[Story, WIP]The Maiden Passage of the Cabot Strait Tunnel Train

Something I’ve been working on for a while. The idea of a tunnel under the Cabot Strait is compelling to me; it has an attraction that the shorter version under the Strait of Belle Isle does not, largely because it doesn’t require a 27-hour drive to get there.  St. Paul Island is real, and is only 77 km from Port aux Basques as the crow flies, and it’s really an ecological preserve. There really is a coal deposit going well out from the coast of Cape Breton. And there really is a whales’ deep down there as far as we know. The rest, of course, is mere fiction.


Step right up, sir. Be the first man to travel over one hundred kilometres under the ocean. Experience the wonder that is the Laurentian Deeps! Mind the gap. Don’t mind the stench.

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Laurentian Mining and Transportation company, I’d like to welcome you to this, the inaugural voyage of the Cabot Strait Tunnel Train.

Boy, that’s a mouthful.

Let me introduce our staff. This man, Roy Li, is our official coordinator with the mining side of our operations. Mr. Li is a geologist by training, but he has kindly agreed for this momentous occasion to be our tour guide. He’ll explain what you’re seeing when we travel through the various ore corridors whose presence makes this venture possible. I’ll allow him to speak at you for a few moments.


Thank you, Ms. Macdonald. As our host has already mentioned, I am a geologist, although I am now a manager with Laurentian. On behalf of our company, I’d like to wish you all a safe and happy journey. I’d also like to thank the provincial governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, without whom this tunnel would not have been possible. Theirs is a vision for a bright future. Laurentian is proud to be on the leading edge in bringing that vision into being.


Thank you, Mr. Li. Before I proceed with staff introductions, I’ve been notified that we have two special guests with us today. I’ll introduce first Mrs. Darleen Kendall, Minister of Mines and Energy for Nova Scotia.  Please give her a warm welcome.


Thank you, Ms. Macdonald. On behalf of the government of Nova Scotia, I want to offer you all best wishes on this, the first of many trips through this incredible tunnel. I applaud your courage and thank you for your patronage. In some ways I wish I could come with you, but I think I would probably faint once we were underground! Anyways, good luck.


Um. Thank you, Mrs. Kendall. Someone please ensure Mrs. Kendall is allowed to exit before we depart. Now! Our other surprise guest is none other than the acting premier of Newfoundland, Mr. Ronald Donald Pardy! Please give him a very warm welcome.


Thank you very kindly for that lovely introduction, Ms. Macdonald. I would hasten to amend that I am the premier of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  As you all know, Newfoundland is an island province, and so we are very dependent on the means of transportation to and from our rocky isle.  With this tunnel, sunk deep into the rock beneath our waters, we mark a major shift in our way of life. No more is Newfoundland a splendid palace of isolation.  No more are we subject to the whims of Mother Nature for our traffic. Man has overcome the greatest of obstacles today and given us reason for hope and for excitement for the future of our island.

My father once told me that when Joey Smallwood put a road down through the middle of Newfoundland, that was the beginning of the end of our way of life. I am proud today to say that I believe that this is a new beginning for us, one that will wipe away our history and give us the access required to become a great civilization upon this good earth.

Looks like they’re about to start the train. I’ve got much more to say. I’ll just continue for now.  No worries, Ms. Macdonald, I’ll pass on the message. Ms. Macdonald has asked me to remind you to ensure that your seat belt is buckled and that you have taken the anti-nausea medication provided for you upon boarding.

It has been a long road getting to this point in the tunnel project.  Newfoundland has long wanted a way for traffic to drive directly to our island, but the reality has always been that it was prohibitively expensive to drive a tunnel underneath the Strait of Belle Isle, and the drive there would have taken you 27 hours, most of it in the wilds of Quebec and Labrador, which is no good to most people.

So I said to my cabinet, shag it, let’s put a tunnel under the Cabot. They thought I was off my head at first, but after I explained the matter to them, told them that there were mining rights that could be donated in exchange for driving the tunnels and reinforcement required for this great project, they came around to my way of thinking. That was 15 years ago today. 15 years ago, we had the first talk about this moment. I can hardly believe it’s here.

