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Dawn gets sentimental about a train

Friday, March 21, 2014   by: Staff received the following letter from loyal reader Dawn Rowe, who is concerned the cancellation of the ACR passenger train will keep her from being able to access her camp.

This is my plea to keep the ACR passenger train running.

We camp owners along the line depend on this vital link.

One March break our twenty-month-old daughter's temperature  kept rising.  

In the morning, her temperature skyrocketed so we made a quick decision to break camp and get her to the hospital.  

The conditions were such that just getting to the tracks was difficult, but we got there just in time.  

We were very grateful that the train provided this emergency route out from camp.

When our adopted daughter arrived at not quite five years old, she couldn't handle the cold. 

This meant for several years our family made our frequent trips to camp by train in the winter.  

My two girls have fond memories of waiting for the train, flagging the train down and enjoying the camaraderie of other rail travellers.

For many years our family hosted train/cross-country ski weekends to our camp.  

It was not uncommon for our daughters to have groups of 20 or more young people up.  

It was our delight to share our love of the wilderness with these young people.  

The ACR was the only reasonable means of transportation for groups of this size.  

I am constantly being told by these no longer young people what fond memories they have of those train trips to camp.

My husband and I are now senior citizens and experiencing some health concerns.  

We count on the train to get us out if we are not well or if we become injured.   

As the years march on, I was hoping to use the train more frequently to extend the number of years that we will have to enjoy the camp experience.

With major focuses on tourism and economic feasibility I wanted to express that there are sentimental human factors to this decision as well.  

The Algoma Central Railway has played an  important role in allowing  my family to enjoy The true Northern Ontario life style.

Respectfully submitted, Dawn Rowe.
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ROLAND_ROLLY 3/21/2014 1:04:54 PM Report

If you have built in an area serviced by the train then be prepared to pay dearly.

The rest of us should no have to subsidize your entertainment.
Ski-Dude 3/21/2014 1:10:01 PM Report

Looking at this situation with ignorance, as some do, why should the government subsidize anyone entertainment?
Ski-Dude 3/21/2014 1:10:49 PM Report

GoHoundsGo 3/21/2014 1:30:50 PM Report

Dawn, I certainly can understand your plight, and your deep concern for losing access to your "private" camp and even the impact on tourism, although I would think that is an after thought.But I and most people would be hard pressed to legitimize tax dollars goin to subsidize a private corperation thats been in the black, and making money hand over fist for years. CN/HCR ect have been given large swaths of land and monies from the gov't to provide that service and the gov't has cut off the subsidy, which I agree with 100%. The lands should be returned to the crown and the subsidies ended to ALL private corperations. CN feels that this particular service is not profitable, and as a private bussiness its their right to do so, providing they return the lands given to them considering they are no longer providing the service. If the amount of tax dollars I have to pay depends on whether a person can get to camp on a gov't subsidized companys train or my taxes not going up, I pick the latter. If you and the rest of the camp owners and businesses that are effected want rail service then negotiate with CN on a fair rate to pay for service...but I would think the rate would be incredibly expensive...but maybe not.
welcome2 3/21/2014 1:35:45 PM Report

I personally do not have property along the rail line so am not directly affected by the decision made. I do have friends who rely on the train to get to their camps and lodges.Whether you want to accept it or not, the railway is a business, and businesses do not stay operational unless the services they provide are used in a large enough volume to make it a profitable venture. Yes many people might be affected but the railways decision to suspend this part of their operation is no different than the steel mill closing a number of mills or the paper mill closing do to the fact they were not profitable ventures. As a tax paying citizen I do not feel I should be obligated to subsidize this service, particularily when it is for leisure purposes.It is somewhat like a person building a home on a golf course and then being upset because balls keep hitting their home. You chose to live, build a camp etc in a particular location and should therefore expect to have to pay the costs incurred in your decision.
Battler213 3/21/2014 2:01:01 PM Report

I do really sympathize, but must agree with the majority. How many private camps are out there that use the rail for transport? How often is it utilized? I'm sure it does cost a pretty penny to operate.
MaximusPrime 3/21/2014 2:05:37 PM Report

