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CN & VIA Cavalier

Canadian National operated an overnight train between Montreal and Toronto, consisting usually of two sleeping cars, including a day niter car and four coaches. There was also a snack bar and lounge.[i] This train facilitated morning business meetings, allowing a same day return. One of the sleeping cars carried on to Port Huron, Michigan, as part of the Maple Leaf train.

The Cavalier was cut by the Mulroney Progressive Conservative government in November of 1989, as part of $500 million dollar reduction in funding for Via Rail Canada over four years.

The Cavalier moved at a leisurely schedule, taking nearly eight hours for the trip in comparison with the Turbo’s four and a half hours (1980): “the Cavaliers meandered along the Kingston Sub. Nos 58 and 59 often deadheaded equipment, and hauled CN and VIA private cars on the tail-end. It was not uncommon for the trains to be met at Kingston station by police cars and/or ambulances, likely due to a combination of the late hour, alcohol and whatever transpired before boarding the train at 23:35!”[ii]

A personal recollection: “I traveled on the Cavalier a few times in the 1970s when I was living in Montreal and wanted to attend events or visit friends in Toronto. It allowed a person to maximize a weekend by taking the overnight train. I remember going to see the Tutankhamen exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and sleeping very little as the train jostled me in my berth. I also tried to get the reading light to work, but ended up blowing a fuse that put all the lights out in my car for the entire night. One did not usually arrive in rested condition.”[iii]

 

[i] Patrick C. Dorin, The Canadian National Railways’ Story. Hancock House Publishers; Saanichton, British Columbia, 1975, p. 33

[ii] tracksidetreaure.blogspot.ca

[iii] Laurence Grant

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