Cochrane, Ontario, Where the Polar Bear Express Begins

By: Lloyd Mize

We checked into the Station Inn in Cochrane a day early because we did not see as many bears or moose as we wanted while in Chapleau. The hotel rooms are on the second floor of the train station with a restaurant on the first. We were sitting in the restaurant about 8:15 in the morning when an announcement was made that the Polar Bear Express was approaching on the far track. The schedule for departure is at 9 am. Back in our room at 8:45 I opened the window to look at the train. Last night I had seen several trains with three or four passenger cars and a dinning car attached, so I expected to see a train about the same size.

Today is the first day for the Polar Bear Express to begin its two month summer schedule of everyday except Monday. I could see the train parked on the far track but way down. It soon began moving toward the station. I counted 14- or 15 cars including 2 or 3 dinning cars, a baggage car, and another at the end, which I would not call it a caboose, but it very well could have been. A workman switched the tracks and it started to back up going on the 2nd track away from us. After a few minutes it moved forward with two additional cargo cars on the end. Pulling forward the workman again switched the track and the train backed up, but now it was too far away for me to see.

The hotel is about 15 or 20 feet from the track. There is a 1 foot yellow line for passengers to stand behind. Many were waiting. It seems like it was taking the engineer forever to decide to move to the station.

Finally, we saw a train pulling in on the first track, but this one had several different cars behind the engine. Two flatbed cars with two automobiles each attached, then the passenger cars started arriving. It was the Polar Bear Express. My watch showed the time as 9:06. Several more minutes passed before the passengers were allowed to board. A young girl, 5 or 6, saw us and we waved. She pointed and we kept waving. She disappeared. Later, she returned to the window and waved. In just a few more minutes the train started to pull away and we exchanged waves to the little girl with her dad looking on. Can you tell I am excited? Just wait until we are passengers tomorrow!

We had to do laundry and spoke with the lady there who was collecting American quarters from each state. My wife always brings a roll of quarters so we will not have to get change when we do laundry. Going through our quarters, the woman was happy to find four to add to her collection.

Just last night, she told us, they had made a trip to the Cochrane garbage dump counting 12 black bears while there. Like alligators in the South, Black Bears are a problem in Cochrane. Laws protect the black bears. We would have gone but the garbage dump was closed that day.

After lunch we are going to the Polar Bear Habitat. Feeding time is 2. Will be there!

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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