Chapter: Fun and Games

Rod used to light gas lamps

"It's a reach..."
1880-1900s rod used to light gas lamps & open coach windows. Rod to light gas lamps


Before private vehicle ownership was common, almost everyone relied on the trains. The railway was not just for long trips across Canada but also for short excursions. This hooked rod helped the conductor or porter to make the passengers' journey more pleasant. If it was a hot day he could open the highest windows with it. When it got dark, he could turn on the gas and then light the lamps. There was however one route where the passengers always turned the lamps off.

In the first half of the twentieth century the Canadian National (CN) and the Canadian Pacific (CP) railways operated competing beach resorts, one at Winnipeg Beach the other at Grant Beach. One of the most popular attractions at both resorts, especially with young people, was their large dance pavilions. To get people out to dance for the night there was a train called the Moonlight Special. It would leave Winnipeg at 5:00 p.m. and return by midnight. On the return trip of the Moonlight Special passengers were always busy turning off the gas lamps. This would then allow young couples privacy to kiss in the dark. The conductor would turn the lamps back on, only to have them turned off again as soon as his back was turned. Young love would win out as the conductors usually just give up.