2005 wound up being a particularily special year in regards to ONR's annual Santa Claus Express. These special trains run from pretty much all of Ontario Northland's major centres throughout the month of November, carrying children a few miles up the track, where Santa Claus boards for the return trip. The ticket price for these trips is usually an unperishable food item, which is donated to local Food banks. The Lions Club, in conjunction with local charities, handles the entertainment portion of the trips and arranges for the "Santa Pick Up".
In September 2005, jaws dropped when Ontario Northland sadly announced that The Annual Santa Claus Express trips would be cancelled due to financial constraints, indirectly caused by a lengthy labor dispute at one of ONR's major tonnage supplying customers.
Alarm bells rang out throughout the network. The tradition was dying. Teamsters and UTU Members stepped up to the plate, willing to volunteer their time if Ontario Northland would agree to shoulder the exprenses of operating the service. Ontario Northland agreed, and the children, once again, got to ride the train to pick up Santa.
Seen here is Cochrane's edition of the Santa Claus Express, ready to pull out, without an empty seat in the house, for the 15 mile trip to Driftwood.