The ravaged heart, the bypass

Among the many ironies at Lac Megantic, the catastrophic train derailment and consequent explosion occurred just metres from the towering St. Agnes Church. From the church steps we looked out at the broad space, empty except for earth moving equipment, that used to be the heart of town. Butterflies and notice boards penned with messages of consolation decorate the wire mesh fences that keep people out. Inside the church are poster boards crowded with heart shaped notes in  bright colours: we will miss you. we are with you; and one poster boasting of a Pee Wee hockey championship. Goodbye Coach, reads the writing, we are going to miss you. Alongside the disaster site, a crematorium and a funeral home stand too glaringly now, as if constructed for the occasion.
     And there is a navette, or shuttle service, to ferry people who may not have cars, from one side of town to the other, a way of bypassing the centre now that it is impossible to cross on foot, as people have been crossing, perhaps for 12,000 years, when Amerindians lived along the lake.
Much later, in the mid- 1800's Scots settlers arrived and with the laying of track for the rail line, the town was officially born. Trains involved in the birth of the village, the life of the particleboard, furniture and door factories that provide employment, but also the death of 47 people, including children just past toddler stage, a very old woman, and that pee wee hockey coach.