Comparing Canadian railway operations to other types of private business is ludicrous. The majority of railways would not have been built without the Canadian tax payer’s dollars. It would be like privatising Canadian highways and roads and then saying that the private company who now controls those roads has no responsibility to the citizens it serves. Due to the significant breaks, gifts and assistance provided by the Canadian tax payer to the various Canadian railway companies that they have a duty to service the basic need of the citizens who allowed for its very existence. If this is not the case, railways should begin paying their fair share of property taxes for the bed of the railway, they should start paying appropriate income taxes, they should be required to hold appropriate liability insurance and be independently police in order to prevent and manage tragedies such as the Lac-Megantic crash.

Having said this. I generally agree that private business has no duty to serve the people if it does not benefit their bottom line. But the railway is not a regular private business.
GoHoundsGo 3/21/2014 2:29:49 PM Report

Sorry Maximus, but you're dead wrong and your analogy of privitization of Canadian Highways and that Canadas private railways are not comparable to other private corps. The majority of Canadas railways were built with mostly private money with loans from the gov't and tax breaks and land. Also there a many privatized roads throughout North America and Canada and they certainly have responsibility to the citizens they serve, but also charge a fee for using the roads comparable to thier upkeep, servicing, toll takers and a tidy profit. Like mentioned before, if the camp owners want service then negotiate a rate to continue it. But not one cent of my tax dollars better go to helping someone get to thier leisure/vacation a private camp.

Maximus please read again where I say "many privatized roads throughout North America and Canada and they certainly have responsibility to the citizens they serve, but ALSO charge a fee for using the roads comparable to thier upkeep, servicing, toll takers and a tidy profit."

But do agree with what you said about railways paying thier fair share. " railways should begin paying their fair share of property taxes for the bed of the railway, they should start paying appropriate income taxes, they should be required to hold appropriate liability insurance and be independently police in order to prevent and manage tragedies such as the Lac-Megantic crash."
MaximusPrime 3/21/2014 2:46:31 PM Report

@ GoHoundGo. I did not argue that the railway should provide their service for free (they never did), so it is you who should read again. You do concede that the privatised highways do have a duty to the citizens (for a fee) it serves. But the railway has simply cancelled service. They did not propose reduced services, increased fees….. or any other alternatives. They simply cancelled service. So even using your own concession regarding privatised highways, this does not make sense.
I should also state, I do not own or visit any of the affected properties.
Kanada 3/21/2014 3:03:37 PM Report

Roads are subsidized 10% to 30% depending on the jurisdiction. Rail also pays property tax which roads do not. And in Ontario gasoline has a tax that goes to help pay for road construction and maintenance. Rail also has a "public transportation" tax of 4.5¢ per litre, not sure where that goes. So who is subsidizing what?
shju 3/21/2014 3:08:47 PM Report

If you have money to buy a nice camp you have money to buy a snowmachine and an atv. Simple fix. Take control people. A friend of mine has a camp that you can only access in wintertime with a snowmachine. In summer time he has to charter a small airplane to fly him in.
MaximusPrime 3/21/2014 3:10:12 PM Report

Hi Kanada. The only thing I dispute in your statement is that the railway pays property taxes. I believe they only pay taxes for the lands they own ie. train stations, offices etc. I do not believe they pay anything for the bed or the railways. In fact, other than native land, railway land is the only land which does not have a land title. I believe the bed of the railway was essentially gifted to them via the railway act.
Kanada 3/21/2014 3:29:09 PM Report

Here is a Globe and Mail story about CAA road subsidy study, and CAA is kind of pro-roads.
MaximusPrime 3/21/2014 3:33:49 PM Report

Actually Kanada, I have 1 more problem with your statement. Roads are almost 100% subsidized by the tax payer. Please show me a single public road (in Canada) that was built using private money.
Kanada 3/21/2014 3:39:49 PM Report

Try these links to rail facts:

In Ontario railways pay 9¢ per acre in property tax. Railways own a lot of acres in Ontario. Not sure what railways pay for property tax in municipalities.
Kanada 3/21/2014 4:00:02 PM Report

I guess that was kind of the point. Roads are subsidized by the tax payers. Not everyone can or does drive. And why is funding to roads considered an investment and funding to rail considered a subsidy?

