Engine 49 (Don.C.)

          Welcome to Don Charbonneau's Share Your Favourite Train Story Page


Interview # 1 with Peter Domich

Peter Domich Interview # 2 "Moose rings bell

Train Stories

Fishing is Good! 

I've been busy with my new guiding service....the walleye fishing has been excellent!
I will be returning into the recording studio with Rusty MCcarty some time this month and we should have the new train stories cd almost completed by the middle of August. I will be posting a couple of the new "Train songs" soon.
Don Charbonneau

Train Songs 

Just started recording the "Train Stories" CD and still looking for more stories. Here are the lyrics to "Engine 49". I'll start posting the songs as the final mix is completed.

Engine 49

I grew up in a sawmill town
Just a whistle stop on the CPR
Freight trains highballing in the night
Rattling around this boy’s dreams
My grandfather Nan was a watchman
He worked for the lumber mill
Near the railway line
He’d take me on his rounds
And tell me stories
About his trains, horses
And engine 49

Old 49 coming down that line
Old 49 coming down that line
Old 49 always on time


Old 49 coming down that line
Old 49 coming down that line
Old 49 always on time

That was a long long time ago
I still see that old engine in my mind
She’s left behind
Memories from another time
You’ll find her now
In some town down this
Railway line

Old 49 coming down that line
Old 49 coming down that line
Old 49 always on time.

Poem for Peter Domich by a Train traveler. 

Railroad conductor Peter Domich loved his days working for the Algoma Central Railway and left an impression on a number of passengers including a couple of writers. Here is a poem written by a passenger / writer who was impressed by this railroad man. This was written by a writer who canoed the Sand River to Superior on a yearly basis. Peter couldn't remember the author's name but will try to find it when he get's back home to the Sault.


He was on board the Algoma Central
the day we left Hearst,
But I’m not sure my meeting
him there was my first
because he looked like the man
who some five years before
had taken my ticket
out of Frater’s North door.

As I watched him meticulously
fill out his reports,
account for the passengers,
give out his retorts,
I wonder if he
was really Santa in disguise
with his mustache and broad smile
and a twinkle in his eyes.

He lives in Hawk Junction,
three hours from the Sault
where he starts morning runs
with his Algoma crew,
A man of raw wisdom,
Glad tidings and wit
A spirit of the legacy
That the frontier has writ.

The trip norh, in his absence
Last nearly all day.
We weren’t eager to return
After so short a stay
Our bodies, our minds,
Not accustomed to the hours
Of riding past Sand River
‘midst the cattail and flowers.

Not eager were we,
To be again on the rail,
We’d thought about posting
Ourselves through the mail
But quick we were pleased
When this man they called Pete
Was walking the aisle
And sitting down in a seat.
We rode three hundred miles
Through the wilderness heaven,
And he must have walked
At least three hundred seven
As he chatted and humored
And called riders by name
And made numerous trips
to the baggage car game.

We saw where he’d lived
with his father by the track
we listened to the tales
of his boyhood, but his knack
for telling a joke
and playing tricks with a deck
kept the hours flying by
and the pain from my neck.

At the Sault we departed
With a “ thanks” no goodbye,
Perhaps words unspoken
Leaves more room in the sky
For dreams of returning
To the Algoma Line
And another day with Pete

Train Babies 

When I was born my family lived in a logging camp in Regan and then Eaton up the ACR.

When the women were near ready to give birth they would take the train down to Sault Ste. Marie and return with their baby. Sometimes they waited too late.

I wonder how many children were brought home from the hospital this way?

submitted by: Bobbi Shaughness

Close Call in the caboose at mile 99 

From Randy K.

Mileage 99

I grew up in Marathon, attended University in southern Ontario from 79 to 84. Most of the time we students from many Lake Superior communities took the VIA passenger train south and north to get to or from school. There were some good parties on the train, I remember having drinks in the baggage car with a one-armed man who looked after the baggage car. Sometimes the Conductor would put all of the partying students( Nipigon, Red Rock, Schreiber, Terrace Bay, White River) in one coach car and lock the doors. At Christmas time there would usually be 20 or 25 students on the train.

