Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Suspicious Fires

CN Rail Trestle Bridge on fire near Mayerthorpe, Alberta

Glancing through the news headlines this morning...I had to get to RT before finding out about the huge railway trestle fire in Alberta.  It wasn't in the Canadian media headlines and so I went back to the CBC and found it on the back pages.

When I was in my early 20's and then later on when I was raising my two sons...I travelled Canada coast to coast by train. I've done it five times in all. In the 1990's,  I took my sons when they were pre-teenagers so they could appreciate the vastness and beauty of Canada. It is truly awe-inspiring. It takes four days to travel from Vancouver to Halifax.  I never bought a berth (waaaaay too expensive). We took sleeping bags and slept in our seats. One night back in the 1990's when I was taking my sons...I was so stiff sleeping sitting up all the time that I actually crept under the seats and slept on the floor.  I could feel the train wheels rumbling...racing through the night...across the Prairies. The speed was kind of scary but I had great faith in the integrity of CN rail...It is one of the immutable Canadian institutions, after all.  Well...a week after that trip...there was a terrible accident on that train at night...while travelling through the prairies. It became derailed. One person was killed...they blamed disrepair in the tracks for the accident.  I have always believed that every Canadian child who graduates from high school should get a railway pass across Canada as a graduation gift from the government.  Think of the economic benefits alone.  But that's not the kind of expenditure/investment the Canadian government...with its NATO obligations...dontchaknow...is interested in. In Fact, railway travel has unfortunately become exponentially more difficult and expensive since I was young. Now, a cross Canada train trip is a dream vacation for the very rich.

One thing that always struck me was the fragility of the railway infrastructure...built as it is, mostly from wood and being left unsecured out in the wilderness.  It is exposed to the extreme weather elements of freezing and thawing and then, of course...there is possible sabotage.  Now, Mayerthorpe, Alberta has got kind of a sketchy reputation in Canada. If memory serves...that's where the extremist Doukhobors live. They're an immigrant community that came originally from Russia in the early 1900's. Back in the 50's and 60's they were always in the news because they didn't want to conform to ordinary Canadian laws...like schooling the children, etc. If the Doukhobor women got angry, they would bare their breasts in protest as I recall. Mainly they did it in court before the judge. This, of course, caused quite a stir in prudish Canadian society.

So, they say the railway fires were likely caused by arson. Who would benefit from this type of thing? First Nations have been known to protest over land pillage and oil/mining misuse of land. We haven't heard anything from the Doukhobors for years...no doubt they've assimilated by now.  Could it be ISIS? They've threatened to come to North America, haven't they?  Could it be some kind of economic saboteurs...say a security company wanting to provide very expensive "enhanced security systems" for the trains? Could it be bored teenagers getting high in the hinterland setting the fires?

A good, healthy reward should provide some clues if it's a local crime. If it's not local...probably not. But that, (receiving no results to a local reward) is a clue, in and of itself...right?


Peter, Paul and Mary singing Bob Dylan's Dream
This song actually played through my mind
 during my first cross Canada Train Trip out West in 1967

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