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Ottawa Trip Report:

Ottawa Trip Report:




            In the fall of 2004, my sister attended her first year at Western University. She plays softball, and in the past, I have tagged along on her various softball tournaments. When she was at Western, her team was able to qualify for a tournament in Ottawa, Ontario. I decided to go down there by train on the Friday, ride around Ottawa on various buses, then the next day, I would take a mini-trip to Alexandria Ontario and back in an attempt to ride on VIA’s Renaissance cars. This is how the trip ended up:


October 22, 2004:


            I got down to Union station at 9:00 am, 30 minutes before my train, VIA train #42 was to depart. Soon, it was time to board. I was seated in an economy class LRC coach. I took a window seat on the left side of the train. I noticed a few tracks over was the Toronto-New York Maple Leaf. It was scheduled to leave 10 minutes after my train. The train left on time. One thing about this train was that for the first part of the trip, my train was coupled to the rear of VIA train 56 bound for Montreal. This is standard practice by VIA known as “J trains”.


            When we passed by the Toronto Transit Commission’s Greenwood subway yard, I took a picture of the rail grinder because it was powered by two former Gloucester class passenger cars which are my all time favorite subway cars.



            The train continued on, stopping at Guildwood, Oshawa, Cobourg, Belleville, and Kingston. I was expecting train 42 to separate from train 56 at Kingston, but I was wrong as the trains departed, still coupled. I figured the separation would be done at Brockville, which was the next station.


            East of Kingston, the train stopped because a CN freight train had gone into emergency ahead. We sat there waiting for the freight train to be fixed. VIA train 57 passed. Finally, we were on our way. Trains 56 and 42 were separated. After Brockville, we passed through Smith Falls, non stop, passing a CP yard. We stopped at VIA’s new Fallowfield station outside of Ottawa before we arrived in Ottawa late. Once I got off, I took a few pictures of the train before I headed into the station.




            When I entered the station, I asked if there were any lockers. I found out there weren’t any. I had to carry my backpack with me. I headed out to OC Transpo’s transitway which is a roadway intended for only buses. I saw a few GM fishbowl buses going the opposite direction than I was going. I got on a New Flyer D40 and rode to the Transit Centre where I transferred to another bus where I rode to the Billings Bridge mall where I got on 1977 Vintage fishbowl #7710. While on the bus, my dad called me. He was still a few hours away.



After I rode the bus a fair distance, I got off and rode another bus back to the transitway. I got on a bus that I rode to the O-train, which is similar to a light rail line, except the cars are diesel powered and they run on a lightly used CP branch line.



After I got off at the other end of the line, I took a photo of the car, then went back to the transitway and got on another OC Transpo fishbowl. After a long ride, I got off and took another bus to the O-train which I rode once again. After, I headed downtown.



Eventually, I returned to the Billings Bridge mall for dinner.  After I explored the mall, my dad showed up and we had dinner in the food court. After dinner, we drove back to our hotel, where I spent the rest of the evening.


October 23, 2004:


I woke up sometime after 9:00. I had breakfast at the hotel before I grabbed my backpack and headed out transit riding again. I knew I wouldn’t see any fishbowls. My first stop was another ride on the O-train.


After riding the O-train, I headed to a Wal-Mart where I had lunch at the McDonalds inside the store. After, I headed over to the St. Laurent bus garage, which is near the Chimo Hotel that my family had stayed at in a couple previous trips to Ottawa.


At the St. Laurent bus garage, I saw a retired fishbowl and an Orion 3. I thought that that Orion 3 was the last one in existence but would later learn that OC Transpo had an Orion 3 as part of their historical collection.



After I left the St. Laurent bus garage, I headed back to the train station to get on VIA train 38. I was expecting a train of Renaissance cars, but to my disappointment, train 38 had an F40PH and three LRC coaches. I hoped that train 39 would have the Renaissance cars as we left on time. The train stopped at Casselman. The stop was a quick one, and we soon arrived into Alexandria on time. I had 26 minutes to kill. I spent the time wandering between the station and the platform.


Finally, train 39 arrived. I was again disappointed to see that the train had LRC coaches. I boarded LRC coach #3332 and we were soon underway.


I was seated near a mother and her two young children. I watched them assemble a cardboard VIA train model. I gave them a few pointers and soon, I was having a conversation with them. One of the kids was a girl named Ruby. She pointed out how I was shouting into my cell phone because I was going out of range. At one point, the kids were crawling into a space intended for luggage, treating it like a fort. The conductor noticed it, but didn’t object.


We passed Casselman without stopping. 20 minutes outside of Ottawa, the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. There was an abandoned van left on the crossing ahead of us. At one point, Ruby asked me if I had a wordsearch book on me. I told her I didn’t.


Less than two minutes later, she asked if I was sure if I didn’t have a wordsearch book on me. I told her I was sure. Ruby’s mom said that they should have brought a wordsearch book with them.


Meantime, Ruby was still asking me if I was sure if I didn’t have a wordsearch book on me. She was even looking in my backpack for one. Even though she didn’t find one, she still kept asking me if I was sure I didn’t have one. At one point, Ruby said, “Are you sure you don’t have a wordsearch book, because my friend said that she didn’t have one when she really did.”


            By now, I was fed up with her constant questioning, and I finally snapped, “Well I’m not your friend!”


            Maybe in hindsight, I could have worded it differently, but still, while I’m typically good with kids, even I have a limit.


            Eventually, the van was moved, allowing us to go. Ruby and I were soon at peace. They gave me part of the cardboard VIA train because they didn’t want that part of the train.



            We arrived back into Ottawa late of course. Once I was in the station, I found some more cardboard VIA cars, I asked if I could take one, and the station employee who I asked said I could have one of the cardboard coaches. Ruby said goodbye to me. I then went to the Transitway and caught a bus back to my hotel. Once I got back to my hotel, I went out and took a ride on an STO bus before I walked back to the hotel.



October 24, 2004:


            I got up and walked to a nearby restaurant because I didn’t want to have breakfast at the same restaurant. I had some toast.


            After breakfast, I looked around the mall. I stopped at the HMV to look at videos. They happened to be playing the movie “The Day after Tomorrow” which had been released to video and DVD a couple weeks before.


            Once I had left the mall, I headed for the O-train once again. This time, I got off at the Carleton station to photograph the train going over the Ottawa River.



            After I photographed the O-train, I got back on board and rode to the southern most station where I rode a bus on the Transitway to the airport. Once I got to the airport, I explored the terminal and grabbed a donut and a can of Coke from a Tim Horton’s in the terminal.


            After I left the airport, I slowly made my way back to Billing’s Bridge mall. When I got off the bus, I took a couple more photos before I headed inside.



            My sister’s ball team was playing at a field nearby. The tournament was almost over. I explored the mall. Just before the end, I bought some things from the Zeller’s in the mall.


            Once the game was over, my sister’s team got onto a chartered coach bus for the trip back to London. My parents and I drove back home. We made a stop at a rest stop. While there, I was waiting in line and I noticed a family with some younger kids. One of them was holding a toy gun which at times was pointed at the cashier.


“Great…” I thought.


After we left the rest stop, the trip home was mostly uneventful. We arrived home around 9:00 pm.




This trip was interesting. I wish that I was able to get on VIA’s Renaissance coaches on either VIA train 38 or 39. Meeting Ruby who constantly asked if I had a wordsearch book was somewhat a mixed blessing. Until next time…