Saturday, 5 October 2013

CNR and Oka Cheese

CNR and Oka cheese - is there a connection?

Actually there was.

What this following schedule does not show are all the station stops these trains made between Montreal and Deux-Montagnes. These trains (or others on the same schedule) also operated between Montreal and Deux-Montagnes Mondays through Fridays as part of the CNR weekday commuter service.

From the CNR October 27, 1974, system passenger time table

In 1972 and 1973 I was a summer student employed at the Montreal Gazette, when the Gazette was still at 1000 rue St. Antoine and a block or so from CNR's Central Station. For three months each summer I was one of the Monday to Friday regulars to and from Roxboro on these two trains.

What made these trains different is that they were diesel powered in part on the only CNR electric catenary route. The northbound 17:40 departure was diesel powered Mondays through Fridays whereas the southbound 08:50 arrival was diesel powered on Mondays only.

On Mondays, train 188 also carried a baggage car in spite of the the schedule footnote reading, "No checked baggage." 

The following schedule from CNR's employee time table reveals the reason the baggage car was not included in Train 187 on Fridays; on Monday mornings CNR dead-headed the equipment as Train 167 from Montreal to Grenville.

CNR's Grenville Subdivision schedule effective October 29, 1972

On those warm July and August Monday mornings, (only on the Mondays) by the time that over-crowded, standing room only train completed it's run through the Mount Royal tunnel to Central Station, the train would stink, I mean really reek and not from diesel exhaust. Curious, one Monday morning I finally walked up to the front of the train to find out what was being unloaded from the baggage car.

Much to my surprise, the cargo was cartons of Oka cheese on pallets. Need any more be said?

Trains 187 and 188 together with that baggage car may be long gone, but the cheese is still around today. Oka cheese is as popular as ever...and yes, it does stink a little...but it tastes good nonetheless.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum May 19, 2015

Someone actually took a photo! 

Photo credit and details: 
RS-3 3900 (ex CV 1859 one of two units transferred to CN 1/1958) Alco 80747 9/1954
Mount Royal, Tuesday 6/18/1963. Rod Peterson/Joseph Testagrose Collection

June 18, 1963. This diesel-hauled CN consist was identified as northbound Train 81 destined for Grenville. The location was CN Mont-Royal. Note that combine behind the RS-3! One can only wonder what type of freight would have been heading to Montreal in that combine the following morning. Cheese please!

The April 1962 schedule from CNR's public timetables.