Time has a way of changing everything

There was a time when I would have been annoyed at having to wait for a train to pass

There was a time when I would have been annoyed at having to wait for a train to pass. I would have been in a hurry to go or get back from somewhere. I would have thought my time too valuable to just sit there waiting. My, how things change!

The other day, I was stopped at a railway crossing near Chase waiting for the Rocky Mountaineer to go by. A passenger onboard waved to me. I mindlessly waved back. As it rolled past, my thoughts drifted to summer days of long ago when I used to walk along the railway tracks near my grandmother’s house. Whenever a passenger train would pass by, I would stand at the side of the tracks and wave to people looking out the windows, wondering where they were heading, where they had come from and what adventures lay ahead for them farther on down the line. I used to wish it was me onboard, looking out as the train took me somewhere far away. Back then, I felt like a cloud that was doomed to just hang around waiting for even the slightest hint of a breeze to blow me somewhere far away. I still feel like that sometimes.

As a kid, I remember sitting amid the tall grass that grew in a field not far from our house. Back then, the grass seemed so tall. I was a lot smaller. To me it just stretched out so far in all directions that I could totally disappear into what seemed like a huge ocean of green waves. When a train would come by, I would yell and shout at the top of my lungs. Everything would be drowned out by the sound of the train. I wouldn’t even hear my own voice. It would be lost in the fury of the moment. Then the train would pass and all would be back to normal. Once again I would be stuck there alone, adrift in my sea of green.

Often when I’m stuck at a railway crossing somewhere, waiting for a train to pass, I think about the words to Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railway Trilogy. I think the two of us share a similar sense of wanderlust. I also cannot help but wonder if Lightfoot ever found himself waiting at a railway crossing somewhere and ended up writing some of the lines to his song.

“There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run, when the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun. Long before the white man and long before the wheel, when the deep dark forest was too silent to be real.”

It would seem Lightfoot and I also share a similar perspective on the history of the railway. How many trees, how many forests were cut down to build that railway? How many streams and spawning beds destroyed, how many lives altered, how many dreams dashed?

Yes, it can be said it was a different time back then when people had different attitudes, especially about the environment. The country was ‘a growin,’ but not without its growing pains. The railway may have changed a nation, but time has a way of changing everything.

While I sat there waiting for the Rocky Mountaineer to go by, thinking about the words to Lightfoot’s song, remembering experiences from my youth, I also realized a lot of time has passed since Lightfoot wrote his song. He recorded it back in 1967.

Things have indeed changed. In many areas of this vast country, trains are not what they used to be.

Where once steel rails shone brightly, weeds and wildflowers, bushes and bull rushes seem to be ever encroaching on the remaining thin strips of ground where rail lines still run.

The ‘great steel rail’ was built in the name of progress. Now progress seems to have deemed the railway unnecessary – a thing of the past.



Just Posted

Cody Bandsma practises kiting with his new paraglider wing at Blackburn Park on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
VIDEO: Cody Bandsma reaching new heights over Salmon Arm

Former 100 Mile resident discovers Shuswap by air with powered paraglider

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A promotional image for The Wharf Sessions album. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
The Wharf Sessions album pays tribute to Salmon Arm’s long-running concert series

Salmon Arm Arts Centre wanted to give recording opportunity to artists in a tough year

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

An overhead view of the proposed location of 5 new units at Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park. (District of Sicamous image)
5 new rental units proposed at Sicamous Creek Mobile Home Park

Coun. Gord Bushell said he thinks it will be great to have five new rentals in the community

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read