Subsidizing roads is a good idea if it is rationalized. Transportation of goods and people is fundamental to an economy. The problem is that rail is much more effective and cost efficient for transporting people and goods over longer distances, especially in winter but that has not been considered in transportation support and funding.
Roads are really great and necessary for two applications:
1) local transportation of small groups of people and relatively light freight.
2) to connect to other types of transportation that are much more efficient and cost effective.

In Canada and especially Ontario, we are trying to use roads for everything and thereby turning our road system into money pits. I don't like high taxes so I question our governments blindly pouring money into roads without questioning whether multi-modal transportation investments would be easier on us tax payers.
port 3/21/2014 4:17:46 PM Report

The way I see it....

It is a private business and if it does not make money, it is difficult to justify keeping it. The fact that they make money in other areas does not factor into the equation.

As for the taxpayers' subsidizing the operation, this is an issue with no clear answer. Taxpayers subsidize/pay for services and programs that benefit citizens of this country in varying numbers. Some services provide for millions of people, some for a few hundred. The determination of what services to fund and which ones not to fund is based on a complicated cost/benefit analysis, the details of which we are seldom made aware of.

So the question as a taxpayer is: What do I want my tax dollars paying for, with the knowledge that there are many services and programs that I will never benefit from along with those that I will benefit from. Also consider that some of the services and programs that I want to have funded by tax dollars will have others objecting to because they don't use them.

What is the answer? I simply do not have enough knowledge of how the government officials make such determination of cost/benefit considerations. That is where this needs to start. Once we understand the criteria and how it is applied, then we will be capable of forming a more informed opinion on the issues at hand.

It is a very emotional issue for some, a very practical issue for others and of course, an issue that some don't care about at all.

Very difficult situation!
Kanada 3/21/2014 4:20:34 PM Report

Well said Port.
LuluBird 3/21/2014 4:26:53 PM Report

For all of you who don't want to fund a public service with your tax dollars need to read this article. Just might make you rethink where you want your tax dollars to go.
Kanada 3/21/2014 5:10:44 PM Report

The question about this whole thing is why did Transport Canada cancel funding the Algoma passenger train? Transport Canada has been funding the Algoma passenger train for decades but have they ever done an analysis of the employment and economic impacts? They did not even notify or consult with stakeholders in making the decision, so how did they analyze economic impacts? What about the expenses, have they looked at CN's books? Have they looked at whether our taxes were spent efficiently. I have heard that the generator for the electricity on the train runs all night when it is parked instead of plugging it in to local hydro. Did Transport Canada look at all these factors before cancelling the funding? It looks like they did not look at any of that.
It looks like Transport Canada cancelled the funding just because they get a bonus for any government spending they cut, and really did not worry about the socio-economic impacts to Algoma because we are out in the boonies. Why are PM office paid lunches not on the block?
LuluBird 3/21/2014 5:18:57 PM Report

Kanada, you are so right.I have a family member working for CN and he tells me about how things are done and it makes me shake my head. An audit of where the subsidy is spent would be a good place to start.
northernmale 3/21/2014 5:37:13 PM Report

Why do we give piles of money to other country's? Yet we cut services to the people who pay taxs to this country.We also hear where they want to up the price of gas ,for infrastructure in Southern Ontario.I think our government for gets there is a Northern Ontario unless they want money from us or cut a service to give the money for something in the south.,Its time the north elect people who care about the North,
shybutwhy 3/21/2014 7:15:19 PM Report

This city is dying a slow death. A once proud city is now a joke of the North. We preach Tourism now that the Train service is about to go what does this city offer. I know why don't we offer tours of the steel plant that will bring people to the city.
palace 3/21/2014 9:12:56 PM Report

Well with all this being said...I still think my tax money should go to help "Canadians" not to foreign countries. The money Mr. Harper has spent in foreign aid to date would keep the ARC running for light years...
couch_potato_06 3/21/2014 9:46:24 PM Report

I agree and disagree with many of the comments made. There are many people with camps and that own lodges between here and hawk junction that rely on the rail to get the business they need to survive. Many of us have lots of memories of riding the rail to camps or taking a ride to Agawa canyon.

