© David Watts 2002
More than twenty years ‘fore Confederation, twelve before B.C.
Vancouver Isle was our western toe below where the border line would be
Joined with the mainland and Canada, but soon she felt let down
When the C.P.R. stopped at Coal Harbour to build Vancouver town.
The electors of Victoria raised hell with their M.P.
And “old tomorrow”, Sir John A. Macdonald, was the one it chance to be
Now when your M.P. is P.M., you’re not used to hearing “no”
You were promised a train as your ticket to Canada—now make it so.
Up the Malahat and back each day through towns along the Sea
At Parksville a branch to the mill Port west at Alberni
There’s not much freight but people wait at the station for a ride
To hold the line, one more time till the turning of the tide.
Sir John called on coal baron Robert Dunsmuir to make the promise good:
“If you build me a line in record time, I’ll see you have your reward”
Robert Dunsmuir started Craigdarroch Castle that he never lived to see
But he saw the last spike at Cowichan Lake nine months after Craigellachie
The E. & N. started out independent but didn’t stay that way long
The Dunsmuir interests sold her off and the C.P. took her on
They extended her north to Courtenay, west to Alberni’s Port
Then in ’99 to Rail America, they farmed her out.
Now the E. & N. has outlived many attempts to do her in:
From neglect of the track to funds cut back she’s held thru’ thick and thin
When Brian Mulroney slashed VIA by half cross Canada on one day
A B.C. court said “Here you don’t: this Island line will stay.”
Other Island provinces had their railways ran in days gone by
You may’ve heard of the Newfie Bullet, the Express on P.E.I.
They lost those trains as the climate changed, the steel is lifted, gone
But the E. & N. hasn’t followed them, she just keeps chuggin’ along.