Ghost of fruitcake past – How festive memories of one GO Transit rider are seasoned with tale of lost dessert

We all have beloved family stories of humorous holiday happenings. Those yarns are passed around for years. Much like, say, a regifting of fruitcake – that most divisive of culinary presents. Here, long-time GO Transit rider, Valerie Todd, recalls losing a freshly bought fruitcake on a GO train – and the conversation with a bewildered Union Station lost and found attendant, that followed.

Fruitcake is one of those holiday dishes that you either love it – hate it – or love to hate it.

And perhaps that’s why the disappearance of one of these Christmas classics on a Lakeshore West GO train nearly two-decades ago is still an unsavory mystery that Valerie Todd loves to tell.

A slice of fruitcake – though not the one lost aboard a GO train years ago. (Photo by Lisa Fotios /Pexels.com)

For more than 30-years, Valerie rode the GO train from Appleby GO station in Burlington, to her job in downtown Toronto.

And on a December day, back in 2001, she departed Union Station with an unusual companion: the most beautifully decorated fruitcake you can ever imagine seeing. It was the kind of cake people stopped and stared at.

“It was about $25 or $30,” Valerie says, recalling that she had bought it from a friend who was helping with a Lion’s Club holiday fundraiser. “That was a lot of money for a cake back then.”

But when she got home, panic set in. She realized the iconic looking cake was still riding the rails.

“It will be fine… surely some lovely soul will turn in a lost fruitcake,” she remembers thinking.

Hoping for some good luck and armed with a little holiday cheer, Valerie marched into the GO Transit Lost and Found office at Union Station the next morning. Maybe she was being naive, but to her genuine surprise – it wasn’t there.

“The gentlemen working at the Lost and Found looked at me very politely and said, ‘Ma’am, you said you left your fruitcake on the GO train?” she fondly remembers him asking. “I’m pretty sure he thought I was nuts.”

Fruitcakes are after all, by just about every measure, rather unique to say the least – especially in a Lost and Found department. It’s likely the kind of item someone working there would have laughed at – and already would have known about.

“I’ll given him credit,” Valerie says. “He still looked all over the place. By the boxes of gloves and keys, he even searched all through the back room.”

After many fruitless moments, the employee returned to the counter where Valerie was waiting.

“Well ma’am,” he said with all seriousness “There’s no fruitcake back there.”

“I was astonished,” she now says

What might surprise you about Valerie Todd, and her reaction and disappointment to this news, is that she actually hates fruitcake. Loathes it really.

“Let’s be frank, it’s revolting,” she says, chuckling. “There’s nothing worse than those boozy little cherries and those dried up lemons.”

Which makes one wonder, why was she so emotionally attached to this particular fruitcake?

“That’s a good question,” she snickers. “Fruitcake is one of things you regift to someone. It’s the thought that counts.”

To this day, nearly 20 years later, Valerie still wonders what happened to that beautiful creation of rum soaked dried fruit, citrus zest, and candied ginger.

“Quiet frankly, it could under a wheel of one of your trains preventing a runaway – Maybe it’s even raising a leg on someone’s desk…,” she ponders.

But the idea she seems to like best – maybe it could even still be in someone’s fridge.

“I have no idea – I just hope it’s living a happy life,” she says. “I can tell you one thing though, I’ve never bought a fruitcake ever again.”

Story by Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx spokesperson and senior advisor, Media Relations and Issues.