I HAD HOPED that this train would run on the same route
that my father took when he returned to base at Rockcliffe after leave,
but a glance at the stops tells me I'd hoped in vain.
My father would have left from (long-closed) Leaside station,
probably on CN tracks, and headed northeast through the Ontario countryside,
past Peterborough, Havelock and Perth, arriving at the old train station
in downtown Ottawa, just across from the Chateau Laurier, a short walk
from the Parliament buildings. He'd have caught a bus or ride up along
Rockcliffe Parkway by the Ottawa river to his base.
My train heads along the lakeshore from Union Station
on the usual route to Montreal and Quebec City, heading north to Ottawa
from Belleville. The Ottawa train station is in a suburb these days, a
big, plain, glass-walled shed out in the open. The old train station is
a conference centre now, and the tracks leading to it have been replaced
by a canal-side road.
So much has changed in the fifty or so years since the
time in my father's life I'm heading to Ottawa to research. It seems such
a vast gulf, now, barely visible through squints at maps and buildings
MORE SIGNS OF CHANGE: Outside Gananoque, between Kingston
and Brockville, a llama standing in a famer's field, surveying the scrubby
pasture and autumn colours, long-lashed eyes and drooping lips at the end
of a long neck.
A long way from the Andes.