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lobster shack head of jeddore nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

I did say that everyone would be catered for, didn't I? That includes the dazzling urbanites and suburbanites of Halifax because here at the Head of Jeddore we have "The Lobster Shack" complete with bunting, flags and fairy lights.

This clearly marks the start of civilisation and proof (if any were needed) that we are in Halifax country. This is the start of commuter-land and it's quite a shame if you ask me. In fact, apart from an odd bit around St John's and another odd bit around Sydney the last time that I was in commuter-land was back in Québec and that was a lifetime ago.

Another way of divining that this is civilisation is that every single house now has its own mailbox now right at the edge of its drive, instead of there being a battery of mailboxes at a salient point serving a whole community, as you would see a few miles further to the east. This must be where they pay more rates I suppose, or where Post Canada makes most profit.

And a couple of miles further down the road we come across a Chinese restaurant and even a shopping mall. We are getting it all now. It really is a most astonishing and dramatic change between rural isolated Canada and the urban big-city sprawl. And me having ambled along sedately for the last couple of centuries, I'm having to put my foot down now or else I will end up with an impatient commuter in the boot of Casey.

And I did say "something for everyone" on the previous page, didn't I? Indeed I did, and the next bit is for me. That's because, just a little further along the road at Musquodoboit, I stumble across a railway museum, and that takes me completely by surprise.

musquodoboit railroad museum railway nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Now of course, if you have been keenly following my pages you will note that industrial architecture plays a large part in the subjects about which I write, and obsolete railways not the least. I'll always (well, almost always) stop to look at interesting articles of railway history.

What has taken my by surprise just here is that I came this way in the winter of 2003 when I was quite ill, and I made no comment whatsoever about the railway museum here. Was it not here then? I ask myself. How would I not notice a railway museum? I really must have been ill.

yard shunter musquodoboit railroad museum railway nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Another thing that has taken me by surprise here is that for once in a provincial Canadian railway museum there is actually a locomotive. I mean it's not actually a locomotive in the same category as a Pacific 4-6-2 or a Garrett articulated 2-8-8-2, but it's here and not being turned into a thousand baked bean tins and that's something, I suppose.

I'm having to really think if I have seen another engine before at a wayside place like this, and I can't say that I have. There was the steam locomotive that was a stationary exhibit on the waterfront at Windsor but that was about it I reckon - "it was as recently as Baie Comeau actually" ...ed.

From the layout of the engine - central cab with excellent visibility front and rear and gangways down to the buffers - I reckon that it's a yard shunter or a factory engine and unlikely to have seen service on a main line. And that's probably the reason why it's here - the mainstream railway museums consider it to be of no special historical significance.

Of course, all of the above is conjecture because we have yet another historical attraction where the proprietors see no need to put up information panels to describe the exhibits on public view, and I am totally at a loss as to why they can't seem to want to be bothered to take the trouble to do it. Museums are supposed to be places of education, after all, and I for one am always keen to be educated.

And on the subject of conjecture I'm wondering if the machine is in working order. It would be nice to think that it is and that it gets to run up and down the line every so often. I hope so, because
 i.... a diesel is pretty easy to maintain and needs no special skills as does a steam locomotive. If they can't keep this machinery in good working order then it doesn't hold out much hope for the rest of the exhibits
 ii... the passage of time means that these machines become rarer and rarer. My generation grew up with this kind of locomotive and so we may tend to consider it to be nothing but a banal piece of soulless diesel. However future generations accustomed to turbo-electric machinery wll see some kind of rarity in a machine such as this and it would be sad if, through our own lack of interest we let it pass away. The spare parts are available now - in 20 years time they might not be.

While we are still on the issue of conjecture, you are probably wondering why I simply don't go inside the museum and ask them about the exhibits on display. Actually, that was indeed my plan, but something else that has taken me by surprise - and that is that although according to my calculations it's a Saturday just now, the museum is closed. There isn't a soul about, apart from me and a couple of people walking their dogs.

In fact, there's a sign exhibited telling the curious passers-by and out-of-season tourists that the place is closed "for the summer - see you next year" and it is definitely "for the summer" too - I had a double-take on that and it so surprised me that I made a careful note.

I know that they say that in the Maritimes you can have four seasons in one day but the idea that a tourist attraction might be closed "for the summer" is bordering on the absurd. Even in some of the ski resorts they keep the chairlifts and the mountain-top cafés open "for the summer". What on earth is going on here - closing a tourist attraction for the summer?

And not only that; but here we are in Musquodoboit, it's a Saturday and the museum is closed and I dunno - we are maybe 50 kilometres from Halifax. Don't Haligonians want to come out and relax and do all kinds of touristy and cultural things during their weekends off work? Having a tourist season is one thing even if your attraction is closed "for the summer" but being closed at weekends is quite another thing.

Of course it didn't stop me from going for a wander around to look at whatever exhibits that there might be on display, and to fill my pages with nothing but conjecture in the absence of any signing or labelling.

caboose snow plough musquodoboit railroad museum railway nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

What we have here is firstly a snowplough, and there would be a great number of these on the Canadian Railways as you might expect. Behind it is what I expect is what we in the UK would call a Guard's Van, and over here is called a caboose.

As an aside, a caboose is a Guard's Van, not a baby First-Nation Canadian. As for the name of a First-Nation Canadian, if its mummy is called a squaw, then baby is called a squawker.

In Britain of course with the road system being reasonably-well established by the time the railways were built, most of the bridges and tunnels on the railway network were built to suit the small scale of railway rolling stock in the early days. Hence on British Railways the loading gauge for width and headroom is very tight and the amount of infrastructure they had to rebuild during the electrification of the West Coast main line in the 1960s in order to put up the overhead wires was astonishing.

