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Creating Relationships

A Daughter's Story of the E & N Dayliner from the 1980s

Diana Manson


A man of wisdom once said that wise parents create wonderful, loving memories—ones that are solid and strong. Memories are what children take with them and use to create their family foundation of memories. If this is so, my father was a wise man who chose his time and his mem­ory creation well.

 

My father was a shy man, a father to six children, and tended to be away working in the merchant marine much of the time when we were children. Quiet to the extreme, we six never really knew the depth of his feelings or his truer nature until we had the opportunity to spend quiet, individual time with him. Oh, the rare luxury of spending time com­pletely alone with a parent, very difficult in a family of so many. My adventure with my father is one I will never forget. It helped shape the foundation of our relationship from then on and created a legacy I have shared with my three children.

 

Early one Saturday morning, shortly after my seventh birthday, my father came into my room to wake me up. As he gently shook my shoulder, he told me that it was my day to do anything I wished with him, just he and I alone.

 

"Anything," I recalled asking him, "anything?"

 

"Anything," he replied.

 

Oh bliss, I was beyond joy. Being a train fan, my heart's desire was to ride the E & N Railway from the top to the bottom of Vancouver Island.

 

For us as small children, rail watching was a way of life. Living close by the train tracks in Esquimalt, we heard the E & N Dayliner go by every morning and evening. We knew the sound of each whistle and welcomed the comforting sound of the wheels on the track. Each day we dreamt of riding the rails as passenger, of having the privilege of sitting in one of the red seats, of actually saying hello to the conductor in per­son and not just waving as the train went by. We imagined what it would be like to experience the pure luxury of having lunch on the train, of pretending to be incredibly wealthy, because of course only wealthy peo­ple could afford to ride the train in those days, or so it seemed to us, as even pennies were scarce in our home at the time.

 

Rolling over, I looked up at my father and asked the most precious question in the world.

 

"Could we take the train Dad, please . . . the train . . . could we catch it at the bottom of the road? I know it will stop for us if we call ahead."

 

I still remember the look in his eyes and the careful words he spoke to me as he considered the enormity of the request I had made. I held my breath as I looked at him. In his quiet manner he looked back at me, his face bursting into a rare, enormous smile, "I'm sure we could do just that," he said. "I'm sure we could."

The day was wonderful. We hopped off the train, many miles from home, at the top of Goldstream Park, right at the edge of the track next to the waterfall. I remember clambering down the bank through the long grass to the side of the falls. We ate lunch sitting on a patch of emerald green moss with the sun streaming through the tree branches creating amazing patterns all around.

 

After lunch, we hiked down the side trails and followed the stream for about two miles before heading back to the track at Glen Lake. With a twinkle in his eye my father asked if I would like to wait for the return of the train later in the day or walk the rest of the way home on the rails.

 

With a smile on my face, I held out my hand and we set off on the twelve-mile journey back home. Tired and full of wonder we arrived home as the sun was setting, a bond carefully formed and woven over the hours of walking, talking, and sharing.

It was many years later that I learned that my father, an avid phi­latelist, had had to finance the trip through the sale of one of his dear­est stamps.

 

To this day that recognition of unconditional love has woven its way through the fabric of our lives and that of my children's. In observing my three treasures, I am sure the legacy will continue through to their children in time to come.


DIANA MANSON, born and raised in Victoria, is an avid train enthusiast, home educator, and eco-advocate. A former inter­national consultant, she now lives on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest with the youngest of her three children amidst nature's splendours. A brilliant critical thinker, Diana is now putting pen to paper on how to create healthy, eco-friendly, allergy-free home environments.

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