Such is our progress throughout the morning that not only do we make up lost time, we actually reach Capreol ahead of schedule. VIA Rail make sure that their long distance trains enjoy padded timetables with plenty of time at servicing stops like this one to make sure that the trains can usually arrive close to on time.
The sun is shining down when train 2 disgorges several hundred passengers into the small town of Capreol. This little community must get an economic boost six times a week when the train stops here: people go down Main Street to buy snacks, newspapers and to drain the CIBC bank machine of its fresh banknotes. I turn the other way, however, and do my platform tour to the end of the train. Again, friendly VIA Rail crew greet me at every step, and I exchange a few words with the passengers I spoke to in Sioux Lookout. I turn on my heels, and re-join the crowd of coach passengers who have been into town during the thirty minute break. We make sure that a certain passenger hasn’t been tempted by any more complicated take out meals, and re-board for an on time departure at 12.55.
The rest of the day begins to drag. Much like the frustrations experienced by the smokers amongst us who can only cope by knowing exactly how long until the next smoke stop, everyone is now beginning to focus on our eight o’clock arrival in Toronto tonight. The last few hours start to slip by like whole days. Our track guides us smoothly through gentle curves, past shining lakes and through massive rock cuttings. Like the imprecise faux-landscape I constructed for my model railway as a child (using bits of rock, moss and twigs found in the garden) we’re passing through an extremely mixed scenery, of deciduous and coniferous trees, rocky outcrops, still lakes and brown wetlands.
As we come closer to the densely populated heart of southern Ontario, we start to slow through small villages and lakeside communities. The sign of the approaching metropolis is the gentrification of the countryside homes that we see. I spend most of the last few hours up in the dome car with the people I’ve met in coach class. Newspapers, books and su-doku puzzles are having less and less of a distracting effect. We attempt to occupy ourselves with other puzzles, and succeed in finding ninety-two words using only the letters in the word ‘planets’.
Yep, the day is dragging. But at least the sun is out.