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Memories of Ottawa West

by Bruce Chapman

D4 433 has arrived off #91, the Rigaud Wayfreight and will back over to the roundhouse where the crew will book off duty. This train left Ottawa West Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Rigaud Quebec, just inside the Quebec border from Ontario on the line to Montreal, and returned to Ottawa Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. When I started hanging around Ottawa West station about 1953, my uncle Ben Huntington was the regular engineer on this job with this engine, and that may be him in the cab for all I know. Addy Schwalm/Bruce Chapman Collection

D4 433 sits under the Wellington Street bridge at Ottawa West shop waiting in line to be serviced on the inbound track. It is probably a Saturday afternoon when the wayfreights, through freights and passenger locomotives all seem to arrive about the same time giving the hostlers headaches, plus, you can see the engine is blocking the west leg of the Prescott Subdivision main
line wye track leading to Ottawa West station. At this date of the mid-1950's, wayfreights would be arriving from Rigaud, Maniwaki, Waltham, Gatineau, Buckingham, St. Luc, Sussex Street, Prescott, the oil job from Ellwood, and Smiths
Falls. Plus there were day passenger trains arriving from Waltham, Maniwaki, Chalk River, Montreal on the north shore and the south shore, Prescott, and the two overnight passenger trains from Toronto. And yard engines also came in
for servicing at the end of their shift. Addy Schwalm/Bruce Chapman Collection

My uncle (father's brother) Benjamin John Huntington Chapman was a CPR locomotive engineer. In the family we called him Hunty, as that was the maternal side of the family. They had settled and gave their family name to Huntington Quebec. There was another brother in the 1870's who was a Methodist minister and preached up around North Bay. Anyway, Hunty had 3 kids; the oldest, Frank, turns 80 in June 2011 and lives across the street from me in Ottawa. There are two girls, Marion, about 75 and Gail, 72 or so. Anyway, none of them cared about the railway.

Ben took me to Ottawa West roundhouse one very snowy, stormy, blustery day in March 1953, I was all of 7 years old.
I went into the station at Bayview and Scott and warmed up, while Hunty was over at the shop getting his engine ready. He was heading out on the Rigaud (Quebec) wayfreight, which is about 80 miles east of Ottawa on the line to Montreal. And this engine 433 was the one that I saw him on every Saturday when he arrived for quite some time afterwards.

Frank told me that sometimes, on weekends, when Hunty got called off the list to go to Waltham when nobody else would go, Frank would go with his father and shovel coal in the D4 to help out the regular fireman. The 3 of them hardly talk to each other....a long-standing family feud, which concerned Hunty's passing in June 1960 at age 50 of a stroke...he was engineer on #265, the RDC from Ottawa to Chalk River. As they got to Carleton Place, he felt something was wrong. The alternate engineer, Don Henry, lived in Toledo Ontario, south of Smiths Falls. He'd drive up to Carleton Place, deadhead in on #260, take the train to Chalk, return next afternoon, deadhead back to Carleton Place and drive home. My uncle felt weak, and hollered at Don to come back...Don took over, they got Hunty into an ambulance and back to Ottawa, but he passed on that night. I still have the dispatch books from Ottawa West shop, and they have B. Chapman heading out on 265, but Don Henry's name over top.

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