MAY 2004




    Well that is not a very good title for this issue of the CAT TRAIN NEWSLETTER. It should be more like lets go BROKE or I lost my shirt and Ĺ of my wardrobe. When I look back at the pictures from when we hauled logs on the winter freighting sleighs, it is hard to think of happy thoughts. But on the lighter side Xena was pottie trained while we were 60 miles in the bush and ran out of diapers. So when she used the last of the diapers, it was totally up to her to use the pottie and never wet the bed at night either. I guess there a bright side to this four month nightmare. I will try and tell you some of the highlights of this ordeal and to keep my feelings of the very bad people to myself.

    I should have seen the writing on the wall on this nightmare project but I was so naive on this because all I wanted to do is go Cat Training. The fellow I was dealing with at the big logging company was a very smooth talker and he was always putting on the lip gloss when you were talking with him. He was good and could have sold air conditioners at the South Pole and made enough to retire. But then again, Iím to blame as well because I only have twelve years of schooling which doesnít means I have grade twelve. Ask my favourite English teacher. I should have pulled out before I kissed close to $30,000.00 good-bye. That is one of the joys of believing in the Cat Trains so much that Iíll do almost anything to go freighting at any cost. Well Iím getting very smart in my old age, I figured out it is cheaper sit then it is to work for nothing and wear out your equipment. Run up a bunch of bills that take up to 3 years to pay for due to the money tree blossoming only a very few times a year. If I only learned this about twenty years ago, I would be retired and writing the CAT TRAIN NEWSLETTER from my condo in Florida. I donít think so.

    For us to go logging, we went to Laurie River which has the hydro generating station which Sherritt Gordon Mines built with the Cat Trains in the early 1950s. Laurie River has rail access only so, we had to load the sleighs, cats and Linn Tractor on railcars for transport 60 miles to Laurie River. This is no small feat due to the fact sleighs donít like anything that is not covered in snow. So the fight was on to get the sleighs onto the flatcars with out wrecking them. We were loaded and ready to go on the next train, but the train would not take us due to the fact that Mr. Lip-gloss didnít do the paper work. I should have realized that it was starting off bad and it is only going to get worse. I was so dumb about this, I could not see the forest for the trees, because all I wanted to do is go winter sleigh freighting. With the paper work finally completed by Mr. Lip-gloss, we are off to Laurie River to lose my shirt and Ĺ of my wardrobe. But Iím going winter sleigh freighting so there is a big smile on my face as if it was prom night.

    The train drops off equipment at Laurie River train stop which is 30 km from the hydro generating station and it is only minus 39C at 1:00PM. Not bad for the heat of the day. There is no one around and no vehicles like Mr. Lip-gloss promised so we are on our own. This is not good, I now know how the guys who landed on the moon felt with no welcoming party. My cup of coffee is always Ĺ full but today it is frozen solid and we must regroup or we will be the featured article in the newspaper. I can still remember what the headlines would read: THE KING OF OBSOLETE---- FROZEN TOAST!!!!!!!! We must get things happening here by getting the heat on in the caboose and the equipment running before it gets really cold. The Famous Black Cat and the Linn Tractor fire right up with a little heat from the tiger torch and we start unloading the sleighs in the cold dark.

    We head out on the 30 km trip to the hydro dam where we will set up camp for the logging experience. Winter freighting sleighs are made to travel through the bush in the great white north not traveling down a plowed road use for vehicles. What a nightmare this little trip turned out to be and I banged my head a few times for listening to Mr. Lip-gloss. The sleighs never would stay on the road, they followed the slope of the road and were always in the ditch which is very deep snow making it extremely hard to pull. It was the very wee hours of the morning when we got to the hydro dam site with the temperature well below minus 45C, but we had frickin fun, RIGHT!!!! In the morning the hydro employees woke up to see the Cat Train sitting at the dam site. They could not believed that we came in on the train and unloaded everything and made the journey in this unbearable temperature. No problem I said it was a walk in the park. Yeah right with quotes like that I should be in politics.

What a sight for us to wake up and see the hydro dam that the Cat Trains built. To think that it has been close to 50 years since there was a Cat Train in the same spot! The Cat Train used to be a way of life and was as common as the modern day semi truck. I enjoyed my morning cup of coffee while looking out the frosted up window of the freighting caboose. I went in to dream world and could picture in my mind the Cat Trains running around Laurie River Dam site with the sleighs loaded with the materials to build the concrete structures. To think that everything had to be hauled in the winter months for the summer construction season and be ordered at least a year in advance. This is quite mind boggling or maybe it is the fact that my brain hurts from banging my head too many times the night before with the plans of Mr. Lip-gloss.

   After my second cup of coffee I decided to get pictures of the Linn Tractor at Laurie River Hydro Dam because it has been 50 years since they made the film of the Town of Lynn Lake, Mb moving from Sherridon, Mb. The film was made by CBC and is called BEYOND THE STEEL which featured the Linn Tractor I have now. It is a very good picture history of the move and I was lucky enough to meet the fellow who was on the Cat Train that transported the film crew. This fellow has pictures that match the film because he was standing beside the film crew when they were filming. So he has the still shots of what is in the film which is a good thing. I was able to scan the pictures to be on file and this is history that canít be lost. So to sit at Laurie River and look out the caboose window and relive history was well worth all the hassle that Mr. Lip-gloss put me through. I figured it out once that it would have been cheaper to fund this photo shoot at Laurie River out of my own pocket then to go and lose my shirt and Ĺ my wardrobe.

   In the next issue of the CAT TRAIN NEWSLETTER Iíll be telling you how I lost the FAMOUS BLACK CAT for nine days and the ice road I built that no one used.