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. Some of the most popular excursions were to the beach. In the first half of the twentieth century the Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railways operated competing beach resorts; one at Winnipeg Beach the other at Grand Beach.

This hooked rod helped the train’s conductor or porter to make the passengers’ journey more pleasant. If it were a hot day he could open even the highest windows with it. When it got dark, the rod allowed him to turn on the gas and light the lamps.

Though most passengers preferred to have the lamps on this was not always the case. 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.

The Moonlight Special would leave Winnipeg at 5:00pm 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 to kiss privately 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 usually won out as the conductors often just gave up.

See CNR Arrival/Departure Board-Grand Beach Station