If it wasn't for Harper the rail would still be in business. He's waisted too many dollars on bullshit. Stop waisting money on foreign problems and help your people Mr. Harper.

And another thing, Cut welfare. For the people who truly need it fine, but for the people who are more than capable of working get of your ass and get a job so or government can free up tons of cash for more important agendas.
I don't mind working my ass of so I can share experiences with my kids that I have experienced myself. But no, the government had to cut funding on important items like links to the north and tourism. If the government though likes us regular people that like doing the tourist thing and trying to bring cash flow to the north the rail line would be safe.

Yet another problem is the big shots on parliament hill getting their big fat raise every year. I wish I made 200, 200 a year with a promised raise every year. More money waisted.

And that really grinds my gears!
palace 3/21/2014 11:19:17 PM Report

Good for you couch potato...I agree with you 100 per cent!!!!!!!!!!
northkidd2 3/22/2014 8:06:53 AM Report

It does not cease to amaze me the simple minded comments that are generally made towards Dawn “buy a snow machine” “you have a camp I don’t” “I should not pay for your leisure activities” , people grow up or shut up. The fact that this women owns a camp up along the ACR line is wonderful, I could only wish to some day have property in one of the most beautiful areas of Ontario, but that is not the focus, the debate here is the rail way system is access to the northern regions, one being her camp. Not to mention, there are many people, believe it or not that actually live up there, yes actually live there and rely on the train services. People are quick to cut services that they “do not personally use” but there are many services in Canada that not all Canadians may ever use, but they are put in place for the solidarity of the country. For example in our own area of Algoma, there are access roads that may have only a few “tax payers” homes located in a rural areas within the district, are we to tell this people “Sorry you chose to live their move into the city and stop inhabiting parts of the rural country?”. Have any of you who have jumped on this woman actually used the train to access Northern Ontario?
The train is a reliable source of transportation regardless of weather conditions the train is accessible; the train is a link to the Northern communities that maintains a connection to the rest of the province. Many of you are quick to jump to slash and bash, do you think the people of Southern Ontario care if the north gets a four-lane highway or snow plowing at all hours of the night? Guess what they do not use our roads or highways and really don’t’ care if you get to work on time, so should we allow them to tell us that “hey you choose to live in the north east, so if you don’t’ like the fact you have a two lane highway and poor snow removal, move to Toronto area” because that is the ignorance you are showing this lady who has written a letter to the editor. This country was born via the railway system, a system that is still a viable need of some. I encourage you to review the population and access maps in the infrastructure plan highlighted here to see the actually population in Northern Ontario because in all reality we are the south of the north!
Ski-Dude 3/22/2014 10:27:47 AM Report

Nice write-up northkidd2!
Ski-Dude 3/22/2014 10:29:53 AM Report

Well said port!
atticus 3/23/2014 2:33:34 AM Report

How does, for instance, Attiwapiskat manage, amidst other remote areas? Surely there is funding all around.
kaylee 3/28/2014 11:40:07 AM Report

I have personally know Dawn for over 30 years and say good for her. Being sentimental has gone out of style but is a very human reaction. When you raise your kids by taking them out to a place like they have over all these years, your create kids that dont't play on video games all day like the kids do now. They get out to excercise and into the fresh air and learn how to fend for themselves as well as other outdoor survival skills. They don't get into trouble doing other things.
And to the person who commented about her buying a sled.... she has owned one for as long as I have known her and has ridden the 66km into camp and back many times with a 55 lb border collie in front of her. I bet not to many of you folks have ever done that. She continues to do that with their lastest dog as well. I will be proud to say that if can still do that when I am 60 plus I would be thrilled. The train is sometimes our only way out if the sleds breakdown or people are hurt. So we really do need the train to stay running.
So learn all the facts first.
Way to go Dawn.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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