With the beginnings of tales for the family repetoire , Mum and Dad climbed aboard the passenger train at Tabarette heading toward Snake Creek .
Snake Creek was located on the east banks of the Ottawa River about half an hour's ride by train north of Mattawa . The CPR traced the river cutting by the canyons of the Laurentian Highlands and bridging creeks and rivers that emptied into the Great River . The area around the mouth of the creek created a level platform on which people had made camp over several thousand years ...a natural adit to the interior search for furs and a fishing spot to fill hungry stomachs .
A small stop at Snake Creek in the 1890's gave passengers a break to stretch their legs in a walkabout .There were a few houses and a store that supported the CPR's trek to Temiscaming . While the train downloaded cargo and mail and took on other mail and orders from inhabitants along the line , passengers could dismount to vent their lungs clear of the sooty smoke that inevitably filtered into passenger cars from the powerful locomotives that pulled them north . Occasionally , a passenger got off or on the train . As in all small stops along the line , the local inhabitants always rushed to the station to see what news could be gleaned from what they saw and overheard .
The CPR employee who operated the mail/cargo car took on cargo and letters to be forwarded up or down the line . Inside the car , he sorted and labelled things as to which stop it was destined to reach and what transfer points may be required to get it to its destination . He then placed it in the the car according to how far it was to travel . Before the next stop , he had gathered the items for drop-off . When he rolled open the big door at the next official stop , freightage and mail was quickly off-loaded onto a freight cart at a station or into the arms of a designated receiver at a small stop ( like the store owner at Snake Creek ) . He took on what was waiting , along with the fees for shipping . Locals oftened slipped little messages and packages to familiar passengers for drop off somewhere along the line to avoid paying the fees . The Snake Creek stop was still in use in late spring 1947 when my parents got off the southbound passenger train to take up residence .
Since all section houses were situated away from the activity around a station or stopping place , the Snake Creek house was located up the line near the signal switches . When locomotive engineers reached that spot , they knew the caboose was clear to pick up speed .
This house was a big 'step up' from the Tabarette house since it had a closed-in back porch , a front veranda and a little storage shed out back near the outhouse ... all indications that a minor official had at least once occupied the house . Some unknown sectionman's wife had patiently maintained flowers beds at the front and they were in bloom that June when my parents approached for the first time .