Monday 31 October 2011

White River ON

Today marks a milestone of sorts. I have had 5000 page views. Who would have thought that so many people could stumble on this blog. Thanks to those that stumble on a regular basis.  

White River ON.

Well, today we woke up to a light snowfall. This is to be expected at this time of year, but it would have been nice for the Trick-or-Treaters if the weather had held off just one more day. Sure, it is better than the 30 below that we have had in the past, but then I guess that we have to take things as they come.

I knew it was just a matter of time before this reached us, because about a week ago I saw that White River ON got a dump of snow.  Normally I don't pay attention to any place that is mentioned on the weather channel, but I know something about White River. White River has a population of 841 and being a CP Rail town, it only became accessible by car in 1961. It was a one industry town until Domtar closed up shop in  2007. Most people actually know something about White River, because in August 1914, a trapped Black Bear cub named Winnie was sold to Captain Harry Colebourn in White River, who named it after his hometown, Winnipeg. See, you are smarter that you thought.

I know of White River for an entirely different reason. Back in 1969, my cousin Simon was working planting trees in White River for Domtar. I had had enough of working for the door manufacturing plant where my mom worked. I had done that for a few summers, and I really hated each and every job that I did there, so when Simon said that I could get a job planting trees if I could just get there. Done deal! All that I needed to know was where and when. Simon said to come to White River anytime.

I had never heard of White River, but the guy selling tickets at the train station seemed to know where it was. This was pre internet days, so there was really no way of finding out anything about it, short of going there. My dad drove me downtown and I told him that I would see him at the end of the summer. I got on the train and my mind was filled with visions of the Orient Express, dining cars, dressing for dinner and staterooms with pleasant smiling coloured porters collecting your shoes and clothing for a shine and press. That might be the way things are done in the Orient, but on the CP night (mare) train there were just surly employees that didnt even acknowledge you were alive. The CP dining car was an old lady selling stale sandwiches, bottles of pop, bags of chips and chocolate bars with white spots. This was before the best before dates.

I had hoped for stimulating conversation on the trip, but soon realized that the only stimulating conversation would be if I talked to myself, and quite frankly by this point in the trip I wasnt talking to me. There were five evil looking nuns, a couple of old men that I am assuming were hog farmers because normal humans couldnt smell that bad. I walked the entire train and not only didnt I see elegant ladies and gentlemen, but there wasnt a dining or even a bar car. I asked one of the surly workers just how long it would be till we got to White River. He looked at me like I was on the end of the finger he had just pulled out of his nose, and walked away.

I tried the Lunch lady and she told me it is a seventeen hour trip. I checked my watch, and we had been on the rails for 45 minutes. SHIT! I sat staring out of the window for most of those seventeen hours, wondering how they could find a route this boring. It couldnt be by chance.
Finally, after what seemed like days I was dropped off in White River. What a dump! It had about three businesses and the rest of the population must have been subterranean. I went in the bar/general store/gas station/motel/bus terminal to ask how I would get to the tree planting place. The woman told me that it was about forty miles down the highway, then I would need to take a right at a green barn and it was about another forty miles down a dirt road.

Do they ever come to town? I asked.

Yes, about once a week and they were just here yesterday.

I thanked her and went outside to take stock of the situation. I noticed a huge thermometer that said Welcome to White River the Coldest Spot in Canada, -72 degrees.

This is what they figure will draw tourists? I made one of the few decisions that I have made in my life, I went back in the bar/general store/gas station/motel/bus terminal and asked when the next train to Toronto was. She said tomorrow morning and I asked if I could get a room for the night. Not surprisingly they had vacancies. She said when the tree planters came to town they were booked solid. I told her that if the tree planters were in town, I wouldnt need a room now would I?

The trip back to Toronto was quite possibly more boring than the trip out, if that were at all possible. The day after I got back, I called the door manufacturing plant and asked if there was a job that I could do for the summer. I told the guy that I had done pretty much every job and loved them all.

I can lie with the best of them

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