||July 16, 2010
Railways in the Old Days
I recently mentioned my book My Childhood in the Bush, a
book about the early days at Brent on the CNR Algonquin Route.The book was
recently reprinted because of a new exhibit this summer in Brent. Among many
other things book describes homes for workers and their families in boxcars
temporarily adapted as accommodations there and in various other stops. The
cover of the Brent book shows one of the boxcar homes and there is a drawing of
its interior as described by the lady who lived there. There were several other
such “houses”in Brent – a couple of which were made by joining 2 boxcars for
||The boxcar school car at the Capreol Railway
Museum. Manager Kirsti Colman chatting with visitor.
Children at Brent later went to school in a railcar adapted
as a classroom. The classroom on wheels stayed for a short period and left
homework for the students and came back later after visiting other stops. There
were several of these schools on wheels in Northern Ontario. The idea was
developed by a teacher Fred Sloman who lived and taught for 40 years in a school
car that travelled from Capreol to Folyet north of Sudbury. He and his wife
raised 5 children through high school in the school car. Over 1,000 children
graducated from this “school”. When he retired he moved back to his hometown of
Clinton Ontario where a park was named after him and his school car was
refurbished and located there as a museum (see
www.schoolcar.ca/history.html for details). A book School on Wheels
describing the school car was published in 1982. Actor Gordon Pinsent stared in
a TV movie about a railcar teacher and he visited Clinton and met the Sloman’s.
Capreol Rail Museum
When we reprinted the Brent book we were aware of a boxcar
home at the Capreol Railway Museum as well as a replica of a Sloman school car.
I recently visited the Museum 35 kilometres north of Sudbury and met with
Manager Kirsti Colman who gave me a tour of this remarkable facility. The photos
show the bedroom of the boxcar home and the boxcar school. It is next to the CNR
rail line and also has an engine and many other pieces of rail equipment.
||Bedroom of boxcar home at Capreol Museum. D. Mackey Photos.
The site also has the area heritage museum on the property
located in a building that was once the home of the local CNR depot
Superintendent. Others lived there until it became a museum in 1997. It has an
active board and artifacts in every room. The displays on lumbering and mining
were of special interest.
There is also a bookstore and a Tea Room. I picked up a copy of the School on
Wheels book. The school car has a lot of Sloman memorabilia because as noted
Capreol was one of his stops. For further information log on to
www.NorthernOntarioRailroadMuseum.ca. A photo of the Museum building
is shown plus hours and location of the museum.
For train buffs or history buffs it is an ideal day trip full of interesting
insights. Phone (705) 858-5050 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org . Sudbury has several excellent locations to visit
including the Science Centre on the way.
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