A Visit to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario

I am up to Ottawa several times a year, I have been since I was in University.  Sometimes to visit friends; sometimes to go to sporting events; sometimes just for a get away; more recently to see my Niece and Nephew; and, now to see my parents who have moved there.  I’ve been in Ottawa at least twice a year since 1999 and yet, until last weekend, I had never visited the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls.  I had tried a couple of times over the years, but was either too early in the year or too late in the year for them to be open.

IMGP9892RawConv.jpgCPR S-3 switcher 6591 at the Platform at the former CNR Station that now forms the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario.

After a Canada Day weekend visit to family in Ottawa, on Sunday July 2nd, I saw that the museum was running a “Train Rides” day on the Sunday.  We were already planning on heading home along the slow road (i.e. Highway 7 instead of Highway 401), and a stop at the museum finally became a reality.

The museum compromises several buildings, including the Canadian Northern/Canadian National Station Building, a flag stop station and a section house.  There are a number of rail vehicles of various types, including several cabooses, inspection cars, passenger cars and freight cars.  In addition, they have an Ex-CNR Snow Plow and Ex-CNR Dental Car which were open during our visit.

Ex-CNR Snow Plow 55400, built in 1935 by National Steel Car, and in service until around 1995 based on the inspection stencils.  The cab doesn’t look like a very comfortable place to be while being shoved through a snow drift!

Inside the museum, a volunteer was busy typing out train orders for the days train, and demonstrating telegraphy and Morse code in the beautifully restored operators office of the station.  We had a great chat with him, he was very knowledgeable and engaging and was doing a great job of explaining what he was doing to visitors less familiar with railway operations than we are.

The Ex-CNR Dental Car.  In service until 1977, this car was moved around northern Ontario bringing a Dentist to the people in small isolated communities where a full-time dentist wouldn’t have enough business.  The Car is complete with waiting room, nurses office, a single dental chair/station, kitchen, and accommodations for the nurse and dentist.

The train rides on offer were about a 2km run out and back, using two cabooses for passengers, an Ex-CN Metal Caboose (79274), and an Ex-CPR Wooden Caboose (437183).  The train backed out from the station, was switched onto the east siding, pulled back into the museum yard, then reversed the trip.  People were able to ride in the cupola of the caboose on each trip, and a couple of lucky people got to ride in the locomotive cab for the ride.

The Train at the outward end of its run, before reversing back and returning to the station.  Steam Locomotive 1112 which was open for Cab Visits, and the restored interior of the third caboose (CPR 437169) not being used on the train on this day.

All in all, we visited for about an hour and a half, and it was well worth the stop.  The museum clearly has a dedicated and knowledgeable group of volunteers, who are working hard to constantly improve their offering.  I look forward to going back in a couple of years time when my niece and nephew are a bit older and will really get something out of the visit and a train ride!

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