Friday, February 27, 2009

The View From Where?

I received a message this morning that my yahoo briefcase is shutting down forever on March 31, 2009.
What the heck is a yahoo briefcase? I honestly had no recollection of using anything like this.
So, I went to the link in the email to investigate.
It turns out the Briefcase was something that Yahoo! added several years ago to their services for members to save files and documents. I had signed up for it in the Friends of the Railway account and forgot all about it.
The only thing I have in there is a copy of the September 2004 newsletter which I composed to send out to our members and supporters.
It was quite interesting to read what was going on with the poor old York Street Station at that time.
It wasn't even 5 years ago but feels like it was decades.
At that time Bill Thorpe was our President and was healthy. One amazing thing about Bill was that he always seemed so upbeat and confident that things were progressing well and the station repairs were going to begin very soon.
We had a full board of directors. I was (and guess I still am) the Membership Director.
I was signing up members like crazy.

The newsletters had old and new pictures of the station as well as opinions and thoughts of anyone who wanted to give them to me.

At the end of the newsletter I had my own section to put my thoughts and observations.
Oddly enough, I titled it "The View From Here". Sound familiar?
In all honesty I don't recall thinking about the newsletter section when I named my blog. Quite a coincidence though.

This is what I wrote at that time. Check out the confidence and enthusiasm!

The View from Here

By Tim Scammell, CET - Membership Director

Well folks, you have now seen some opinions and memories from a few of us on the Board of Directors of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc. John Leroux has said again that even though the station looks sad and past the point of no return this isn’t the case. The consultants have taken a good hard look and this is what they have said. I wish it was the music to our ears that we are listening for but the cold hard fact remains that there is much work and many dollars ahead of us to get this done.
The Irvings have worked hard and have shown that they aren’t going to abandon us now. But nothing is ever given on a silver platter without effort and a show of motivation on the part of the recipient. Irving has made it clear that they have an open mind when it comes to the station. Everyone is working hard to determine the best way to get any repairs done and turn the station back into a useful, active building while maintaining its historical feel and atmosphere.
If I personally had the money I would love to pay whatever the cost to have the station fixed up. What a wonderful building to have an office or restaurant in! But, the fact remains that it’s going to take more money than I have in my bank account. Irving will work with a good idea that we find and contribute towards the repairs if they deem it to be feasible. I would expect the same if it were me.
One thought that occurs to me is that if the Exhibition grounds to the west of the station were developed it could only be positive for our cause. There is talk of this development presently. It would raise the profile of the entire west side of the city and positive attention would be directed to the area. That’s only my opinion however and I realize that there are those who would disagree with it.
All the years of growing up my family visited Fredericton from Ontario to visit my grandmother on Hanson Street and other family and friends in the city. I don’t know why it is but for the life of me I can’t remember what the station looked like back then. I don’t even remember what it looked like when there were trains and tracks in the area. I know that they were here though. Gary Scott has shown me some great pictures that he took. I’m positive that I was coming here back then. I guess I just wasn’t paying attention until I came to live here and the trains were long gone. It’s so true that we don’t miss something and we take it for granted until it is gone. It makes me sad that the former grandeur of the station as shown in the pictures is nowhere to be seen except in our hopes and memories. But at least these hopes and memories exist to serve as a catalyst for what we are striving for. It is for this reason that I am staying the course and doing what I can. We all are.
Every time I drive by the station I force myself to look past the battered exterior and deeper into the heart of a building which served as a vital part of Fredericton and the province not so long ago.
Please remember that if you have a memory or comment that you would like to share please contact me and I will be happy to include it in the next newsletter.
I want to thank you all so much again for showing us that you care by joining us and supporting us. It is deeply appreciated.

Take care,
Tim Scammell, CET

Bill always kept our spirits up. I sure do miss him.

This is an article written by another one of the directors. I liked it very much so I'm putting it here.

For me the train station is like so many older buildings in Fredericton that stimulate feelings of a different time and way of life. Like the front steps and doors to UNB's oldest building and the chapel within. You can't be in that setting without feeling the presence of those that have come before.
Watching the building deteriorate over the last several years is like watching the place that holds the history of the site disappear. When I have been on site I don't just see the dilapidated state, I can feel the many nights when people were stranded in the building waiting to be picked up during a storm, or the site of people sleeping on a bench waiting for their train to arrive, the excitement of children waiting to go on their first train ride or greet relatives as they arrived from away. The ticket master, the pocket watch, the excitement of visiting royalty, the simplicity of the day. In it's day that was the center of modern transportation, the way in which the country was linked, that was the modern day way to travel.
It may be my age but it seems to me that even though we have advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few decades we could never reproduce the architecture, setting and history that this building offers as it would not be considered financially feasible. The station has a lot of stories hidden within the space. It would be a shame to let these stories deteriorate with the physical presence of the building.

There is a good writeup about the station on Wikipedia. Check it out.

I'm not going to go into all of the various newspaper articles and interviews here. Those who know me know everything already.

Is this thing over? Is there any hope for the station anymore?
To tell you the honest truth, the future looks pretty grim. If I had a recent picture I would hesitate to attach it to this blog.
When Steve took over the presidency from me he was as eager and pumped up as I was a few years ago.
Now that he has seen the garbage and passing back and forth of responsibility he is wearied.
In the beginning I drove by that beautiful little building every chance I got and often took pictures.
As time has gone by with no progress it's at the point that I try to avoid York Street so that I don't have to see it. When I do I get that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Steve is feeling this too and that makes me sad.
For those who don't know him Steve is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.
He's an amazing family man and hard worker.
He doesn't say much or say it very loudly. I believe he comes from the "speak softly and carry a big stick" school of thinking.
His passion is everything railway. His blog is the best I have seen focused on a specific topic. It's here
I have a heck of a lot of respect for him and he knows this.
When I first moved to New Brunswick and sought out information about the rails here (lack of), Steve's web site was the first one I discovered.
He became a member of the Friends as soon as we took memberships.
Since then he has been along for every step.
In my mind when someone as passionate and dedicated as Steve loses the spark, the cause is lost.
Or very close to it.

It would be very nice if some ray of hope could suddenly shine down on us and rev us up again.
It hurts me more than anything to confess that I'm not holding my breath.
However, if it does Steve knows that I'm here to stand beside him again to give it another shot.


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