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Both Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific railways were among those lines in various parts of Canada which were amalgamated in 1923 to form the present Canadian National System.
The present C.N.R. station serving Portage la Prairie was built in 1908 and the concrete platform was laid in 1929.
What a difference in appearance of the first passenger trains to the diesel trains of today! As many of the present generation have never seen such a train, and future generations will not, a few words of description might be of interest.
The engine was powered by steam. An employee of the railway had the arduous task of keeping coal in the fire box and water in the boiler to produce the steam. The first trains were known to stop at creeks and ponds to take on water before water tanks were built at various places along the route. Coal was carried in what was called a 'coal tender' behind the cab of the engine.
When livestock roamed freely over the countryside a preventative of derailment was the tiered bumper at the front of the engine. This, for some strange reason, was called a 'cow-catcher', Actually, it just bunted animals off the railway track and not many of them lived after the bunt!
Many still remember the clear clanging of the bell, on top of the engine, as the train slid to a stop, and the shrill steam whistle blowing at 'take-off time' after a congenial conductor had shouted "A-L-L A-B-O-A-R-D", above the din of swishing steam and plat form activity.
In small towns many people often gathered at station platforms to see the train come in, and most of them didn't wend their way