Vantage Points Flashback ~ Mountainside
Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear David Neufeld's audio recording of this story.
Welcome to Vantage Points Flashback. We highlight personalities, places and opportunities in history – stories that shape us as a region. Thank-you municipal councils of Southwest Manitoba and MB Heritage for your support.
Hi. My name's Blaise. I'm a pot belly stove on a Canadian National Rail-line. I'm important. Really! Don't be chuckling. Without me, this country line would be a bust. Cream and eggs would freeze. And the fellas running the train would eat cold lunch.
Special how it works. We stop at every village and siding from Greenwood Junction to Deloraine. The rail car door creaks and a farm woman steps in with her cream can. She takes coal from the pile, puts it in, lights it and steps out, leaving the cream, and a fire in my belly.
At the next siding, a kid steps in with a box of eggs, sets them down, adds more coal, the door closes. By the time we get to Wakopa, I've got enough to feed a threshing crew, and I'm pretty warm from all the attention.
At Deloraine the farm goods are taken out and sent down that “other” rail line to a creamery and grading station. We then turn around going east stopping at all the sidings again, with passengers and freight towards Winnipeg.
When the train's moving, it's dark in here. Except, one special day. On a return trip.
It was a crisp Fall day. We had a load of goods from Winnipeg for the Mountainside store. Well, just west of Horton, the fellas saw a slough full of ducks. The train stopped. They started shooting, with guns they'd brought for this purpose. They did very well, stashing the birds in my car. We moved along and, my goodness, another slough with ducks! Excited? I should say! They totally forgot to close my car door.
Hot diggety! I saw Turtle Mountain bush in the background, stooked grain, and cows grazing nearby, geese flying and ducks falling from the sky. It was almost the best sight ever.
When we arrived at Mountainside, the store owner was worried. He had called Horton siding and learned we'd left long ago! As he unloaded his freight, he saw opened boxes of gun shells. Apparently, a couple of fellas had run out, so “borrowed” from the freight. It must have been sorted out in a friendly way. I didn't hear any yelling!
Early winter, that same year, we were again rolling into Mountainside from the east, again, running a bit late. The car door creaked open. I saw a calm, clear night. With the most brilliant full moon hanging over the mountain. The school, across the way, was all lit up from the inside. Just then, the very best thing ever happened.
Angelic voices drifted down the hill, echoing their sweet refrains. The children were practicing their Christmas concert. ‘Oh, holy night, the stars were brightly shining’. . . I learned that evening, about a whole new kind of warm. And it felt so very good.
'Mountainside' is based on stories in Vantage Points 3 and 4.
Vantage Points is a 5-book series of stories about the layers of history in Southwest Manitoba.
For more Vantage Points stories CLICK HERE!
Please learn about Turtle Mountain – Souris Plains Heritage Association and talk with us. Our website is www.vantagepoints.ca
See you later!
Turtle Mountain – Souris Plains Heritage Association