Mr. Li has informed me that the first part of our journey will be through a coal shaft! Won’t that be amazing!

Anyways, as I was saying, my government has been working on this project for 15 years. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in that time, and I thought it would be nice to bring something to help you understand how we got here. I’ve taken the liberty of loading a documentary into your media centre, and it should start playing any moment.

Oh yes, there’s us at the house, debating the motion. See that young feller there standing up? That’s me. Time flies, ladies and gentlemen. Even I was young once.

Oh, that’s Roger Critch, the bugger. He almost stopped the project five years in. Can you believe it? He claimed – falsely, of course – that we were handing down contracts inappropriately. I’ll tell you, it don’t take much to make a Newfie believe his government is crooked. I had to make a fair number of promises to keep things on track, but today we see the fruits of those promises.

Apparently we’re passing under St. Paul’s Island, St. Paul Island, sorry. I should tell you I thought we should have had the train go up above ground here, but we couldn’t get the Gee-Dee environmentalists to agree to that. Nova Scotia wasn’t much help, either. It’s only seabirds sure! Not much better than gulls!

Oh, this part of the tape is all about Paul Embree. Now Paul was important because he was the first feller to mention to me about the coal and whatnot. I knew about Sydney Mines, of course, because of the tar ponds and all that mess, but I didn’t realize how deep it all went. Paul worked over in China for a while, and down in Africa. Did you know Paul Mr Li? Oh well. He was a smart man, was Paul.

Now we get to the good stuff. Me and the Nova Scotia crowd got together over ten years ago and we chewed it out down to the penny – who got what, who had to do what. They got the train station, of course. Had to have some place to put that, and nowhere better than Cape Breton. Just so much a part of Newfoundland as Nova Scotia if you ask me.

It was some hard, though. Every time we hit a wall, they were suddenly on side with the whale crowd. B’yes, it’s a tunnel, I said. There’s hardly going to be any whales under the sea bed. I don’t understand that logic a tall.

Now there’s a funny moment. The b’yes went down in the old shaft, and one of the ministers slipped and landed in a puddle of coal mud. Black from head to foot he was! Oh my, what a laugh we had.

Now this is Jerome Sivi. Jerome was with Laurentian – Maritime Harvesting it was, then – and he was the man who did the most to make this project happen from the mining end of things. I talked him into it maybe eight or nine years ago. Oh, we had some fun shouting at each other.

What’s that, Ms. Macdonald? No, you just tell me, I’ll tell them.

Ok, ladies and gentlemen, now we get to the highlight of the trip. If you open your shade, you’ll see that we have entered the portion of the tunnel that crosses the Laurentian Deep. The tunnel section has been manufactured so as to allow you to see outside, and lights have been placed along the length of this stretch. Lord Jesus, it’s still dark as the devil. Ms. Macdonald says to tell you we are under hundreds of metres of water, and almost no sunlight penetrates so far down. She has also asked me to tell you that there is a highlights reel available in your console from the cameras which are always recording the area for research purposes.

Sir, please sit down. Sir. Sir.

Now there’s no need for violence. Please put down the gun.

Oh Jesus. There’s more than one of you. Sir, ma’am, there’s no need – what is that? Ok, here, take it, no need to –


Thank you, Mr. Pardy, you fucking piece of shit. Are we live? Good.

My name is Oliver Bellows. I am speaking to you from the whales’ deep in the Laurentian Channel. My fellow travellers and I are speaking today for the speechless. You, Mr. Pardy, have spoken too much and listened too little. This tunnel, which has devastated irreplaceable habitat, cannot, will not be allowed to stand.

Blow it, Mary.


Tonight: Tragedy in the deeps: terrorists appear to have infiltrated the maiden voyage of the Cabot Strait Tunnel Train and have destroyed a critical section of the twenty billion dollar megaproject, and may have derailed the enterprise for years to come. It’s not clear how these individuals bypassed security, but some are pointing the finger at the Nova Scotian government, citing the departure of their officials from the train prior to its departure.  We’ll have responses from government and more on those killed in the attack at 6pm, 630 on the island.