The Christmas Train

It was Christmas Eve, a Thursday
On the Northern Express Christmas Train
We were on our way north through the wilds
And our  destination was to be old Hornepayne

One hundred and eighty two people
Three kittens, one goat and nine dogs
Were riding up north on the railroad
Oh, I forgot to mention six hogs

There was snow coming in from the waters
Surrounding the bays, both Hudson and James
The engineer was prepared for a whopper
This would not be a time to play games

It was nineteen twenty in the year of our lord
The great war had been done for two years
These people were travelling homeward
To spend Christmas with those they held dear

The storm was gathering force over water
There was no way to safely arrive
They only had one option before them
If he wanted them all to survive

He pulled the train off on a side spur
They were not getting home safe tonight
But, the train, being old wasn’t worthy
Of surviving the storm and it’s fight

The conductor gathered up  all his courage
And he entered each car in their turn
He said “It looks like we’re here for a while”
The storm looked real bad, as they’d learn

Remember it was nineteen twenty
The trains had no heat to keep warm
There was just an old stove and the engine
To keep them alive in the storm

The lines were down, so no message
Could be sent via morse code machine
They were stuck in the Ontario wilds
In a storm worse than they’d ever seen

They prayed and they sang hymns all together
Christmas carols and some all would know
As they sat, and they watched out the window
At the wind whipping, white sheets of snow

It was just after four when it started
Six hours in it was worse
One man, a fellow named Woolner
Said “we’re stuck on a CP rail hearse”

The children were kept calm by their mothers
The men were watching as well
They were keeping an eye on the weather
They would not die in this frozen hell

It was just before midnight I reckon
When the storm broke enough to see out
The snow was now done and was over
Of this there was surely no doubt

Christmas Day…it was now after midnight
Some were sleeping while others were not
They had left to go start a fire
This was an idea given plenty of thought

The people awoke and they followed
To the fire to keep warm and still pray
They would make the best of a bad situation
Don’t forget it was still Christmas Day

Christmas happens, it doesn’t pick a location
It doesn’t give a damn where you are
Christmas happens, and it gives a feeling
Of goodness, whether you’re close or home is quite far

These people all stuck in the forest
Still a day or so from where they would go
Spent a Christmas with a whole bunch of strangers
some dogs, cats and hogs and a goat

Gifts that were destined for family
Were opened that night by the crowd
And the carols they sang in the forest
Shook the snow, they were singing so loud

The trees were lit up by the fire
Snow was covering branches up high
When they looked up into the dark heavens
And they saw the bright lights in the sky

The rainbow of colours was awesome
It shone brighter than bright in the sky
But one thing stood out in the distance
The one star that shone bright from on high

What was it that brought them together
Made them share this Christmas as one
Was it the storm that was the only reason
Or was there something else there that had come

The word came on out from the engine
The lines of communication were back
They should all get on back to their carriage
And he’d get this train back on track

When they all climbed aboard to get moving
Every seat had a package, all wrapped
No one saw who delivered the presents
As they were all in this outland, and trapped

Was it Santa come through to deliver
Their presents while they all went to pray
It’s a question that no one can answer
It’s a puzzle that remains to this day

If you ever go north on the railway
And you pass by the park near Hornepayne
Remember the big storm they encountered
And the magic on the Christmas Train

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4 thoughts on “The Christmas Train

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