In December of 2014, we had presented the story of the 1881 fatal train crash that had resulted in five Blairton Ore Cars ending in the river at Trent River. Our story described the recovery of four of the cars - the work of mining engineer, Arthur Dunn of Ottawa, diver, Brian McCrodan of Peterborough, and staff of Parks Canada. It was a grand event with hopes of an eventual museum display.
But despite having gone to the trouble of restoring so many of the iron parts, enthusiasm at Parks Canada for the idea of mounting a comprehensive exhibit, telling the story of the ore cars waned. Ultimately they chose to simply store the artifacts in their Service Centres.
However, this week we received the following letter from George Parker, the expert on the Blairton Ore Cars, who, along with his team, created the replica, which now stands on the shores of Cobourg, as a tribute:
"I thought you might be interested to know that one of the ore cars is now on display at the Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. It is being displayed in the same condition as when it was lifted from the water in 1980, except that the wheels have been cleaned up. So it looks very different than the car we have on display here in Cobourg (which was made with new wood, and some new iron pieces as well).
It is quite appropriate that it should end up there, because Arthur Dunn was involved (as I understand it) in getting that museum started many years ago. And without Arthur, the cars would probably still be underwater! I visited the staff recently at the museum in Ottawa, to tell them more about the story of the ore cars, because they didn’t seem to get much information from Parks Canada when the car was handed over to them.
On the same trip, I demonstrated the mine model at the National Train Museum (Exporail) in Montreal. I asked the curator there, and he said that they have no intact railway equipment there as old as 1867.
So it would appear that the ore car is now the oldest railway car in the country!