Monday, October 01, 2007

Murder Mystery Train Ride

The Waterloo Central Railway operates a train that runs between the city and the market district in and around the town of St. Jacobs. On market day, tourists can purchase a return trip ticket and be dropped off to shop for a couple of hours. The train has special runs from time to time and this weekend marked the premiere Murder Mystery Train Ride.

My daughters and I love Agatha Christie's novels and have read most of them. We enjoy Miss Marple, Poirot, and Tommy and Tuppence in their small screen versions. (I don't care for the latest Marple movies from ITV. Too many liberties are taken in the stories.)We could not resist the opportunity of a train ride with food and a staged play in the style of a classic Christie mystery.

Passengers were encouraged to dress up for the event and some came decked out in the elegant fashions of the Art Deco period. The train left near dusk and travelled out of the city and into the countryside, through fields and Old Order Mennonite farms, over trestles and ravines.

There were about 100 passengers and we were a lively bunch, waving out the windows and singing along with the musicians who could play any request on the violin and accordion.
Every so often, actors would pass through the cars. We used our printed hand outs to follow clues that would identify possible suspects in the murder of Miss Body on this very train.

Intermission was on the platform at St. Jacobs and more food was set out along with hot drinks for our enjoyment. By the time we started back home, an almost full harvest moon rose above the horizon. The police were waiting for the suspect back at the Waterloo station and the night ended two and a half hours after we started.

Commuter trains run through communities in southern Ontario into Toronto. Business travellers of today are plugged into their own electronic gadgetry or have their faces buried in a newspaper. This train ride was a social experience that few people today enjoy. I took the train several times as a teenager and young adult, but passenger trains are no longer in fashion.

The Becka is wanting to go across Canada by train now. My mother did that trip with her family in the 1940's and it would be fun to retrace her journey.

Do you have train ride memories? This month the regular diesel engine is being replaced by a steam engine for some runs. I am sure none of my readers are old enough to remember steam!


  1. Hi Ruth,
    That train ride sure looked like a lot of fun.

    I miss the trains...there used to be a freight train through town when we were growing up and us and the neighbor kids used to race our bikes out to the tracks when we heard the whistle of the engine coming towards town.

    My mom would take us on the train to Chicago to visit my grandparents when we were little. It was a great adventure to travel by train and all of us kids have vivid memories of those trips.

  2. That sounds like it was so much fun. Michael and I went to a Samhain Ball last year and it was Murder Mystery themed, I loved it!

    I rode trains to and from school most of my life. They are pretty normal too me and probably most who have lived in Europe. Actually I was a little bewildered that Spokane didn't have a metro when I moved here...

  3. That sounds like so much fun! I've always loved Agatha Christie myself and she seems to have a thing about trains.

    As a side note, the new Miss Marples have annoyed me terribly. It seems like ITV has absolutely no respect for the story that Agatha Christie wrote.

  4. When we were a "cool" 8&13 years of age, Grandpa sent us home on the train after vacation. But get this, a box of carrots in our over head comp.with greens peaking out of the box - tied with rope. We were so humiliated!But, we were so cool we bought Mom a red handled broom and proudly carried it.Thanks for the memories.

  5. Oh, I love Agatha Christie too. The train ride sounds (and from the pictures looks) like a hoot. We just did a short run on an old steam engine train ourselves ... but not near as an exciting event as yours.

    For our honeymoon 3 years ago, we took a month off to take the train across Canada ... sleeping cars, the whole bit and came back from New York State side. An experience we are really glad for.

    Another trip we took was from Vancouver, on the old B.C. Rail line, to 100 Mile House (the train actually went as far as Prince George) ... they closed the operation the end of the month we took the ride in. So sad because it really was a great trip. A private company has taken over the run and the price has gone up considerably (though it wasn't really cheap when we took it!)

    You have more opportunities in the east for trains, with regular runs etc ... not so the west.

    Glad you had such an enjoyable time!

  6. Ruth,

    What fun. I have only been to an elaborate train museum in Baltimore and we loved it as kids. I've ridden Amtrak but that doesn't count.

    It would be nice to take a passenger train ride but it's a thing of the past, unfortunately.

  7. I did the train thing a few times between Miramichi, NB and Montreal and all I can say is I'll pass if the opportunity every arises again :-)
    Our Lori is an Agatha Christie buff. She would love the trip you and Becka took

  8. Ruthie- "Taking the train to Chicago" sounds classic. I think all children like trains.

    Jaspenelle- Europe does train travel well. No wonder Dame Christie used them as a setting in her stories so often. Murder Mystery themes are popular for parties. This is the first one I have seen staged on a train.

    Maureen- I are like you and cannot tolerate great diversions from the original story. Usually I have read a book before I see it in a movie. Books rule!

    Jean- What a great train memory. A red broom and a box of carrots no less! I remember boarding a train at the edge of the tracks between stations. The people we were staying with just flagged the train down.

    CS- I know we would need a good month for a train trip across Canada. And it isn't cheap, but would be so much more fun than flying. My daughter wants to do it for the Winter Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver.

    Mary- Amtraks and subways aren't the same for sure. The leisurely pace is important for the old-fashioned train experience. Imagine those super fast trains in Japan. The scenery must be a blur.

    Miramichi to Montreal is a long trip. I went from Kitchener to Montreal once (return) and almost finished knitting a sweater! That is why you need a murder to pass the time. ;-)

  9. Ruth, I've wanted to ride a Murder Mystery train! Must put it on my list of "Things to Do in the Next 10 Years..."

    I've taken the train from Heidelberg to Paris several times. Now, there's a fast train that only takes 3 hours, can you believe it? One of my favorite cities!

  10. I've taken a train to new York to see a ballgame. I've also taken rides on an old refurbished passenger train.I find it very relaxing. We have those murder mystery trips on some pary boats around here. My sisters enjoyed them.-Nice post!

  11. A murder mystery on a boat would be a great party too. You are right. Train travel is relaxing...much more so than driving a car.

  12. hi glad you enjoyed the train ride i was one of the actors on the train, Walter the young tennager with the black hat and vest. Thanks for riding the train.
    WCR volunteer

  13. Hi Evan,
    Thanks for commenting. I do have a picture of you too, but I didn't post all of them here. Cathy tells me I missed the last Mystery Train ride this month :-(

  14. Anonymous7:42 pm GMT-4

    Hi Ruth; We at the Waterloo Central Railway were very pleased to see your post. I hope you come visit us again! The web link you show above is out of date... it should be . We have a few special trains per year so I hope you will come for one.

    Kevin Street Director Of Marketing
    Waterloo Central Railway
    519 885-2297

  15. Mr. Street,
    Thanks for commenting. I have updated the link.


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