FINCH – Though the timing may not be ideal, community groups and others involved are still eager with anticipation for the CP Holiday Train’s stop in this North Stormont village.
The rail company announced recently its roster of locations for the 2017 tour. Finch’s whistle stop, the third in as many years, is set for Mon., Nov. 27, with arrival expected around 2:30 pm, and the event to continue through until 3:15 pm.
Those looking to take part will find the stop at the tracks adjacent to James Street, between William and George Streets, not far from the village community centre.
Like it has throughout its decades-long run, two trains will operate coast-to-coast under the Holiday Train banner, with nearly 150 shows held throughout November and December.
Since the launch in 1999, the program has helped to generate millions in both dollars and food items for communities along CP’s routes.
This year’s lighted locomotive rolling through Finch will feature Canadian rock and blues legend Colin James, and pop singer Emma-Lee.
The key benefactor of the local stop in recent years, aside from the uptick of spirit in the township, has been Community Food Share, which has reeled in thousands of dollars in donations, and an equal intake of food donations.
At this stage, organization administrator Ian McKelvie admits he’s “not sure” how a Monday stop will work.
“We’ve been fortunate to have it two Sunday afternoons in a row, which is great,” he said. “But, it’s the nature of the train, having to make it from Montreal to Vancouver in just a few weeks. There are some places who get it on a weekday morning, so it is bad timing in a sense for us, but we’ll see what we can do.”
McKelvie added that he’s already been in contact with North Stormont staff about how to promote this year’s stop, and key organizers, including township organizers, are eager to meet and plan this year’s itinerary.
“Of course there is concern that the crowd size might be down, and in turn the donations down, but for those who can’t be there, we could still really use the support,” he said.
Hindsight being what it is, McKelvie noted that having had two weekend stops in the past really helped to build momentum for the train’s arrival.
“If we would have started with a Monday, maybe we wouldn’t have had the success that we had,” he said.
One possible idea being floated is the placement of drop boxes for food items from those that cannot make it out for the train’s stop.
“We’ll soon have something figured out, and hopefully the community will respond as they can,” McKelvie said.
After Finch, the train heads on down the line for stops in Merrickville, Smiths Falls, and Perth before heading for locales in central and southern Ontario.
As it plans for the Holiday Train’s stop, Community Food Share is also celebrating its showing in the Egg Farmers of Ontario’s recent Beat Hunger competition.
The area charity finished in second place, with nearly 7,000 votes cast in its favour through the Facebook-led contest.
For its showing, Community Food Share will receive 400 dozen eggs.
“We thought it would be fun to enter, not thinking we had a chance against much larger communities,” McKelvie said. “We ran a couple of Facebook posts, and the next thing we knew we were in the top five and the momentum started to build from there.”
For a short time, Community Food Share found itself in first place, before jockeying back and forth for the top spot with the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.
“It was terrific to see the community get behind [us],” McKelvie said. “We really showed those city folks we weren’t going to be pushovers.”