Polar Bear Express Arrival in Moosonee, Ontario

By: Lloyd Mize

This continues the description of our train ride from Cochrane, Ontario to Moosonee, Ontario. The Polar Bear Express runs during the summer months with a train connecting the two cities during the remainder of the year. Ontario Northern Rail Road is the only transportation connecting these two cities as there are not roads.

The last fact of significance about the track between Cochrane and Moosonee is that the bridges coming into Moosonee were considered "upside down." An interesting term because the supporting structure for the bridge is on top of the bridge instead of being underneath, therefore they are called "upside down." If there were supports underneath the bridge, melting ice in the spring would destroy them. On each side of these bridges I could see the supporting structures about 4 or 5 feet in height. There were several small bridges we passed over which are upside down.

During the ride we had seen shacks were people lived but they were scattered. Nearing Moosonee one could tell that the population was increasing although Moosonee has only 3500 residents. Moose Island Factory is a different town which we will visit tomorrow. Tax's were abundant, waiting to take riders to their destination.

We are in Moosonee, Ontario, Canada! This is the farthest north we have ever been. As it was raining we escaped into the train station. It is a small waiting area for the return trip. Checking my tickets, I found the name of the bed and breakfast where we are staying. A small sign said it was a five minute walk. Off we went. The rain was not bad and had slowed by the time we arrived. Welcoming us at the door, the owner was surprised we had walked as a taxi had been commissioned to carry three couples staying here. All were arriving by foot power!

It is a modern, quaint little home, built for guests. One couple is from Illinois, the other resides near Toronto. After introductions and finding our room we were ready to explore. No longer raining we walked the dirt roads to the river, where we caught up with the other two couples. My wife and I had lagged behind to pull on a second sweat shirt, one with a hood. I remembered our jackets about 20 or 30 miles after we left? They are hanging in our closet at home.

One couple wanted to purchase tickets for the excursion tomorrow. Asking about dinner one couple had a recommendation of a restaurant from the owners of the bed and breakfast. During our exploring a man was outside, and I asked him about where to eat. He identified us as tourists because it had not been too long since the train arrived and we were just walking around seeing the sights. His recommendation was for the same restaurant. So, it is settled.

Separating from the others we visited the local grocery and merchandise store. Weight for the meat is expressed in kilograms although the prices didn't seem extreme. I stopped by the train for pictures as it was waiting for the return trip to Cochrane. Ending our walking around town we visited with the owner while I stood by the wood heater.

One weather website, wundeground dotcom shows the temperature as 51 "F". We felt it all! Whenever the owner expects a full house (4 or so rooms) she will fax the grocery in Cochrane with her order. Train shipping costs added to the bill still are less than local prices. To go to the mall the journey begins on this same train. The mall is in Timmins, about 60 or so miles from Cochrane. During the winter an "ice road" allows them access to points north. A foot of water is actually poured on the existing ice and allowed to freeze, making the ice road. Summer thaws prevent that luxury.

You have my permission to reprint and distribute this article as long as it is distributed in its entirety, including all links and copyright information. ? Lloyd Mize 2007

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