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By R.L.Kennedy



Doubling the grade is a time-honoured practice whereby a train that stalls unable to climb a steep grade leaves some of its cars, usually sitting right on the mainline, takes the first part up the grade to a siding (short stub-ended doubling sidings were sometimes placed at the top of a bad grade) and then returns for the rest of the train. Great care has to be taken when the train has been left standing on the mainline especially at night. It has sometimes happened that the returning engine runs into its own train!

Some years ago, I overheard a crew that had arrived in Toronto Yard (CPR) off a Fleetwood Turn say that they had to double Mary Anne's. NOTE: Fleetwood Turns ran for a year or two in the 1970's to haul gravel out of a new pit operation at Fleetwood on the since abandoned Bobcaygeon Subdivision to Highland Creek Sand & Gravel in West Hill, Ontario, on the Scarborough Pit Spur off the Belleville Sub. just east of Toronto Yard.

This remark stayed with me and I began to look into the subject with the result that I discovered that while many older railroaders still recognized the name Mary Anne's, the origin was lost on them. Indeed, as more and more little places disappear officially from the timetables when the stations are closed and sidings removed, some places that "never were" are still remembered and referred to. These locations although no longer in operating timetables are still well known to railroaders, the reason being to be better able to identify some place along the line. One such place is Mary Anne's, between Mileage 134 and 135 of the former Peterborough Subdivision (now the Havelock Sub.). This was the original Montreal-Toronto mainline (legally the Ontario & Quebec Railway) and a roller coaster of upgrades and downgrades. Between Agincourt and Peterborough there is one grade beyond Cavan through Tapley east of Draneol and another west of Draneol before Manvers. This is Mary Anne's. Westbound trains unable to make the grade here have to double Mary Anne's and go through to Pontypool.

This story dates back into the early 1900's. Mary Anee was an old woman who lived beside the track in the vicinity of the westbound grade. She had a cow, just one, and one day it wandered out onto the CPR right-of-way as cows often do, and along came a freight train which struck and killed it, as trains often do! The CPR flatly denied any liability and refused to pay any compensation to the woman for the hapless bovine. Immediately thereafter, westbound trains began to encounter a worse than normal battle for the grade. Each assault was marked by much slipping and stalling. Examination of the rails disclosed that they had been well-soaped! This continued and sharp-witted CPR officials suspected Mary Anne. However, she had the advantage of being on home ground and repeated attempts to catch her at her dirty (soapy?) deed were useless. Finally, sensing that they were loosing the battle for the hill in more ways than one, the CPR gave in and paid for the cow. Things quickly returned to normal and trains only had their usual problems in climbing the grade at this point, steel against steel, minus the soap! Although the matter resolved itself, the notoriety remained and from that time on the grade came to be known as Mary Anne's.

DOUBLING SIDINGS One such doubling siding was located on the MacTier Sub. at Mileage 32.6 and held 24 cars. The switch was located at the south end and was used by southbound trains between Tottenham 35.4 and Palgrave 31.3.


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