Martin C. Barry
Canadian National engine No. 6710, one of the first and last “boxcab electric” locomotives to serve on the Montreal-Deux Montagnes commuter rail line from 1918 to 1995, will be moved by the end of this month to a new location on Oka Rd., after being on display for decades outside Deux Montagnes’s main commuter train station.
CDPQ Infra to pay
According to Deux-Montagnes mayor Denis Martin, an agreement between the city and CDPQ Infra when the company expropriated the Deux-Montagnes train station to build the new REM train terminal stipulated that the historic CN engine would be moved to a new location at CDPQ Infra’s expense.
“Because it’s part of our history, a decision was taken to bring it to a good spot at the entrance to the city,” said the mayor, noting the location just on the edge of the Mille-Îles River is more picturesque and more people will see the engine.
A permanent spot for the unit with a section of closed railway track has already been set up in a green space with a parking area on the south side of Oka Rd. across from the public library. “I don’t exactly know what date, but we should have it moved there by the end of the month,” said Mayor Martin.
City to pay for painting
While CDPQ Infra is paying for the relocation as well as for installing the trackage to place the engine on, the City of Deux-Montagnes will be footing the bill to repaint and refurbish the outer appearance of the electric locomotive, he added.
As well, according to the mayor, the city plans to put up a sign or plaque of some sort with information on the history of the engine and its significance in Deux-Montagnes. He said the city plans to obtain a tourism promotion subsidy from the MRC Deux-Montagnes to pay for the refurbishment and paint job.
“The painting will probably be done only in the early spring,” he continued. “We’re not going to do it at this time of year. There’s a lot of traffic on Oka Rd., so a lot of people will see it at the entrance to Deux-Montagnes.
‘Preserve history,’ says mayor
“And the way we’ve been looking at it, it does not block anybody’s view so it’s a good spot and we’re happy to keep it,” he added. “If we weren’t doing this, we wouldn’t know what to do with it. We think it’s important to preserve history like this. There’s even parking there, so it was the perfect spot.”
According to an online encyclopaedia source, CN engine No. 6710 is one of six “boxcab electric” locomotive units that were built by General Electric for the now defunct Canadian Northern Railway in 1917.
CNoR built the Mount Royal Tunnel, carrying rail traffic up the line to Deux-Montagnes. When the Canadian Northern Railway went out of business, it was merged in 1923 into the Canadian National Railway.
The first and the last
According to the online source, engine No. 6710 was the first of the series of locomotives to inaugurate the Mount Royal Tunnel in 1918, and was the last of its kind to arrive at Central Station in Montreal on June 2, 1995 when it was retired from service.
Of the four remaining boxcab electric units, one (No. 6711, which is said to have pulled the last train along with No. 6710) is preserved at Exporail in Delson, Quebec). Another (No. 6714) is preserved at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor, Connecticut U.S.A. No. 6715 is preserved at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. And, of course, No. 6710 is in Deux-Montagnes where it is the property of the city.