WHEN the Arctic navigator, Sir John Franklin, with canoe crews of voyageurs and Indians, eastbound after exploring the Great Lakes pitched wigwams in the summer of 1839 at the confluence of stream and lake where the nucleus of present Cobourg, Canada, was taking root, little did this adventurous sailor think that from a point where they camped a railroad would thirteen years later bisect the unbroken forest. Yet, it is so, and the whirligig of time has, likewise, recorded the obituary of that railway—has witnessed the effacement of the name of those early laid steel ribbons from the timetables of a young country which to-day hungers and lobbies for more and more tracks and trams.
Cobourg and thereabouts, is ancient territory as settlements go nowadays. In 1796 the district was surveyed and a United Empire Loyalist—Eluid Nickerson—took out the first patent in 1802 during the reign of King George III., but in spite of its monarchical predilections, the locality has long been of interest to our cousins south of Lake Ontario and a few years after the time of construction of Cobourg and Peterborough Railway, of which I speak, several iron masters and capitalists from Pittsburg acquired the property. This pioneer Upper Canada line was mooted in 1851 by local promoters: it took definite form in 1852 and on February 7th, 1853, Lady Mayoress, Mrs. S. E. Mackechnie, officiated in the ceremony of turning the first sod amidst tremendous public enthusiasm.
Close in the wake of this propitious beginning construction advanced and under the supervision of engineer Ira Spaulding and Contractor Zimmerman the line pushed through valley and glade fifteen miles to Rice Lake’s sloping, fertile shore at Harwood, while feathered and furry prowlers of the virgin woods were piqued with curiosity by the strange sights and sounds. The following year saw the railroad extended as
Editor’s Note.—In Canada, railroad construction during the past ten years has accustomed even the remotest inhabitant to steam shovel and to ballast trains. It comes with some news to many to find that a railway sometimes dies and is buried from memory. Mr. Copeland herewith details such an occurrence, and because of the author’s connection with railways, this lore of the steel horse will be interesting to Canadians.
far as Peterborough. Antique locomotives with impossible superstructures coughed and squeaked along this primi-
tive highway, meanwhile eating a mighty hole in the wood pile, as coal and oü burners were not contrived. Though crudely equipped with iron and some wooden rails, the road was nevertheless a startling and welcome innovation at that period for abbreviating space. The buliding of the Grand Trunk Railway had only commenced at Riviere du Loup, P.Q., and saddle horse and coach were shank’s mares only substitutes. Picture, if you can, a journey inside a twoteamed springless stage, tediously winding westward past bear haunt, swamp and river: for instance, over the historic, old military road from Kingston! It must have been a hunter’s paradise.
The bridging of Rice Lake was a costly engineering undertaking, proving a burden from which the management never recovered and the structure became notorious later on. The alternate rigors of winter, and spring reaction, upset calculations as well as the bridge’s equilibrium. Those piles which had no foundation in fact—in the lake bottom, to be more exact—dangled from the upper work, an encumbrance instead of a support and many of the bolts disappeared, some claim by design of wrongly disposed persons. One autumn night after a southbound train from Peterborough had passed over, the shivering spans succumbed to a gale and disappeared. To-day they remain the abode of Gunge, bass and other denizens of the waters.
From Harwood some distance off shore to Tick Island a filling had been made and the bridge trestles were projected two miles across the westerly loop of the lake to where Hiawatha Indian settlement still harbors the fishing and rice-gathering sons and daughters of sires long since passed to the happy hunting grounds. You may see them any summer day vying with “ Alderville” redskins from near Roseneath, in deftly wielding the paddle, as of yore when their forbears fought fiercely all round that favored camping place.
When ice heaved the bridge floor, four-horse sleighs transported passengers inland between Harwood, the Indian village and depot at Ashburnham, seven miles north. To take charge of this old station, which afterwards became a canoe factory, Donald Sutherland was the first appointed and Mr. Roebuck became the Cobourg representative. William Yon Ingen, now collector of His Majesty’s Customs at Woodstock, Ont., collected tickets covering the run of about twenty-five miles, which cost one dollar per capita and entitled the holder to the usual privileges save the compartment sleeper, electric fans and curling iron.
It is recounted that one forenoon long ago the sheriff unexpectedly boarded a northbound “C. & P.” train on which the superintendent was also traveling. Although the latter was not a mind reader he had a presentiment that the sheriff’s presence might not augur well for his particular department. Everything was placid on the lake itself until the train approached the height of land at Summit, nine miles up from Cobourg, when the brakes controlling the rear car in which the court official sat in tranquil state, were locked and the coupling pin withdrawn. A retrograde movement quickly followed and the sheriff was powerless to stem the progress of his unwilling hurry. As though the Evil One was after him, down grade rolled the flustered occupant of the flying carriage to where it started. Nothing daunted, the sheriff procured a team and drove the fifteen miles back to Harwood, but found on arrival that everything not nailed down, including attachable railway equipment, etc., had forsaken Northumberland and was transferred across the bridge to the next county.
