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The First Sleeping Car


Brantford Masonic Lodge

Have you ever wondered... Where the beautiful Officer chairs, Wardens pillars, bench seating and furniture came from in our Lodge? Have you ever thought... Who made them? They were made by 13 brethren of our Lodge (pictured above) in 1860!

Our Lodge furniture was carefully fabricated by these same brethren during their lunch breaks and on weekends, a true act of Friendship, Brotherly Love and charity to all of us who have followed. We will enjoy their labours for many more years. Please remember them when your next visit to Lodge is made more pleasurable by their efforts.

Dieu et mon droit (French for 'God and my right') is the motto of the Sovereign. The words were the military password chosen by King Richard I in 1198. The motto appears below the shield on the Royal Coat of Arms. The original is in the posession of Brant Lodge No.45 in Brantford.

(The following is an extract from the Toronto Star On Tuesday 17th March 1936, and Saturday March 22nd 1936)

Here, There, Everywhere

(By F. D. R.)

The Toronto Star Weekly devotes an editorial to "The First Sleeping Car" and quotes the following from the St.Catharine Standard

"In the book, 'Trains of Recollection', as told by D. B. Hanna to Arthur Hawkes, there is an interesting statement to the effect that the first Pullman car was built at Brantford for the Prince of Wales on the occasion of the visit to Canada of H.R.H., later King Edward the Seventh. In 1860. Pullman quickly copied the idea, secured a monopoly and became a multi-millionaire. There is a memorial in Brantford to the inventor of the telephone; there should be one to the forgotten inventor of the Pullman."

Continuing, the Star points out that Pullman built his first completely equipped car in 1863 at a cost of $18,000 and that the "Canadian car was built in 1859 at the Brantford shops of the, Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway Company. There is a picture of it in Reville's 'History of Brant County,' the distinguishing marks on the outside being a re- production of the Royal coat-of-arms at the centre, with the Prince of Wales' 'feathers' carved in wood at the top centre above." After quoting from the work mentioned, the Toronto paper adds:

"The Brantford History gives the names of thirteen men who built the car. No doubt the name of the man who conceived it is known. If it is true, as claimed, that this was the first sleeper in actual operation, there should, as suggested, be some memorial to that fact in the Telephone City."

That this then novel method for more comfortable night travel on trains originated in Brantford is just as certain as the inception of the telephone here, but in both instances our neighbors across the border make the absolutely untrue claim of priority.

The order for a special car to accommodate the future King on his visit to Canada in 1860 was placed with the Brantford shops in 1859 and the idea of introducing sleeping bunks was evolved in the designing department.

Thomas Burnley, whose son A. B. Burnley still resides here, had charge of the construction and the others employed on the job were A. Box, S. Gill, R. Holmes, W. Row-an, G. Clifford, F. Lundy, J. Nickelson, G. Couch, J. Hassall, J. Gibson and C. Penfold, while C. Lowes carved the feathers.

It was a picked lot of men who were entrusted with the task and they made such a good job of it that people from a wide area came to see the result of their labors.

One of these was George M. Pullman, who was then associated with the construction of frame railway depots in this part of Canada, and it is related that he manifested a particular interest in the novel idea of the sleeping arrangement.

It was in the same year (1859) that Pullman took out his first U. S. patent and the significance of that fact would appear to be obvious.

It is certain, and beyond any manner of dispute that Edward V1l, when Prince of Wales, and members of his entourage were the first to rest in bunks while traveling at night and that this pioneer "sleeper" was designed and built in Brantford. When the coach was ultimately dismantled Mr. Burnley secured the badge of the Prince


In this column, recent reference- was made to a special car constructed at the railway shops, then located here, for the Canadian visit, in 1860, of the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, and the fact emphasized that it possessed the first sleeping bunk accommodation ever recorded.

In response to requests for a description of other features of this historic production the following information is taken from a file of the Weekly Expositor of the period named.

The exterior of the car, which is 46 feet long by 10 feet wide, presents a splendid appearance. Each side is divided into five large panels, painted blue, and having sweeping moldings, edged with gold. In the centre panel is the Royal Arms, most exquisitely painted, and immediately over it the Coronet Of the Prince of Wales, elegantly carved, painted white, tipped with gold, the shield enriched with decorations in gold, and bearing the motto of the Prince of Wales, lch Dien.

The car has a double roof for the purpose of, thorough ventilation, the upper one being supported by beautifully cut gilt brackets. The window frames are made of handsome Canadian oak, and are richly varnished.

Each end panel is elegantly ornamented with an oval garter, containing the name of the Company, while the centre has "No. 1" inscribed upon it, in well executed, ornamental letters. The handrails are of burnished brass, and rest upon polished oak tracks, which, with the iron work, are painted with the utmost skill and elegance.

The inside of the car is chaste, tasteful and elegant, and must elicit the admiration and gratify the highly cultivated taste of the Prince and his suite. It is divided into three compartments, an ante-room 8 feet 6 inches. by 6 feet, a stateroom 28 feet by 8 feet 6 inches, and a retiring room, all furnished in the same style.

The first is the anteroom, intended for one or more of the Prince's attendants. It is provided with two handsome lounges, and two novel but prettily formed and painted refrigerators. The inner walls of the car from one end to the other, are composed of beautifully curled maple panels, set in black walnut frames, surmounted by a neat and highly ornate cornice, edged with gold, and decorated with a light colored variegated head lining.

The window curtains are of fine Canary silk, mounted on patent spring rollers and having silk tassels, by the slightest pull of which one can raise or lower the curtains at pleasure, and with the most perfect ease.

The ventilation has been well provided for. The two roofs allow a full free current of air to pass between them and over the patent, double-coned drum ventilators, of which there are two in the stateroom, and one in the anteroom. The double cone prevents any dust or sparks from descending into the cars, through the funnels of the ventilators, and is a most admirable arrangement.

On the lower panel of the door of the stateroom opening into the anteroom, is a well-executed representation of Eton College, and on each side in the paneling of the partition, an elegantly painted landscape; on the door opening into the retiring room, Is a representation of Windsor Castle, and a landscape on each side panel.

In each partition of the stateroom are four large mirrors, substituted for panels these, we need not say, add much ,beauty of the room. The car is lighted by a number of silver plated carriage lamps made with spiral springs.

The furniture of the state-room consists of two cabriole lounges made of black walnut and spring cushions, covered with cloth; a marble topped centre table, and two marble topped side tables at each end of the room, mounted with elegant mirrors.

Four small chairs and two large chairs, made of the same material as the lounge. This furniture is all remarkably chaste in design, beautifully finished, and elegantly carved.

The retiring, or dressing room, is furnished with a very handsome marble-topped wash- stand with sunk gilded china basin, which is supplied with soft water from a tank on the top of the car. A beautiful dressing table, surmounted with a very elegant mirror, completes the furniture of this room.

The floor of each room is covered with a richly variegated and costly Brussels carpet. Every part of the car was made by the artisans employed at the depot, and the wood of which it is composed was all cut in Canadian forests. The Prince's car may, therefore, be claimed as a purely Canadian production.

It is greatly admired by all who have seen it and in the elegance, richness, and perfection of its workmanship, we doubt whether it has ever been equaled in America. It affords a specimen of mechanical and artistic skill worthy the admiration of Royalty and it is alike creditable to the workmen by whose skill it was constructed, and to the Company, under whose auspices it was built. To the above it can be added that when the car was ultimately dismantled, Henry Yates acquired one of the marble topped tables and other furniture, and these articles are still in, the possession of a member that family.

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