No such issues here in Canada of course where the railways were headed off into the uncharted wildernesses. They could build their rolling stock for height and we've even seen double-decker container trains in the USA . Here, giving the guard, or conductor as he is known, a bird's-eye view of the track ahead must have been a really important safety feature, always assuming of course that his perch was not obscured by clouds of steam from the engine.

The snow plough is interesting as well. It's a blade plough, not a rotary plough like the ones we met on the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad in Chama in 2002 . They would couple up half a dozen heavy locomotives to the plough and use their weight and motive force to push the plough through the snowdrifts and out the other side.

Such is the theory of course but quite often the affair would come to grief as the ploughs might not have sufficient weight to remain on the track when they encounter hard-packed snow on the line while being pushed forward from behind with such force, and there are considerable stories of tragedy on the railway network due to ploughs being out-of-balance.

Experiments on the Waverley Line in Scotland in the 1960s showed that by a gang of labourers digging trenches through the snowdrifts across the tracks at regular distances perpendicular to the direction of travel, a snowplough could clear the line with much less effort that simply hesding full-tilt into the drift. How practical this might be in a Canadian Prairie blizzard is however a matter of some debate.

1880 emigrant coach musquodoboit railroad museum railway nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Now this is rather sad, isn't it? It's a good example of what I mean about these small wayside museums not having the facilities or the technical know-how to deal adequately with the exhibits in their care.

This is what they call a clerestory coach - with the raised roof in the centre that would ordinarily have windows in the sides to let light into the cente of the coach. It's made of wood too and as all-metal construction was becoming the fashion at the end of the 19th Century, this might well date this coach to maybe the latter part of that century - it's certainly of a more modern style than coaches of the mid-19th Century.

Looking at where the central door is and where the windows are, my guess is that it's a combined coach for passengers and luggage, and this makes me wonder whether or not it might be one of the emigrant coaches - they would put these on trains heading from Halifax or Québec or Montreal to the mid-west plains of Alberta and Saskatchewan with the emigrants of the 1880s who were planning to farm out there.

Its colour is of course non-standard and much of the original equipment has been removed. The roofing felt is certainly non-standard too and so this makes me think that when it was taken out of service it was stuck in a corner of a railway yard, maybe on a private factory railway, and used as an office and store.

But this really needs to be taken under cover and the purple paint carefully removed to see what is underneath, and then a considerable amount of TLC (tender loving care) given to it, in order to try to restore it to its former glory. If it is what I think that it is, it's a pretty rare piece of equipment.

As I have said, in the absence of any notes or signage, I'm having to guess at much of the equipment here and being a European with little knowledge of the history of Canadian railways, my conclusions may well be far from the truth. If you would like to add anything to my comments or correct what I have written, or would simply like to say "Hello", please don't hesitate to . I like to interact with my audience.

What is significant about Musquodoboit is that the museum here really does signify the end of the line for the local railway network out here in Suburban Canada, and yet the town is also the terminus of the new Motorway for high-speed road traffic into Halifax. Most North Americans don't go in for irony, I know, but I can't help thinking that the choice of Musquodoboit for the site of the railway museum might just possibly be some kind of symbolic gesture. If it is a coincidence, it really is a most astonishing one.

And so with shopping malls, Chinese restaurants and now motorways, I'm determined to do everything that I can to keep out of civilisation for as long as possible.

seaforth coast nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

There's another detour from here that follows the coast for a short while round by the village of Seaforth and so this has to be the preferred option. This was a road well-worth taking and the view along the coast from here was really rather attractive, especially as the weather was cheering up.

One thing that I noticed was that at a road junction along here there was a battery of mailboxes. Aaahhh, back in the rural life again. That's so much better than the suburban sprawl, don't you think?

atlantic beach seaforth lawrencetown nova scotia coast canada october octobre 2010

Further along the road here we encounter a proper Atlantic beach. I can't think that we have sighted one of these yet apart from the bits that I saw out at Canso yesterday and so this one is well-worth recording. In case you are interested, which I'm sure that you are, this beach is to be found between Seaforth and Lawrencetown.

One thing that you won't be recording is the presence of swimmers. Here we are in late October and the sun is out, but the weather is perishing and there's another one of those nasty winds a-blowing. And not a wind turbine in sight. Where was the last wind turbine we sighted? Point Tupper on Cape Breton Island if I remember correctly.

abandoned railway track bed seaforth lawrencetown nova scotia coast canada october octobre 2010

This view from the beach (for I went for a little walk to stretch my legs) stopped me in my tracks - if you pardon the expression. Yes, for the first thing that came into my head when I saw this was that it was a railway track bed.

And yes indeed. So it is. Apparently it was laid to down here in order that the beach and its surroundings could be quarried for sand and gravel - you can see that we are not in a holiday zone just here. It was said that an enormous quantity of sand and gravel was hauled away for all kinds of different purposes - so much so that there was major and severe erosion of the coastline.

This erosion led to the passing of the Coastal Protection Act of 1976, this law prohibiting excavation and the extraction of minerals along the coast, and so I suppose that some purpose was served.

And driving along the coast and passing through Lawrencetown, I encounter a sign that is advertising "quality Egyptian products". Really. How bizarre is that? I asked my mummy about it and she told me that these products were moved on by pyramid selling.

This seems to be the end of my rural ramble for it is just down the road from here that I burst into Dartmouth and the start of the urban sprawl. Not that I'm too dismayed, for having passed through here on a couple of flying visits in the dim and distant past, I had been impressed with what I had seen. Tomorrow is Sunday and we've been promised good weather, so I'm going to take full advantage of that and have a proper prowl around.

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