Saturday, June 17, 2017

CPR 1950 Kenora to Broadview

My father's September 1950 'Third Vacation' while working for the CPR (at this point in the office of the Auditor of Passenger Receipts) took him across Canada via the CPR, and down the west coast to Portland, Oregon via the Great Northern. 

My last post 1984 On the Canadian, Dawn to Dusk looked at our trip segment from Kenora to the Broadview Sub. 

This post looks at my father's 1950 trip over the same line, except that it takes a 'pure' CPR route through Winnipeg and out to Portage la Prairie.

LC Gagnon with the 5928 at Banff, 1950.

In later years, my father expanded on some of his original photo book notes. Here is his added detail - for those curious about his trip and for family members looking in. The brown discolouration comes from his original public timetable and I have included a couple of pages from it at the end of this post.

The two shielded lights on the station's shed dormer are interesting.
The camera lens tends to 'fisheye' and darken the photo corners.

The day starts in semi-darkness with overcast skies.
But then ... the weather changes ...


Above: Marquette, Manitoba.

Above: Coming into Portage la Prairie.
The CNR, with its water tank and coaling tower is across the field.
A locomotive is probably reversing in the yard.

The sheaves of grain are stooked for drying in the foreground.
This may take a while as the it seems to be raining here as well.

Here is the west end of Portage la Prairie near West Tower.
The train has just stopped at the CPR Portage station.
Accelerating, and with a signal to cross the diamond, black smoke is generated.

Beyond, are the former ways of the
Canadian Northern, Grand Trunk Pacific and a Great Northern branch.
Notice the extensive annex to the right of the grain elevator.

Approaching Sidney.

Sidney, Manitoba.
And another eastbound freight.

Carberry, Manitoba.
The train order signal is set at stop for the next westbound.

Brandon, Manitoba.
I think this is St Mary's on Assiniboine Avenue.

Some lubrication for the rods.
Some water for the tender.

On the engineer's side, a conference.
The left side lubrication operations are now close to the piston.

At the left, you can see the box camera lens-edge losses.
The CP Express trucks are lined up for loading.
Two tractor tires on wheels sit on a wagon.

I suspect those are silver propane cylinders lying on the wagon ... a worker can be seen using the time-honoured process of wheeling the cylinder along on its base, while using the protective valve cap as a handle.

The day ends at Broadview, Saskatchewan.
These grain elevator leads and the station (behind the camera) are on the south side.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

1984 On the Canadian, Dawn to Dusk (almost)

When one listens to a scanner all night via an earplug, there is little sleep. 

In the black wilderness white lights flash as they pass, and Spooky Mr Rogers jars you awake to announce 'his' location, your axle count and his verdict. Human voices on each end of The Canadian repeat only the last data to each other. Unlike Mr Rogers: when called on, they know how to correctly pronounce the name of the subdivision.

Later, in slowing undulating tones, the train sings itself to a stop. All is dark and still. Sleepless passengers finally doze off. 

Like dawn, light glows gently outside the window, then suddenly becomes blindingly bright ...

Twelve thousand horses scream you out of your nap - in four distinct bursts of sound. 
Protesting steel rattles, hammers or shrieks by your window - sliding down in pitch as it goes. 

You hear sputtering like a garden tiller as more blinding white light flashes by, then slowly dims. 

Your crew announces to the freight that all is well with their train and they acknowledge. 

Finally, all is blackness and silence.

Moments later, the headend reports 'Medium Clear for No 1'. 
The tailend trainman repeats the words. 

A gentle tug, and your train is underway again.

Starting at the dawn of a new day on the way across Canada, the Park car was the destination of choice. My spouse was content to sleep some more. The complication of a scanner was unnecessary in the last car ... the railway radio exchanges were usually provided at no charge for all passengers in this area via the trainman's portable.

Up in the leading end of the dome, the young tailend trainman and the conductor were in conversation. Spotting a CP Rail unit leading, I made an effort to identify it with the zoom lens - the crew members were now silent and watching me. There were probably no other passengers around. I remarked on the lead unit and the conductor told me it was a freight engine of such-and-such horsepower. I asked and he gave me its road number. 

The current Trackside Guide came out of my camera bag, and the conductor seemed to lunge at me. What type of reference, would a tourist in his late-twenties have, which would provide detail about the Company's capital equipment? If you think about it that way, 'we' enthusiasts are an odd lot. 

Things ended happily though. He instructed the trainman to set me up in the vestibule of the Park car. 

Later, the trainman, with initials R.S., commented about wanting to double-out a few times so he could afford a new mainsail. He explained that Kenora has the finest freshwater sailing in Canada. Coming from Kingston, I chose not to bite the hand that opened the Dutch door for me.

On the subject of trackside detectors, I don't actually remember if there were many 'talking' detectors back in 1984. Certainly, we had the visual readout three digit detectors the following morning in southern Alberta.

These photos of  'a day on the train' will follow with much less commentary.

I left the upper door latch smudge in this posted photo in case it brings back memories for some readers.

One of the freights from the overnight procession.
Undamaged dome corner windows were great when you had them.



Kenora's station buildings.

The 6501 was built in 1951 and it was gone by 1986 (we are a strange bunch).
This poor photo is displayed because I like the illuminated number plate design.

[After posting. From Eric:
Brian Schuff indicates that the 6501 was at the end of the road
and for scrapping at Weston Shops in September 1984.]

The former (double main track) flyover at Mile 90.8 Keewatin Sub - west of Molson, Manitoba.

Alternate lat/long. locator:
50.019183, -96.372914

[After posting. From Eric:
Brian Schuff indicates the flyover was removed in late September 1984
and the new alignment was in place in October 1984.]

