I have always bemoaned the slow, inexorable vanishing of Canadian trains. Steam-powered railways were integral to the building of Canada as a nation. Trains were the arteries connecting the heart of our country with its limbs, opening settlement in the west. But everyone drives now – there are highways and (if we’re lucky) buses, where once there were only trains. At the very least, I think, cities should have some link with the transportation of their past. St John’s, NL, for instance, has a lovely train museum where you can read about the history of the trains, and wish they still ran. The train route is now a hiking trail.
Quebec has taken an innovative approach to one of its historical train routes. It has converted it to a lovely, easy biking trail. The P’tit train du Nord is a 200 kilometre stretch which runs through the Laurentians north of Montréal.
Even a non-biker (like me) can easily bike through stretches of it, or, if you do not wish to bike, there are abundant hiking trails and pretty bed-and-breakfasts to choose from. I’d go back to Nominingue, just for the delicious food at the Auberge l’Ile de France. Or to Labelle, to stay at La Gare, an inn converted from a 1924 train station. We were the only guests when we arrived late one night, and it was both eerie and wonderful. There is a caboose outside with the lamp lit, and a luggage rack full of old suitcases, and it is all rather ghostly.
I also want to record that in Nominingue I had a perfect writing hour. I know other people have perfect writing DAYS but that’s too much for me to hope for. Anyway, I had this perfect hour in which I finished a chapter that was just exactly the way I wanted it to be. I have now hit the 40k mark on my sequel! Scary middles starting now…