All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway / Coastal History

Dining & Entertainment

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Each Car had its Own Porter

Behind the dining car was the sleeping car or sleeper. Each car had its own porter to keep check on the needs and comforts of his passengers. The porter would make up berths when sleeping time came around and restore the sleeping car to a sitting car when morning came. It was a traditional part of the trip to be roused by the voice of the steward walking through the aisle between the berths calling "First call for breakfast. Dining car forward!" For those who wanted to sleep in for a while another call was made a while later - "Last call for breakfast!"

The social centre of the sleeping car was the "Smoker," a small room at the end of the car, furnished with a padded, leather-covered bench seat along one wall, an upholstered armchair in the centre, and a counter with three inset wash basins and a long overhanging mirror. In the morning the wash basins were busy as the room served the morning rituals of the passengers. The "Smoker" was exclusively a man's space, one never saw a woman there. In the evening, after dinner, it was a place for conversation and a smoke, (when almost everyone smoked) and a drink or two. It was the men's club, where nearly everyone always knew each other after frequent travels on the trains. There was always a commercial traveller or two, moving from one town to the next and spreading news of the happenings in the places visited.

Upper berth in a sleeping car diorama.
The upper berth in a sleeper remained closed all day and was opened at night. Railway Coastal Museum.
Image of the Observation car Bristol.
The Bristol had formerly been H.D. Reid's private car Quidi Vidi. Here is a "smoker" compartment of that car. "Overland" Schedule, 1948.
Buffet Serving slip with price list.
Buffet serving slips like this were used by passengers to mark their order on. Janet Story Collection.