"There is a season for everything under the Heavens" says the Ecclesiaste...
Jean-Pierre Veilleux left us this morning after a short and fierce fight
against cancer. He was well-known among railfans in Eastern Canada and,
I'm prt wrong obably noin saying that he was a great gentleman and that
he befriended all of us whatever our age or background.
"There is a time to speak..."
or discussing with him was always a special moment as he could be dead
serious and at the same time find his way in the weirdest conversation
possible with witty remarks. His particular sense of humour was much
appreciated and many of his colorful expressions passed down into
regular speech among local railfans. There's not a single evening at the
club without someone uttering "Toé, j't'aimais bien" or "Une autre de
même pis on ferme".
My last railfan trip with
Jean-Pierre was about two or three years ago when we followed the brand
new Massif de Charlevoix touristic train in Charlevoix. Back then his
health was already uncertain and it was evident he made everything
possible to make sure the trip would be a success. Indeed, it was...
"There is a time to build..."
Jean-Pierre was a living encyclopedia and when
we started building the layout, he was a key person in providing
factual information about Limoilou and Murray Bay Subdivision. He gave
us access to archives (both personal and Groupe TRAQ) without condition.
His sharp memories from the 50s and 60s, when he was just a kid, were
instrumental in understanding the operation pattern, motive power and
commodities moved over rail. His vivid stories about CPR trains running
in Quebec City Downtown, the Prince Edward Rounhouse, QRL&PCo
station at Carré Parent and CNR C-Liners pulling freight consists in
Limoilou Yard will stay engraved in my mind as if they were mines.
Without him, many aspects of the layout would be lifeless.
"There is a time to mourn..."
I visited him at the hospital last Wednesday with Louis-Marie, it was
no secret between him and us it would be the last time we would spend
together. While he was only a shadow of himself physically, his mind was
sharp as ever and he made sure to make this moment a significant one
for us and him. Truth to be told, you couldn't separate Jean-Pierre's
deacon vocation even in the end... He seems to have been a spiritual
force to everybody who witnessed him in his last moment... Rarely you
have the occasion to discuss life and death with a person having a deep
and genuine spirituality like Jean-Pierre. While he knew how to put a
smile on our faces that evening, it was nevertheless heart wrenching
when he explained that the one departing was also a mourner, even if he
was prepared and ready for the next ride...
"There is a time to laugh..."
while there's a time for everything, I can't stop thinking this time,
Jean-Pierre took a one-way ticket for the last train to an unknown
destination... and knowing him, he is traveling first class in a classic
Ocean Limited stainless sleeper car, gently smiling gently as he used
and enjoying this new road he never travelled before...
It will soon be the time for us to wave our hands for a last time while the train leaves the station.