Valley Lives - Donat (Dan) Labrosse

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the February 23, 2005 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Wakefield's unofficial greeter waves final farewell

by Mike Caesar

From spring to fall he stood there every day - sometimes twice per day - greeting the steam train's arrival in Wakefield, but Donat Labrosse will tip his hat no more.

Valley Lives
Donat (Dan) Labrosse.

Long a fixture of the Riverside Dr. sidewalk, the 86-year-old passed away overnight last week.

Labrosse grew up in the Ontario railway town of Alfred, where he kindled his lifelong enthusiasm for the rails. Starting out with Canadian Pacific at age 18, a 41-year career followed, including many years in which he oversaw the condition of the rails between Wakefield and Ottawa as roadmaster.

Once retired, he never kicked the train habit, overseeing the train's progress into Wakefield daily right up until the last train, last fall.

"I don't think he ever missed one day. He had the schedule of the train and he was always out there," said Huguette Chenier of Le Manoir de Wakefield, where Labrosse lived since 1999.

Besides his passion for the train, Labrosse was known as something of an unofficial greeter in Wakefield, always quick to say "hello" to visitors and offer a smile.

"He used to stop everybody," Chenier recalled. "He would bring people over and say, 'This is where I live'."

Labrosse became such a friendly and common sight along Riverside Dr. that operators of the steam train presented him with a conductor's hat in a small ceremony in the fall of 2003.

The hat in turn became a fixture in Wakefield, perched upon Labrosse's head.

Labrosse is survived by two daughters and a son.

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