by supposed historian Neil Ross. Councillor Saundercook & the other councillors lead the initiative to have the train stop in the Junction. This took months of work and administration. This is an example, once again, of the West Toronto Histerical Society attempting to take credit for things that are completely beyond the scope of their operations. This is not a criticism of this blog, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the posted item. Thank you.