Saturday, September 29, 2012

Black & White VIA Photography

While working on my second VIA Rail book, I was fortunate to have access to the photo collection of Brian Schuff.  Brian and I have quite a few things in common: we both railfanned in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.  We are both VIAphiles, with an interest in VIA's early years, and we're both of a similar vintage, though I am slightly older but likely no wiser.    Brian is in Winnipeg, I'm in Kingston, and though he's not 'online' yet, hopefully Santa will help him with that.  Once Brian knew I was working on a VIA Rail project, he graciously sent photos, in abundance.  While the book is in its final production stages, I'd like to share some photos from Brian's collection, most of which he took himself.  These are photos you may not have seen before, and won't see in my book, so I hope you find viewing them as enjoyable as I did.  One more thing...these are all black & white, and many show VIA blue & yellow. 
VIA F40PH-2 6401 was one of the first of the new units VIA purchased for transcontinental service to reach Winnipeg, shown here inside and out in February, 1987.  Notice the initial VIA pure paint scheme - thin blue stripe, small Canadian flag, and an absence of garish politically-inspired 'Canada' wordmarks and large, waving flags that were applied later.
In contrast, only four months sooner, Brian caught No 2 at Kenora, with some old-school VIA motive power: ditchlight-equipped and MU hatch-open ex-CN FP9 6530 in the lead, on October 4, 1986.  Usually at home in the Corridor, 6530 and other higher-numbered passenger units found their way west, as VIA's motive power squeeze reached its most precarious time, just before the delivery of the new units.  By 1995, 6530 was on its way to the Ohio Central Railroad.  Behind an E-series sleeper, one of CP's former Park cars brings up the rear:
CP sent its RDC fleet to VIA, and these were also rebuilt to match the ex-CN RDC's.  I really wanted to learn more about the fate of CP's passenger fleet, and I was able to amass lots of useful material on CP's RDC's, E-units, F-units and smooth-sided coaches and baggage cars that VIA inherited (but didn't always use), for my second VIA book.  VIA also rebuilt CN RDC's.  Brian photographed rebuilt ex-CN RDC3 6351 as RDC-2 6225 undergoing maintenance at Toronto's Spadina Shops.
This CN RDC did not fare as well.  CN RDC-4 6451 is shown at Winnipeg's Transcona yard on December 29, 1986.  After a collision in 1969, 6451 had been at CN's Fort Rouge terminal since 1972, and was in no condition to go to VIA.  Brian caught it in the company of ex-CN equipment and other ex-VIA equipment in 1986.  (Another RDC-4 that did go to VIA, 6453 was out of VIA service about the same time.)  Notice the shop freight trucks:
Grant Anderson photographed CN SD40-2 5724 assisting VIA's Canadian at Winnipeg in June, 1986.  CP could always be counted on to help VIA, and there are photos in Brian's collection showing a wide variety of CP motive power rescuing VIA: Centuries, road switchers (both RS' and Geeps), SD's, you name it!  I find these rescue movements fascinating, and I was able to uncover several pages' worth of them.  Of course CN had their share too.

This is my favourite shot from the entire collection, although you'll only see it here, not in my second VIA book.  On May 20, 1985 two ex-CP eastbound units meet a third ex-CP westbound unit in Winnipeg, heading for the wye at Portage Jct. on CN's freight line.  Having been on this platform, I can smell the diesel exhaust.  I can hear the characteristic GM idle.  I can feel the wooden platform under my feet, as well as the warmth of the setting prairie sun as it throws its long shadows.  Looking down the track, I see Winnipeg's Warehouse District skyline rising in the distance.  Hey, is that the throb of an approaching CN grain drag with three SD's I hear?

Running extra...

A round trip to Toronto this week on VIA Nos 651 and 48 found both trains well-patronized, likely the result of VIA's recent 50% sale.  Our morning arrival at Toronto Union included a plethora of GO trains and one of the last Northlander consists, facing east on the next track behind two ONR Geeps: 1809-1800-202-604-615-612-703.  The ONR train's last run was Friday.  I had an enjoyable trip in 1994 to Timmins, where I took in a work-related convention and a scintillating performance by what one participant called 'TheTimmins Ballet'.  Truly memorable, and the trip (not the dancing) will be the subject of an upcoming post.

Some dog in Saskatoon caused a house fire by turning on the stove when the owner was out.  Too bad the owner hadn't trained Rex to operate the fire extinguisher.  Meanwhile, Canadian pizza-makers are smuggling subsidized U.S. cheese over the border to increase their profit margin.  And some bad, cheesy cops are involved, to the tune of $200,000! I never really thought about it, but apparently 80% of the cost of a pizza is in the cheese.  Grate, just grate! 

