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Originally published by The Hastings Star-Gazette on Friday, December 5, 2008. All rights reserved.

Holiday train to stop Dec. 12

By Jane Lightbourn, The Hastings Star-Gazette

When the Pacific Canadian Holiday Train stops in Hastings next week, the live entertainment will bring a message – heightening awareness for emergency food shelves across the country, including Hastings Family Service.

The brightly decorated holiday train will stop at the depot in Hastings from about 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12. The Hastings stop is regularly one of the Holiday Train's scheduled stops during its annual trip.

The entertainers on the Holiday Train this year are Juno award-winning singer songwriter Melanie Doane and blues rocker Shaun Verreault of Wide Mouth Mason fame. Their live 30-minute performance at the event is free; and in return, nonperishable food items or cash from the audience will support the local food shelf.

Doane wrote “Happy Homemaker” for her break-through album, “Adam's Rib,” in 1998, and did not realize how the song would eventually take on a whole new meaning in her life a few years later. With the birth of her first child in 2001, and the second in 2003, the lyrics describing one woman's struggle to balance a career and home life became Doane's reality. It led to her new work, “A Thousand Nights.”

The new album features Doane on the piano, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass and vocals, and the special guests include Canadian musicians such as Jim Cuddy, Ron Sexsmith, and Tex Dykstra.

Doane has toured with Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Great Big Sea and the Philosopher Kings. She joined the Holiday Train on its cross-country Canada journey in 2007.

Verreault is best known as the virtuoso singer/guitarist/ songwriter for blues rockers and Canadian live favorites Wide Mouth Mason (currently at work on the seventh album together). This is his third year on the Holiday Train.

When he was aboard the Holiday Train in 2006, Verreault recognized what a rare musical opportunity it would be to record an album on the journey. “Two Steel Strings” is the second solo-acoustic release from Verreault and was recorded on the Holiday Train in 2007 while traveling from Montreal to Vancouver.

Last year, the Canadian Pacific Railroad presented a check for $1,000 to Hastings Family Service. In addition, 2,500 pounds of food and more than $2,500 in cash were donated to the food shelf at the event.

The Holiday Train journey began Nov. 28 in Scranton, Pa., and concludes in Carpio, N.D. Dec. 17. A second Holiday Train is traveling at the same time through Canada.

The CP Holiday Train achieves a milestone this year, celebrating 10 years of hope and community support. Since 1999, the Holiday Train has helped to raise more than $3.5 million and 1.8 million pounds of food.

The Holiday Train program began in 1999 with a small number of communities and a few lights on freight train. Today, it is one of Canadian Pacific's main ambassadors in working with communities in Canada and the United States and is the only fundraiser of its kind for food banks in North America.

The two Holiday Trains this year are crossing seven states and six Canadian provinces for a combined distance of about 6,500 miles. Each train is about 1,000 feet long with 14 decorated rail cars, plus a modified box car that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers.

Copyright © The Hastings Star-Gazette

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