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Armchair Brakeman
The Tshiuetin Railway

The Tshiuetin Railway is a railroad not many Americans would have the opporitunity to ride on. It is located in northeastern Canada and travels between Sept-Iles in Quebec, thru Labrador and finally ends in Schefferville, Quebec. This line was formerly the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway (QNS&L) which sold the line to the Innu Nation in 2005.  Most of the passengers are native Indian (First Nation Peoples), but there is also a smattering of adventuress travelers (like myself) who ride the line.

There are a number of ways to get to Sept-Iles, Quebec for the start of the train trip.
1. You can fly-- Air Canada flies from Montreal to Sept-Iles.

2. You can take the Intercar bus from Montreal to Sept-Ilse. This is a scenic ride along the St Lawrence coast and is an interesting way to travel.

3. You can do as I did.   
I took a train from Montreal to a town called Rimouski Quebec. From Rimouski, I took the M/V Nordic Express, a 1,865-ton cargo and passenger ship operated by Relais Nordik that left weekly from Rimouski to Sept-Isles and then on to points further east and north. Because of the timing, I was not able to return via the M/V Nordic Express, so I settled for the bus trip.

I started my trip from Windsor, Ontario. Windsor is across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan. There are no through trains to Rimouski from Windsor so I had to travel to Toronto, Ontario, change trains, travel to Montreal, change trains again and proceed to Rimouski, Quebec. I stayed overnight at Rimouski and caught the ship the next afternoon. We arrived in Sept-Iles at midnight and I stayed in town that night and the next since the Tshiuetin only travels north on Thursdays. The train left at 0900 sharp.

The young lady that sold me the train tickets suggested I stay in the no-smoking car at the back of the train and that was a very good suggestion. Within a short time the other cars were filled with cigarette smoke. Almost every one seems to smoke.

The actual trip was a wilderness adventure. Shortly after we left Sept Iles the streets ended and wilderness set in. There were very few houses along the way and people in the car that had taken the trip before said there was a good chance of seeing fox or moose along the tracks. I kept my eyes peeled for wild game but saw no animals.

When we reached the junction for Labrador City there was no train station. The passengers transferring to the Labrador City train had to transfer via a wood platform placed between the passenger cars as the trains were parked next to each other on parallel tracks. That was the first time I saw that.

Since this was April I figured that the weather would be spring-like. I was mistaken. As we left Sept-Iles the clouds started to cover the sky and the temperature dropped steadily. By the time we reached Schefferville there was six inches of snow on the ground and the temperature was –20 C.

One of my companion passengers in the no smoking car was Denis Connell, the V.P. of Distribution for Railpace News Magazine. He was on the trip for enjoyment and also to take pictures for his magazine. When we got to Schefferville he asked me if I could help him take some pictures of the train while it was parked for the night. We spent the better part of the evening taking pictures of the train as the sun sank behind the tree line and the temperature plummeted. My job was to hold the flash units where he positioned them. It was interesting and I was glad to help.

I stayed overnight in Schefferville at The Guest House, 550 Starr Creek, Schefferville QC, PH418 585 2520. They had a taxi waiting for me when the train arrived which was very welcome given my light jacket and the six inches of snow on the ground.

Schefferville is only about 2 km from the Labrador border and has about 200 residents (many of which are from the Montagnais tribe). The town used to be the site of a massive iron ore mining operation but for the last couple of decades has been used mostly by hunters looking for caribou.

The following morning, the train leaves Schefferville at 0900 and arrives in Sept-Iles at 2100. I stayed overnight again in Sept-Iles and caught the Intercar Bus to Montreal. From Montreal I made my way to Toronto and then finally to Windsor safe and sound.






Labrador engine
Labrador engine display



M.N. Nordik
Inside the M/V Nordic Express



Labrador train station
Labrador train station



Sherville from the taxi
Shefferville from the taxi




Guest house in Shefferville
Guest house in Shefferville