Sleeping cars had their own smoking rooms, but coaches did not. In 1940, 7379 was converted into a baggage-smoker or Combination Car. Cars such as this one were added to trains for extra baggage storage and to provide an enlarged smoking room for the coach passengers.
The combine seats 32 passengers. At night, boards and mattresses could be placed across the seats as sleeping accommodation for the dining car employees.
The other half of the car is a typical baggage car used by most Canadian railways. It contains a stove, and a desk used by the mail-express clerk or baggageman to hold mail, paperwork and baggage tags. Often there would be a small metal box with a lock, or a safe; this held express mail or passengers’ valuables or possessions. The car was staffed by a baggageman who loaded and unloaded baggage, mail and other goods at the appropriate stations.
This car was probably taken off passenger services on the mainline in the 1940’s, and sent to branchlines of the Canadian National System to be used on mixed passenger – freight train services, commonly known as milk runs or locals.
At very small country stations, the baggageman or mail-expressman would put the town’s mail in a canvas mail sack, set it by the open baggage door and toss it off onto the station platform. The station agent would load the outgoing mail onto the car.
At the larger country stations, the train would roll in with the baggage door open and empty milk and cream cans stacked up in the doorway. These were being returned to local farmers. The baggageman would exchange them for full cans which farmers brought to the station.
Mail and parcels would also be exchanged. The train was a vital link to the rest of the world, and brought all kinds of merchandise and supplies – baby chicks, mail-order parcels from Eaton’s and Simpson’s, parts and even small machinery. But it wasn’t all business for train employees. Depending on their schedule the crew of the local train might stay for coffee, and now and then were invited to share a meal with the residents along the line they served.