THE D.A.R. – “WHAT A PITY IT IS GONE” (March 12/99)

I occasionally refer to Marguerite Woodworth’s Dominion Atlantic Railway history in this column. Published in 1936 and never reissued as far as I know, the book is difficult to find and commands a higher than average price for used, out-of-print books. If you own a copy and will part with it, don’t let it go for less than $50; the going price at used book stores is slightly higher than $50. depending on condition.

If you are interested in reading Woodworth’s D.A.R. history there is a copy in the Wolfville public library; Woodworth’s book should also be available at the Acadia University library.

I mention the Woodworth book because of a letter received earlier this winter from Hugh Kinsman of Bobcaygeon, Ontario. Mr. Kinsman was looking for Woodworth’s history and I directed him to the Odd Book in Wolfville where I had seen a copy that was in excellent condition.

When I replied to Mr. Kinman’s letter I asked if he was a former employee of the D.A.R. and wondered if he had any memories he would like to share with readers of this column. In a second letter Mr. Kinsman said that while he was not a former employee he would have been proud to have been associated with the railway.

“I’m afraid that my experiences would hardly merit the interest of your readers,” Mr. Kinsman wrote. “For instance, few would care that we virtually set our clocks by the train whistle at the Sheffield Mills station and that the engineer waved to us kids as he passed within a few feet of Canning school.

“Two of my cousins married D.A.R. men – one of them to Ben Patten and the other to Joe Dickie. I’ve heard Ben and Joe referred to as ‘Spic and Span’ relating to their housekeeping in the D.A.R. caboose! Besides Ben and Joe, there are several D.A.R. men I knew through their sons – Howe Harris, Biscuit Corning, Herbert, Ritchie, Crosby, Banks, Boyle.”

Mr. Kinsman concluded by saying he was sorry because he didn’t know more about the D.A.R. “I’m afraid we took it for granted we’d have this dependable and convenient service forever. What a pity it is gone!”

The touch of nostalgia in Mr. Kinsman’s letter is, I’m sure, experienced by many people when the topic of the D.A.R. comes up. Like many people in this area I grew up when the railroad was in its heyday and I certainly took it for granted. My old newspaper route began in the morning when the train arrived from Halifax. After the bundles of daily papers were tossed on the station landing and distributed to the waiting paperboys I paid a dime to ride the train to Aldershot Camp.

I took my morning train ride to sell newspapers at Aldershot Camp for several summers. Later, after the run was discontinued, I regretted not riding the train north to the end of the line at the Kingsport wharf. A number of boys in the neighborhood camped, fished and dug clams at Kingsport and Medford every summer, using the train to tote the tons of gear necessary for youthful excursions.

If I remember correctly the train carrying the newspapers from Halifax arrived in Kentville after 10 o’clock. It must have been at least 10 o’clock or later because when I went through high school at KCA, students came from the Canning area on an early morning train. I never heard that the Halifax train running north to Aldershot and the morning train carrying the KCA students to Kentville ever met head on.

Like many Valley residents I have many pleasant memories of the train; and like most I never thought that one day the runs would stop and the rails would be torn up. As Hugh Kinsman said, what a pity.

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