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Old Time Trains


J.Walder/J.Riddell Collection

Standing at Scarlett Road near the west end of Lambton Yard, engine No. 536, a D6b "Tenwheeler' 4-6-0, is waiting for the signal to enter the yard and complete its trip from Orangeville on April 25, 1949.

Out of a total of 60 built between 1902 and 1904, only eight of the D6 class were left in service at this time. This class was a cosmopolitan group as they were built in the U.S.A., Scotland and Germany. No. 536 was one of the Scottish engines, built by the North British Locomotive Works of Glasgow in December 1903 and originally numbered 997. Although built as compounds, the D6's were later rebuilt as simple engines and during the renumbering scheme of 1905, No. 997 became No. 536. These engines looked very trim with their Stephenson valve gear which they retained throughout their careers.

Probably the greatest concentration of D6's was on the Dominion Atlantic in Nova Scotia, with the C.P.R. official classification book showing a total of 21 on that line in 1935 with others being added later. At one time, No. 502 was assigned to one of the D.A.R.'s top trains, The New Yorker, which operated between Halifax and Yarmouth. This name was embellished in gold leaf on the tender sides and also inscribed on a large sign which was mounted on the pilot beam under the smoke box, presenting a very striking appearance.

In Ontario, one place that boasted a small group of D6's was Orangeville and in 1947 I recall three of them, Nos. 509, 526, and 536, although there were probably others at various times. I had the dubious honour of firing Nos. 526 and 536 on Trains M715 and M716 between Orangeville and Walkerton. We were stalled in the snow with No. 536 for a week in March 1947 during one of the worst storms ever seen in that area.

Firing on a branch line mixed train was a leisurely and friendly experience. Granted you had a schedule to maintain but operations were more informal, with none of the pressure of the main line. Train M715 averaged about six cars with a passenger combine car and van on the tail end. I will always remember our conductor, a gentleman by the name of Harry "Smitty" McLean, who was immaculate in his passenger uniform. The conductor of The Dominion never looked finer!
The reason I was called for this run was because the regular fireman, Andy Markel, had booked off for a weekend and he was one of the few remaining "permanent" firemen still active at that time. Many years ago a fireman could turn down promotion and remain in that position, holding down relatively easy jobs, but this system was eventually abolished and promotion became mandatory.

Veteran No. 536 met its end at Angus on May 15,1953 leaving No. 526 as the only survivor of the class. No. 526 ended its days on the Walkerton run and was scrapped at Angus on October 28,1955. One of its builders plates rests in my collection.


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