Brockville, Ontario



Humidity: 84%

Wind: S at 6 mph

The Fine Print

The 6060 in Brockville

She was built in 1944, at Montreal Locomotive Works, from a family of twenty locomotives of the same design, and has hauled steel on steel in this country for over half a century. At 93 feet in length, and 15 feet high, the CN 6060, is the largest operating steam locomotive in Canada. She has been retired and reborn at least twice, her steam power running passengers back and forth on Canadian National lines. The steam locomotive affectionately known as "Bullet-nosed Betty" has had the same man at her controls for 50 years, locomotive engineer Harry Home. He took over the controls of the beloved steam engine in 1960, and still handles the throttle today.

She rolled off the floor in Montreal in October of 1944 and was painted CN green during World War II, when locomotives were in demand, but iron was needed elsewhere. The 6060 was one of 20 locomotives of the same design. Weighing in at almost 640,000 pounds, she held coal and water, and was later converted to oil. Every five years, she would be completely stripped down and rebuilt, as part of the expensive maintenance and operation of these steam-powered beasts. The 6060 has been run at up to 85 mph, an impressive feat, considering that modern VIA diesel locomotives will run at 100 mph. The group of steam locomotives were broke in on the Montreal to Brockville run, and hauled passengers on the Continental Ltd. from Toronto to Nakina, Ontario trains 1 & 2 and out of Ottawa to Nakina - trains 3 & 4. The 6060 served Canadian National for fifteen years before being retired in Jasper, Alberta, to be put on display there three years later. Two sister locomotives are on display: The 6069 in Sarnia, and the 6077 in Capreol, which I have read is also being restored. But the 6060 seems to be the favourite, and it would not be the last time steam boiled inside her...Another decade passed, and Canadian National had 6060 restored to pull her weight in passengers out of Toronto to Fort Erie in 1972. She made numerous appearances in Brockville during her lifetime, and one can imagine the locomotive's massive weight being turned at the turntable which was at one time to the south of the railway tracks, in the area of Tim Horton's on William St.
The 6060 still resides in Stettler, Alberta, having been donated for the celebration of the province's centennial. Now also known as 'The Spirit of Alberta', she runs steam excursions, across the Canadian West, and hopefully will remain doing so, saved from the scrap heap by her engineer, Harry, whose team from the Rocky Mountain Railway Society have managed to keep 6060 in good repair. 6060 is a proud example of Canadian National steam power, during the romantic age of railroads.

For more info on CN 6060, visit Image with permission from the artist: My mother,   Sharon Stein.

For more stories from Dennis Stein, visit

Long Distance to the Universe

All one has to do is look up at a night sky filled with a billion stars to realize that there must be someone else out there. Put aside all the alleged UFO sightings, NASA missions and movies, and it will become clear. Out of the billion celestial bodies in the universe around us, could Earth be the one place that life could exist?

Generations of people through multiple generations and cultures have pondered this question; are we alone here on Earth? There are places here on our own world where life as we know it should NOT exist. Lake Vostok, under 4000 meters of Antarctic ice, is a freshwater lake where bacteria thrive. Geothermal vents deep in the oceans where daylight cannot penetrate and crushing pressures would surely kill anything teem with life. Even in these hostile environments life not only finds a way, but flourishes. Why then, can we not believe that there may be planets orbiting stars like our sun that provide the right conditions for beings like or unlike ourselves? If you take inventory of the Milky Way galaxy alone, you will quickly see that the solar system is but a spec on the whole scheme of things. New observations using new technology reveal planets around other stars in our locale on almost a daily basis. One of these has even had an atmosphere detected around it.

It is a common saying that people never look UP. We wander around worrying about our mortgage payment, our stresses at our job, what to have for dinner. The discoveries in recent years by NASA missions to other planets in our solar system should be enough to convince even a skeptic that there are possible environment, even hostile, which could harbour life. Some of the key elements are there, and perhaps only microbes inhabit these places, but it is still alive.

We may mostly think of extraterrestrials as 'little green men', but the truth is that life is most likely abundant throughout the universe. Many extra-solar planets may be the right size, composition, and distance from their star to be a cradle of life. There may be civilizations out there waiting to be discovered. Perhaps the visions in movies of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are not that far-fetched after all.

If life is suddenly discovered on Mars or elsewhere, the changes to our world will definitely be profound, and perhaps then, people will look UP.


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