All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway Workers

Making It Work

Wayne Greenland - Last Human Remains

Wayne tell about the last human remains transported by the railway

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Length: 4.01 Min
File Size: 15.8 MB

I'll tell ya an instance now of how the Newfoundland Railway or the CN decided not to transport any human remains on its equipment. Prior to 1969, CN transported human remains all over Newfoundland where the railway made connection to the coastal boats. In approximately 1973, I was working at the ticket office that evening when a funeral home deposited to our care human remains going to a South Coast port down around La Poile somewhere or Harvies Harbour around the South West Coast.

The procedure is that we would charge them what we called a double to blue rate fare. We ran a system of red, white and blue fares depending on which day you went and that would come to approximately $24 dollars to ship these remains out. Well in 1973, we had no passenger trains. There were no coaches out of St. John's on the freight train. So what we would do is contact dispatching who would give us a car number, usually at this stage of game a box car. So the baggage man went out and with the help of the funeral home would put the remains in the car. But either prior to that or just after the yard shepherd came down on the other side of the track reading car numbers and as the door was still open on the one side - it was only partially one seal applied to the door. He reported it as empty to dispatching. They figured then that we didn't need it and erased that it was in use and the train went on.

So when it got to Clarenville sometime early the next morning, prior to getting to Clarenville, they were instructed to drop this empty car off at the siding of Come by Chance. So the remains now were on the siding in Come By Chance. So a few days later the coastal boat that made connections in Port aux Basques with the freight train came into this south coast port near Port aux Basques and on the wharf there was this van and there was all kinds of people waiting and they inquired Awe're here to look for our father@. And they must belong, you know, to some sort of organization and there=s no sign of him. The crew didn't know anything about it. They contacted Port aux Basques, They knew nothing of where is he. I didn't - as I said before I was on vacation and I had a call at one of my hotels down there to call back and they did locate it by investigating you know the last contact that he was now in Come By Chance. And so they contacted the same funeral home that brought him into our care and hired him to pick him up in Come By Chance and take him Port aux Basques and re-ship him down through the port that needed him. And I guess the cost of that was in the thousands versus the 24 dollars that we charged to get him to Port aux Basques and then 4 cents a mile extra to bring him down to his home port. So that in my recollection was the last human remains ever transported on the CN railway in Newfoundland.