Approaching Winnipeg.

I think that Restricting signal is for us.

... a number of things will change at Winnpeg.

Leaving Winnipeg - at the Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal.
The 1253: built in 1956, gone by 1986.

Running on the CNR west of Winnipeg.
The foreshortened gondola is full of Pandrol clips.

We have moved onto the CPR Carberry Subdivision after using the former CNR station at Portage la Prairie.

My aunt and uncle at Portage were experienced train-tracing veterans.
They have come to the station to see us roll by.
Here, my Uncle Wilf and I photograph each other.
He is at 18th St NW and McKay Ave

MacGregor, Manitoba.
There is a junction with the Varcoe Subdivision here.

[After posting. From Eric:
Brian Schuff indicates that the water tank was demolished by 1985-86.
At that point, only the tanks at Glenboro, Binscarth and Whitemouth were left.]

Getting out of MacGregor.

I'm not entirely sure about No 2's rear coupler.
Nonetheless, he's taking a Clear signal.
The dome contains few passengers.

Because my old timetable is already open to the right page ...
in 1967, there was double track from Sidney to Austin.

This probably explains the two full-height, main track style signal masts.

There are interesting artifacts to be seen at Brandon.

It seems likely we are entering an area of stubble burning.

The pigments in some of these prints become strange after three decades or so.
However, it seems we are abruptly entering a new weather system
... somewhere on the Broadview Sub.

Stubble burning and other pollution/refraction effects may be present.
The Clear signal is there as the last photo of the day is taken.
We'll be running fast tonight.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Montreal Terminals - A Descriptive Sketch, Part 2

Point St Charles and other CNR Montreal features are described here.

My brother gave me this wonderful little 4 inch by 6 inch booklet. In the railway's own words, it documents the state of many of the CNR's Montreal facilities in the late 1950s. 

For people not familiar with the area and its features, and to provide some contemporary atmosphere, I have added a few images from the era described.

from: Canadian National Magazine; November 1959.

from: Canadian National Magazine; November 1953.
Perhaps some readers will recognize some familiar faces here. As a minor brush with greatness, several of my basement-scented Canadian National magazines bear a mailing label for Omer Lavallee. Brushed a second time ... one of these professionals, while visiting my parents in Kingston, dropped by and operated No 1 on the Nipigon Sub of my former HO layout.

So far removed from the Montreal railway environment of the 1960s - I obviously take great pleasure in the few links I can make with it.

*  *  *

from: Canadian National Magazine; October 1952.
Above: A scene from a bygone era.

A CRHA trip to Hemmingford, Quebec on Saturday, June 6, 1964 provided a number of unique sights and experiences. My father took my 2yr 9mo-old sister and me on this wayfreight excursion. In keeping with mixed train tradition, our heavyweight coach was marshaled just ahead of the caboose. An open-air observation car (a gondola), with its end lowered, was coupled ahead of the coach - mind the gap!

To board the train, we took the bus from Lachine to the south side of Turcot yard in the morning. I don't recall the return there in darkness, but my father's notes indicate it was at 2300hr. One of my father's teaching colleagues was kind enough to drive us home. This long-since-hailed-hero, Stan Jones, also dashed over to a depanneur at a post-sunset stop (sunset had been at Hemmingford) to buy rations for his party and milk for ours.

Providing a false sense of  'security' ... a similar, shorter excursion had previously returned us in time for dinner. However this trip provided a good insight into the long, unpredictable hours of work for a crew on this type of operation ... bring an oversized lunch pail and be ready for anything. 

The photos above and below were taken as we left in the morning. We are approaching the Victoria Bridge via the west side of Point St Charles. 

Above: The Jacques Cartier Bridge can be seen over the 3119. The Victoria Bridge can be seen on the right horizon.

The photo above was taken on July 18, 1961 - probably to check the location for the event described below. Assorted wooden cars, a water tank and lumber storage can be seen, along with the main span of Champlain Bridge under construction.

*  *  *

Above and below: On July 22, 1961, my grandfather, father and I were at Point St Charles to see 6153 pull an excursion train to Victoriaville, Quebec. After photographing 6153 reversing to its train at Central Station, we set up near the train washer at Point St Charles. 

Generally, CNR steam locomotives in Montreal were held and scrapped at Turcot, so these two were a curiosity to us. According to Clegg and Corley, the 8320 was scrapped in December 1961 ... the 8447 was held/'preserved' for a time at London, but it seems it was also scrapped.

While waiting for 6153, our presence was requested in the tower of the washer. My grandfather was proficient in French and my father subsequently told me about the safety briefing we received, particularly the dangers of getting a foot caught in a power switch. The washer operator let us know when the train had departed Central Station so we could get into position. My father got his photos and we left the CNR and the washer operator in peace.

from: Canadian National Magazine; September 1953.

from: Canadian National Magazine; April 1957.

The images above and below illustrated the Lab's testing of supplies for the pending opening of the new Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

The accompanying article, of course, noted that these items were more delicate than most of those usually tested by the CNR's lab.

from: Canadian National Magazine; April 1957.

While the buildings of some of the older facilities described above may still exist (this was checked by using Google maps etc), I wasn't able to find any photos of them in use by the CNR circa the 1950s. 

So, to wind up this descriptive sketch of CNR's Montreal Terminals, here is an article about the new CNR headquarters from the CNR's renamed corporate magazine: Keeping Track, May 1961. 

The old building (still in existence) shown on the second page was the former Grand Trunk Railway headquarters - which had been used for this purpose by the CNR since its inception about 40 years earlier.

Keeping Track; May, 1961; Collection of LC Gagnon.

Keeping Track; May 1961. Collection of LC Gagnon.