Speaking of  stupid pet tricks and small-town news, David Letterman is finally getting the recognition he deserves, to go along with his multi-million-dollar annual salary.  It's about time.  The Kennedy Center Honors will include Dave on December 2, to be broadcast December 26.  I wonder who will be his 'sponsors'...Bill Murray? Newsmen Dan Rather and Brian Williams? Former staffers like Chris Eliot? Paul Shaffer - of course.  Bermuda!!  And don't forget Canada's Walk of Fame honorees, including the incomparable Randy Bachman, to be broadcast by Global TV October 14.  Set that P-VR now!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos! They bring back memories of getting on and off trains in Winnipeg Union Station back in the mid/late 80s!

Eric said...

Thanks for your comment, A. I agree, Brian's photos remind me a lot of my layover railfanning. He spent a l-o-t of time around those depot tracks, and has the photos to prove it. There really were some very interesting trains inhabiting those tracks!

I feel fortunate to have been able to see such photos and to be able to share them with others.


Anonymous said...

Dear Eric, well quite a surprise to my photos as a tribute to me on the blog. I am pleased that you find them so interesting as I shot and recorded on film a time and place local to me. I did photograph in VIA mecca, Spadina, shooting RDCs and FPA4s as wellas GO Mimico or Willowbrook in 1984 taking in the Fs and GP40s and F40Ph. As you well know, the local scene becomes stale, and we all strive to look farther a field. In 1982 to witness the Toronto tramp herself at Agincourt-CP 8921 and again in 1984 and 86 before she got the RS18 chop nose treatment, an encounter that I will have on film. I would like to give credit where it is due, Mr David Finney of Via said to me in Oct 29-30 of 1978, take all the photos you can as I dont think this outfit has five years. How wrong he was, as a former CP man, and being a lean and mean opperation as the CN was not, David could not understand the Government way things, waste. I was pleased th photo graph the early days of VIA as a method of documenting history, maybe a short lived one at that. Again I am pleased to share my stuff with you for the book, and with Jason Shron of RAPIDO in help to create the best for his company and us fans and HO scalers. I-spy to inform, Sept 29 at DIAMOND Via no 1---6435-6420 with 22 cars with Tremblant Pk at the markers, or drumhead. Please call, hope that you, Eric, heard from the printer. Update wanted.

Anonymous said...

Well I have returned to the scene. Pt 2. Call me via landline on mon or tues for an update. Still think the blog looks so cool with the feature of the b and w photos. Can not wait to enter the world of cyber-space land to circulate the achieves on the www. in Winnipeg,

Eric said...

Hi Brian,

Great to hear from you at the end of this post which shares part of your photo collection with the wwworld.

I did hear from the printer today, and photos from your collection look good on paper as well as they do in cyberspace.

I am tempted to start a blog poll to see how many would vote to get you online. Perhaps I could get people to donate to one of those internet funds-startup sites...'Buy Brian a Mac' or something, and you could get a computer setup for free.

Believe me, when it happens and you're posting photos online, you will be very, very busy...

Thanks for your comments,

Anonymous said...

Dear VIA feind Eric, the ON farewell is a story of our day and age, in a world of change things are at fast pace to loose what we had today, gone tommorow. Saw the ON Tee set at Union in Aug 1984. I-Spy reports from Diamond with No 1...6456-6429 with 20 cars with Banff pk at the markers. Also on Rosser on the CP Carbeery Sub-Oct o6 at 1600 hrs,CP 6005 east had the following loco consist..6005,9710,9107,9120,9131,9101,9117,9623. Eight units but 2 units were active, 6005 and 9623. Please pass this on to Bruce Chapman as of interest. Thats its from WINTER-PEG on Oct 06.

Anonymous said...

Dear Eric, Im back...three days of rain and gloom in the USA. Train show in ST Pauil and Fargo were quite good, but the photo ops poor to why-did-I bring-the-camera. Hope to have the book in my hands asap, hope the finished product is up to your level of high hopes. I_spy reopt from Diamond MB for Oct 22 is the following---Via 6410-6405 with 13 cars with YOHO Pk. Am working with a fellow on a SOO book, as awell as another fellow in Saskatoon looking for photos of EMS cars and trucks of the past. Well thats the news from WPG>

Mark Walton said...

The CP winterization hatches contained shutters that closed over the #1 fan when the engine was cold, redirecting the exhaust heat into the engine room to warm it. When the engine warmed up enough, a thermostat opened the shutters, allowing the fan to exhaust normally.

Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, Mark!