Laplante, Mary

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                                       MARY LAPLANTE
                                      By Brian Richard


For the past seven years the employees of VIA Rail have been celebrating Christmas in a giving atmosphere for “Mother.” The Ocean Limited which travels between Halifax and Moncton, Newcastle and Montreal has been greeted by an older woman in Newcastle for the past 40 years. Mary LaPlante of Roger Street, whose home is only 100 yards from the CN rail tracks, waves to the employees on the train coming and leaving Newcastle.

Kenny Noel of Riverview, trainman for VIA Rail, presented Mrs. LaPlante her annual turkey, ham, and an envelope containing money for her Christmas.

In 1977, Lionel Richard of Moncton, then CN conductor, decided that he was going to buy the woman, known by only the name of Mother, a turkey for Christmas. “I mentioned it to Kenny and he said he wanted to go half. Our engineer, Cecil Colpitts, heard us talking and said count me in for a third,” said Richard. “A few other employees heard what was going on and we raised enough money for a turkey, ham, and by 1980, we had over $300 as well.”

Mrs. LaPlante has greeted trains to and from Newcastle for the past 40 years, and up and until 1977, didn’t know any of the men on the train. “I was really surprised when Lionel came to the door seven years ago telling me he had a gift from the boys on the train,” said Mrs. LaPlante. “I enjoyed waving to them and they always wave back, they are really friendly.”

In 1980, the train already five hours late stopped in front of the LaPlante home and all of the employees got off the train and went down to visit Mother and wish her a Merry Christmas. “It was really a moving experience,” said Richard. “It was the first time any of them got a chance to meet her in person.”

Last year at the age of 81, Mrs. LaPlante was sick for a couple of weeks. The men on the train, realizing Mother wasn’t there to greet them, inquired and found out she was in the hospital, they raised $57 on the trip and bought her a fruit basket.

“Ever since the boys on the train have been coming to see me at Christmas, our Christmases have really been good,” said Mrs. LaPlante.


Source: Miramichi Weekend – December 23, 1983

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