Valley railway anniversary today: 24 years since last Dayliner

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on January 15, 2014

During the final week of passenger rail service through the Valley two-year-old George Slipp took his first and, to this date only, train ride from Wolfville into Halifax. - File photo

It was on this date in 1990 that Wolfville Police Const. Blair MacMurtery had to arrest three protestors for mischief. They were blocking the railway track on the final day of passenger service in the Annapolis Valley.

There are those who say the construction of Highway 101 sealed the fate of the diesel dayliner service. Changes to the VIA Rail schedule and competing bus service were also blamed for the decline in passengers.

On Jan. 15, 1990, the last dayliner travelled through the Valley. Passenger trains had begun running back in the 1860s and were critical to bringing students to Acadia University and for military service during two wars.

Railway historian Gary Ness of Wolfville, who has a new book coming out, has said the 1990 federal government cuts to the VIA Rail operated service spelled the end for the Halifax-Yarmouth service.

Waterville resident Stuart Johnstone noted in the Berwick Register that there was a time “the trains were so loaded with passengers, man had to stand until others got off at various places. Very often, the conductor couldn’t make his way through the cars to pick up fares.”