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Famed Canadian artist writes support for continuing ACR passenger service

Friday, February 28, 2014   by: Staff received a copy of a letter sent to the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, from artist and environmentalist Robert Bateman in regards to the impending closure of passenger rail traffic from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst.

Dear Minister:
As an artist and environmentalist I was horrified to hear about the potential closing of the Algoma Railway passenger service.
As an artist I consider the geographical area through which the train travels as a Canadian art history heritage area. 

The train is the way that Group of Seven painters traveled into the Canadian wilderness and creatively displayed those landscapes through their art. 

Their paintings of scenes along the Algoma Central Railway (ACR) have become Canadian cultural icons.

I understand that art historian Michael Burtch and wildlife adventurers Joanie and Gary McGuffin have been conducting extensive, unique research along the ACR and have located over 80 sites of paintings made by various Group of Seven artists. 

This research is new to the field of Canadian art history and when their book and film are published will draw many tourists to the ACR tourism corridor. 

This will be a major boon to the tourist operators whose businesses are accessed only by this special train.
As an environmentalist I support public investment in train-based tourism and train travel in general as it is a way to reduce pollution and climate change and their destructive effects on the planet.

Enhancing the Northern Ontario wilderness trains as eco-tourism rail corridors is a way for Northern Ontario to diversify its economy and lead to sustainability of its local communities in an environmentally respectful way.

The Algoma Central Railway educates tourists about our fragile ecosystems as it travels through areas such as the world’s largest game preserve—the Chapleau Game Preserve.
I support the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT)’s request to the Federal government to reverse its decision to terminate the special funding for the ACR passenger train and treat it as essential infrastructure for the development of a rail tourism corridor through Ontario wilderness.
Robert Bateman


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Hmmm 2/28/2014 6:28:20 PM Report

Bravo. Well said, Mr. Bateman. Oftentimes, government officials and others fail to see the forest for the dollar signs. It's refreshing when respected artists, activists and environmentalists draw true attention to the pure value of the bountiful asset we have right here in our backyard. Hopefully, ACR will continue its daily pilgrimage into Northern Ontario's amazing wilderness for generations to come.
AverageSchlubb 2/28/2014 7:25:35 PM Report

Fantastic letter! I agree fully with Mr. Bateman. The rail service shouldn't be cut thru Algoma, tourism being one very good reason. I've been on the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT's) Group of Seven/Glenn Gould tour and it was absolutely stunning. It deserves to continue for sure. What I'm wondering though, does Mr. Bateman realize the Algoma landscape (including the group of seven painting sites) will be soon changing forever thanks to our Ontario government's decision to approve the 2014 construction of massive industrial wind turbines in this particular area? It's shameful and sad to think that the "Canadian art history heritage area" that Mr.Bateman refers to has the real potential to be destroyed very soon.
thomas 3/1/2014 5:57:31 AM Report

WOW, Robert Bateman steps up to the plate! Good for him. World famous influence might get us places.

I wonder how many more Canadian celebrities have ridden the train and will speak up too?
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