As you may or may not be aware, a westbound Montreal train and a westbound Toronto train would be put together in Sudbury. This usually left enough time for a couple or three beers to be consumed at the Lido, which was across the street from the train station. During one trip from Toronto to Marathon I overheard the following conversation in the bar car north of Sudbury:

The story was from a retired Conductor( had a free rail pass), from Montreal who was westbound. He recounted a story of being a Conductor during WWII on a westbound trip. During the trip west of Foleyet the Conductor struck up a conversation with two travelling soldiers. One expressed an interest of riding in a caboose, something that he'd always wished for as a boy. At that time, a caboose used to be attached to the rear of passenger trains. The Conductor said that at the next stop( White River), he'd let the two soldiers ride in the caboose. At White River the Conductor and the two soldiers boarded the caboose along with the brakeman. The four men took seats in the upper part of the caboose( not sure of the proper name), with the Conductor and brakeman facing the engine, and the two soldiers facing the rear. As they reached Mileage 99( Jackfish), the brakeman noticed a chain hanging down over the passenger cars( chain was for the water spout or coal I think), he yelled, jumped up and he and the Conductor grabbed the two soldiers and threw them down. The chain tore the top off of the caboose.

Jackfish was a spot that had a wharf on Lake Superior for offloading coal for locomotives. I'm not sure when Jackfish was shutdown. I knew exactly where Mileage 99 was since I had visited there with my Dad when I was young, we'd go looking through the old fallen-down houses, some people found old photo negatives from the '30's. When I went to Jackfish in the 70's, the water tower( concrete structure) was still standing. Some people turned these homes into summer camps( or cottages, depending upon where you're from in Northern Ontario).


More on Marathon Train Wreck / Whiskey barrels and three piece suits! 

Marathon Train Wreck Winter 77/78

On the same train wreck, I think in winter of 77/78, which was just about a mile west of Heron Bay, were wooden barrels of uncut booze, small B& W TV's. As well, there were men's 3-piece pin-striped suits, brown, blue, black, and one other colour. A few fellas picked up suits, put them on, went into the bar at Heron Bay and started shooting pool. A lot of the boys graduating that year from Grade 12 were wearing their "Track Wreck Suits." I know a school mate who got caught by CPR/OPP police trying to roll away a barrel of booze in the snow- he spent a night in jail, then they kicked him loose.

by Randy Knox

New CAPT Member 

I'm now officially a card carrying member of CAPT...Coalition Algoma Passenger Trains. This organiztion is totally devoted to train travel and the preservation of small railways...I'm proud to be a member.

Don Charbonneau

Interview with ACR Conductor Peter Domich 

I will be posting a series of video interviews I've just completed with former ACR conductor Peter Domich. Peter worked for the Algoma Central Railroad for a period of forty years spanning  from 1955 to 1995. He lived in Hawk Junction when he worked for the railroad. Upon retirement, Peter moved to Sault Ste.Marie  but still has a log cabin in the village of Hawk Junction. I interviewed Peter at his cabin in "Hawk" and at my home here in Wawa.

Peter is a natural story teller and his love for the railroad shines through on the stories he has tell. It was an honour and a privilege to have this gentleman share his railroad stories with me.
It will take me a few days to upload these stories-in-video but plan to have them all up within the next week.

Engine 49 

I grew up in a small railroad town in Northern Ontario and have many fond memories of trains. Our house was just across the street from the railroad station. My step grandfather " petit Nan" was a night watchman for the lumber mill which used the railroad to ship their lumber. The lumber and planer mill were located near the main CPR line in Cache Bay Ontario.
I used to accompany him on his rounds and remember him setting his watch by his favourite steam engine "Old Engine 49" ...was always on time.

This memory has found it's way into song!

Don Charbonneau

Book links to interesting stories on train travel 

Iive been reading some stories on train travel here in Northern Ontario and would like to create a link to the authors.
Do you have a book you would like to tell us about?...Please comment on this blog or send an email using the form on this page.

Title: The Chapleau Game Preserve /History,murder and other tales  by William.E.Mcleod

You can buy this book directly from the author  wemcleod@sympatico.ca 
I got my copy at the Michipicoten Library here in Wawa. 

Title: De Big Shot Train by Robert Cuerrier

This book is availble at the Sault Ste Marie Public Library and you can purchase directly from the author by contacting him at mbhfarm2@yahoo.ca 

Here's one my wife found at the Michipicoten Library. It has quite a photo history with washouts and train wrecks! I did a search on the net and found that the author has several train related books. I'm not sure if they are still in print...best place to check is your local library.

Title: "The Algoma Central Railway Story" / by author: Dale Wilson.


Join my newsletter