“And many are the dead men…too silent, to be real.” – Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Railroad Trilogy.
One of the best things about Canada is her railroads. One of the worst things about Canada is her railroads…
Today Canada faced one of her worst rail disasters to date. As The Wall Street Journal reports:
The fire on the train—five locomotives and 72 tanker cars carrying crude—was just the first in a cascade of problems that culminated in a tragic derailment that wiped out a large swath of downtown Lac-Mégantic, leaving 15 people confirmed dead and 60 more missing, as of Wednesday. With authorities saying that many bodies may never be recovered because of the intensity of the blast, the derailment—already one of the most dramatic rail accidents in Canada or the U.S. in recent years—threatens to be one of the deadliest. – from For Runaway Train, a Fire, Then Disaster Canadian Officials Say Train Was on Fire Before Derailment
My prayers are with those in Quebec (Kay-bec) at this moment as with all Canada regarding this tragedy. God be with them. I have a special place in my heart for this beautiful once thought of future home. I was able to go there – Montreal, Quebec and the surrounding area – twice during my teens and fell in love with her vast “dark forests” that modern day troubadour, Gordon Lightfoot, sings about in the Canadian Railroad Trilogy. The “Trilogy” is almost a second Canadian anthem, celebrating the once great connected line across the breadth of the Canadian landscape “from the Eastern shores to the Western strand” and eulogizing the men who died building her, “swinging their hammers in the bright blazing sun.” The US had her revolution and Canada her railroad. The railroad was Canada’s “war” and its heroes were the rail workers. It defined her and still does. The heart stirs at the grandness of the achievement but like Lightfoot’s haunting lyrics at the end, there is a broken heart and a great sadness in its wake as we mourn the dead. Just as we mourn for those lost in this day’s tragedy who also now are “…too silent to be real.”
My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green. – G. K. Chesterton, The Rolling English Road