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A Love Story

On Christmas Eve, Mac Crozier hurriedly made his way through the bustling crowds at Union Station in Toronto to catch his train to Renfrew. He was heading home for the holiday weekend to see his family. It would be a short visit; he’d be back to work on Monday morning, but he was looking forward to it nonetheless.

Period photograph of Mac Crozier and seven of his co-workers at De Havillands Ltd, 1942

Mac Crozier (bottom right), with his coworkers at De Havilland – 1942

It was busy on the platform and even busier on the train, so Mac took the very first seat next to the steps. As he was arranging his coat, and a small parcel in the luggage rack, he noticed another passenger having difficulty getting up the steps. The poor woman was nearly smothered under all her parcels. Mac quickly lent a hand, lightening the load and helping her up the steps, but by the time she and her packages made their way aboard, there were no seats available. Ever the gentleman, he invited her to use the other half of his seat. Over the course of the journey, Mac and his new seat companion, Nora Pennett, pleasantly chatted about their families, their lives in Toronto, and exchanged addresses.

Photograph of Nora Pennett posing in a fur coat and clutching her purse in Toronto, 1942

Nora Pennett in Toronto – 1942

When they reached Smiths Falls, Nora gathered her parcels together to change trains, heading to Perth. Going back to work on Monday, Mac took a chance and said, if she didn’t mind, he would watch for her at the station in Smiths Falls on their return journey. “Thank you very much. That would be nice. I’ll look forward to seeing you then,” she replied. “Merry Christmas!”

A Missed Connection

When Mac boarded the train in Renfrew that Sunday night, he couldn’t help but look forward to seeing Nora. At least, he hoped he would be able to see her. He wasn’t sure at this point, given the weather and the crowds. Mac took his place on the coach right behind the engine. He had never looked forward to Smiths Falls so much.

Sitting at the station in Almonte, Mac heard the signal for the train to carry on its journey. Suddenly, chaos erupted. The luggage fell. The windows shattered. He saw a great gap open in the train where the conductor had stood just a moment before. Mac’s half of the train had been pushed nearly 50 meters away from the station, while the other half lay behind in shambles.

It wasn’t until nearly 11:00 PM that he was able to continue his journey. By the time he arrived in Toronto, the front pages of the newspapers  had already carried the stories of the countless casualties in Almonte. A sudden realization dawned on him that after missing his meeting with Nora, she might think he had been injured or killed. Although it was still early, he made his way to the address he had jotted down just three short days before. It somehow seemed a lifetime ago. He knocked at the front door and waited.

“Excuse me,” said Mac, when a young woman opened the door, “Would Miss Pennett be in?”

“Yes, she is, but just who are you?”

“Mac Crozier.”

Wedding photograph of Mac & Nora Crozier standing outside a house in Toronto, 1943

Mac & Nora’s Wedding – November 1943

Mac could still remember the look of surprise that crossed her face as she shouted, “Mac Crozier? You can’t be! My sister says you must be dead. We’ve been looking for your name in the list of people killed in that awful train wreck. You’re supposed to be dead!”

In November 1943, less than a year after they met, Mac Crozier and Nora Pennett were married. On that day, Mac couldn’t help but remember the crowds, the parcels, the noise of the glass shattering; all the various circumstances that led to their meeting and led them to that day.