Early in the day of September 7th, 1860, a “special moved over the “C. & P. ” conveying Edward, Prince of Wales and suite from Cobourg to Harwood en route to Peterborough. As the old bridge was considered unsafe for this precious young patron and entourage, they were much interested in being ferried across Rice Lake to the Mississauga Indian settlement near the mouth of the
Winding Otonabee River, from which point Royalty and retinue was driven to Peterborough.
This railway’s legitimate traffic— forest products and lumber—was hauled for several years from the interior to docks at Cobourg, thence by steamer to various lake ports. Time wrought changes, and debt became the most formidable obstacle to progress. Dura spell of depression under the regime of the first manager, John Fowler, a financial coup d’ etat was arranged with the Midland, Port Perry, Lindsay & Beaverton Railway and in 1857 Lieut.Colonel D’Arcy E. Boulton, a Cobourg aristocrat, rented the property, battling valiantly for a time against odds in an endeavor to rehabilitate its prestige.
After the Civil War the road came under the control of the Pennsylvania iron triumvirate mentioned, Messrs. Chambliss, Schoenburg and Fitzhugh from Virginia who changed the title to Cobourg, Peterborough & Marmora Railway and Mining Company, utilizing their new possession for handling iron ore from Blairton, Ont., mines across Rice Lake via Harwood and Cobourg to the Cleveland, Ohio, smelters and mills.
During the summer of 1874 the ViceRegal couple, Lord and Lady Dufferin, participated in an eleven hour outing from Cobourg via C. P. & M. R. & M. Co., Harwood, Rice Lake steamer and Hastings and extracts from the Countess’ description of their ore mine inspection and experiences, as set down in Her Ladyship’s diary at the time, read as follows :—
“1 did not expect to care the least about it as we had seen so many untidy, stoney, barren places called mines, but this one was really an interesting sight. We found ourselves at the top of an enormous hole or cavern, 140 feet deep, large in proportion, perfectly open and light as day. The men looked like imps as they worked below and it was the sort of thing one sees represented, in miniature, in a fairy play. The sides were walls or iron; but, alas, coal is found only in the States. . . .
When we returned to the steamer we found a barge tied to its side cov-
ered in with green—a floating arbor —in which lunch was laid; and very glad we were of it, as we had breakfasted at 7.30 a.m. and it was now 2.00 p.m. The managers of the mines, the steamers, etc., are Americans and we were their guests. Colonel Chambliss and General Fitzhugh, witli their wives (two sisters), were our hosts. They lived in the hotel at which we stayed and are charming Southerners. ’ ’
The old parliament of Upper Canada incorporated the earlier organization. In 1869 an Act was passed legalizing the amalgamation of the railway and mining companies. In 1887 the Ontario Legislature and Federal Parliament were appealed to respecting sale of the company’s bonds. Several rearrangements of its name and financial status subsequently occurred and at one time the Municipality of Cobourg became a guarantor in further reorganization, but much protracted litigation was the precursor of dissolution. The Act of 1893 amalgamated the Cobourg-Harwood division with the Grand Trunk Railway. Presently operation of the miniature system ceased altogether and thus did a budding nation, in a constructive age, behold a once famous railway rust into oblivion.
The Politeness of Kings.
Little is known by the public of the intimate home life of Raymond Poincare, the French President. Strangely contrasting with the glittering pomp and ceremony of his public life, his existence when shielded from the limelight behind the walls of the Elysee Palace is one of marked simplicity.
He is a typical specimen of the successful Frenchman—clear-headed, muscular, active and industrious. He rises every day, winter and summer, at 6 a.m. At 6.30 his dressing and toilet are finished and he reads the morning papers until 7. His training as a lawyer enables him to exercise a rapid and judicious choice as regards news, and half an hour suffices for him to extract the cream of half a dozen journals. He takes his breakfast at the same time. His “petit dejeuner” is the same as that of millions of Frenchmen—coffee and roils. At 7 o’clock the day’s work begins with the signing of multitudinous documents. This might be done in a couple of hours if performed in a perfunctory manner, but Poincare has the bump of prudence very strongly developed ; he reads every document he is asked to sign. This work performed with the minuteness and thoroughness whi(¿ characterizes all his actions, lasts till noon.
M. Poincare now takes lunch with his wife. This is a moment of relaxation in the midst of his daily work and he makes the most of it. They are a typical happy French “menage” — Communicating, confiding and good tempered.
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