First Train Memory

I live by the Slaw Rebchuk bridge sitting neatly over the CN rail tracks in Winnipeg. Each day I hear the train horns. They echoing into my subconscious. This sound becomes a part of my daily Winnipeg experience and makes my thoughts linger on the days of the transport boom in the early twentieth century. There are signs of past greatness everywhere I look, but most people have their head pointed to the ground or confined by their car frame trapped on icy roads and routine.

With each horn blast, I am also transported back to the early hours of the morning, to my Aunti Carol  and Uncle Glen’s acreage outside of Kamloops. That is one of my first memories of the train. Lying in bed I was woken up by this howling sound amplified by the Thompson river. I would try to imagine where the train was on the other side of the river bank,  what it looked like and what it would be like to ride one.  Very quickly it passed into my memory and I would fall back asleep. Every subsequent family vacation, I would awake to this sound and think once more about it.

Today, I am not woken by the Winnipeg trains, they seem more like ghosts and hauntings of colonialism. The trains crashing into each other in the rail yards at 8:00pm every night, the wreckage is there for all to be reminded. A physical reminder of segregation between the north and west ends, between nostalgia and trauma.

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