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Countess of Dufferin evokes the glory days of Winnipeg



Meet the Countess of Dufferin.
We did so today at the Winnipeg Railway Museum.
Built in 1872, and named after the wife of the Earl of Dufferin, Canada’s third governor-general, she was the first locomotive to operate in the Canadian prairies.
She arrived in Canada in 1877 and served for more than 30 years. In 1992, through the cooperation of CP Rail, CN Rail and VIA Rail, she moved to her permanent home on Track 1 in Winnipeg’s Union Station.
The museum is inside the Station, where it occupies 37,500 square feet. This I learned from Doug Bell, president of the Midwest Railway Association, a nonprofit organization that runs the place.
The Countess belongs to the glory days of Winnipeg. In 1881, with a population of 12,000, the city was a contender: third-fastest-growing in North America, after only New York and Chicago. 
In the early 1900s, railroaders hired the same architects for Winnipeg and New York. They built Union Station (1911), visible from our room in the Fort Garry Hotel (1913), as a prototype for Grand Central Station (1914).
Winnipeg was bound for greatness.  What happened? In 1914, the opening of the Panama Canal transformed shipping and devastated railways and railway centres throughout North America.
(Photos: Sheena Fraser McGoogan. Behind the VIA-Rail Station, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, opening in 2014).


Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.

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