Glistening in the morning sun, brand new General Motors
units Nos. 1407 and 1904 are seen ascending the Hornby Dip, eastbound,
on March 22, 1954. These units had just been released from General Motors'
London plant and are seen on the head of the second section of the "hot"
Windsor to Wells River, Vermont, manifest freight, No. 902. This train
handled Chicago to Boston to New York merchandise, but when a second
section ran, it usually terminated at Toronto, with the first section
handling the through cars.
The "Hornby Dip" crests, eastbound, just west of the old Hornby
station site. Hornby was a station stop as far back as the 1870's, when
the line was built as the Credit Valley Railway. A rural station stop
for the CPR for many years, it still had a part-time agent in the mid-1930's,
when special stops were made to accommodate school children. When this
photograph was taken, the station was no longer in use but No. 21 stopped
for mail every day except Sundays. Disappearing in the early 1960's,
even the name was dropped from the time card of October 30, 1977, and
in September 1981, the line was equipped with CTC as far as Guelph Junction.
Through the years, many special trains have rolled these rails, one
of the more famous being Sir William Van Home's funeral train on September
14, 1915, enroute from Montreal to Joliet, Illinois, Van Home's birthplace.
Another, almost 21 years later, was the much publicized Rexall
Drug Company's display train which ran through on the evening
of August 12,1936, on its way from Detroit to Toronto. On a transcontinental
tour of the U.S.A. and Canada, the heavy 12 car, blue and white special
was hauled by the New York Central 4-8-2- "Mohawk"
No. 2873, which had been streamlined and converted to burn oil for this
Nos. 1407 and 1904 were classified by the CPR as DPA-17a and DPB-17a,
whereas General Motors' designations were FP9a and F9b, both being rated
at 1750 horsepower. The units were initially assigned to the Quebec
District, Smiths Falls Division, but later went to the Montreal Terminals
passenger power pool for the Montreal to Toronto to Vancouver service.
When VIA took over passenger service, it bought the remaining CP and
CN passenger units, acquiring No. 1407 on September 28, 1978, and this
unit is still in operation at the time of writing. It is possible that
she may become No. 6556 if she receives a future shopping. No. 1904
is still in service with CP Rail, having been renumbered as No. 4476
at Weston Shops on June 10, 1971 and reclassified as DFB-17a, and without
a steam generator which was removed in 1975.
During the early part of 1954 when the passenger diesels appeared at
the John Street roundhouse, the intention was to maintain the units'
steam generators there and a special portable boiler washing machine
was installed. However, decisions were changed almost daily at this
time and responsibility for the maintenance was given to Montreal. The
heyday of John Street was passing. W.H.N.Rossiter