Ever photographed a photographer? Not easy. Known for photographing and documenting every major happening, my Dad also documented every minor but still important railfanning occasion. I did a retrospective search of my years of photographs to find some I really liked; photographs of the photographer, to document the documenter.
Top photo: March, 1980 at a farm crossing near Benjamin's cut, west of Mi 184 Kingston Sub. "Hey Dad, look at this!" CLICK! On July 14, 1982, crouching so as not to interrupt the smooth lines of VIA FPA-4 6793 leading a 7-car westbound with 6612 (above). Posing with blue & yellow coaches while seeing off my sister on one of her perennial peregrinations, departing Kingston's VIA station:
My Dad is reviewing some photos I've just had developed of CN's Rail Change Out unit. With scribblers, used for photo albums nearby, the photos will soon be finding a home for posterity. We had driven down to Kings, site of CN interlocking sidings east of Kingston on one of many excursions trackside, tramped through a field and patiently photographed the whole assemblage.
Also in the spring of 1985, we arrive aboard VIA Rail on a cold Saturday morning to attend the Toronto train show. Before finding our way onto the TTC, we pause on Front Street. My Dad greatly admires the Royal York Hotel, or any railway hotel for that matter, so I suggest I take a photo to capture both their profiles.
After the show, we return to the Royal York for a bite to eat in the cafe before boarding our train back to Kingston. We unabashedly enjoyed the arrival of a couple of limos full of willowy Swissair stewardesses. Coming in from the cold, I snap a quick non-flash photo overlooking the main floor of the lobby, grandly captioning this photo "A Man and His Hotel"!
In the summer of 1986, we are on another train day-trip together, returning to Kingston from Ottawa. Taken from across the aisle, Dad is enjoying a beverage from his tray table aboard an LRC coach. We have visited Hobby House, and a modelling magazine likely concerning one of Dad's favourite modelling subjects - British Flower-class corvettes or military aircraft is in the seat pocket.
February, 1988 finds my brother joining us for a joyous celebration: the driving of the last spike on my HO scale Manitoba Western Railway. Like Dad, I could not live anywhere without even a modest model railway, in this case the apartment my new wife and I shared. It matters little that we'll move to our current house in six months! Applause echoes in the tiny spare bedroom as diginitaries from Manitoba Western Railway, the Happy Valley Railway Management Corporation and Delaware & Hudson mark the auspicious occasion.
My Dad is visiting an area of Quebec he dearly loves, the Argenteuil. Since his mother was born in Lachute, still the site of the historic working family farm, he has made many visits here over many years. Fall of 1988 is another one, and my brother and two cousins stand beside CN tracks at the St Andrew's East station site.
On September 16, 1990 Dad holds his first grandchild, our son who is a mere 11 months old. Is toddler too young, or grandfather too old to be so close to a thumping, hissing steam engine? Noooo, although their faces bespeak a different opinion. An Ottawa-Brockville return fantrip behind CPR 1201 is pausing on CN rails at Brockville, and will soon run around its train to begin its return trip on CP rails to Ottawa.
Waiting for 1201 to head north past us (during the return trip to Ottawa, the steam-qualified CN engineer will develop a sore neck from 1201 pulling the train tender-first) I am taking a photo of my Dad using his 126-format camera. Ready to capture a real CPR whistle and bell on tape, note the CPR switchstand and CN insulated car in the background. Notice how many photos in this post show him camera-in-hand. Except this one - cassette tape recorder in hand. He has humbly and characteristically captioned the photo with the date and the simple words: "Goldenrod, purple asters, Parkedale crossing, Brockville"
That kid is really too big to be picked up and held! But in the interest of keeping him safe from humming VIA 6424, and to make sure he is in the picture, that is what is happening. It's June 16, 1992 we are enjoying an evening of watching trains at Kingston. A 5-car LRC consist is preparing to depart westbound at 1958. As you can see, members of our family spend a lot of time trackside.
Don't worry, several checks of the tracks for approaching trains have undoubtedly been made before this picture was taken at the Lachute CP station, on April 25, 1992. At this time, there is likely only one train each way per day, nocturnal at that. With his grandson perched on the crossing timbers, the familiar smell of creosote in the air, family cars in the distant parking lot and the sun beaming on our faces, he stoops to conquer.
When the Canadian Warplane Heritage Mynarski Memorial Lancaster landed at Kingston airport on August 1, 1992, it was a special occasion for us. My son with his 'chocolate chip' desert-camo hat on, has his grandfather alongside, once an air cadet serving during World War Two at RCAF No 1 Wireless School, Montreal, with his Harvard hat on. The Lanc will soon taxi out and perform a soaring, breath-taking flypast for the assembled crowd before heading westward to Hamilton.
Transit topics: A visit to the Halton County Radial Railway, Rockwood/Milton, ON resulted in a banquet at a nearby Harvey's, with my Dad seemingly ordering one of everything from the menu sign for us. Able to recall, even a few years ago, MTC streetcar routes from photos of the cars used on a particular route. My brother takes this photo with me, my son and my Dad, who has captioned it "TTC 327 (1933) replica of 1893 open car".
For Dad's 68th birthday, my wife baked and iced a birthday cake in the shape of a CPR beaver crest. He's nattily dressed for the occasion. As a retired teacher, he still wears a tie when going out, with blue (and maybe red for occasions that might warrant) pens in his shirt pocket. Having titled this post as 'trackside', I'm not going to get off track and start telling you my Dad's life story. That's another post for another day. Suffice it to say he was recently described as a 'renaissance' man - by definition, a man whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Well-read and well-spoken.
Grandfather and grandson a few years on, pausing with CP 5686-5531-CPRS 5581 waiting on a crew change westbound at Smiths Falls on a bright, sunny spring morning on May 25, 1996.
At Lachute Road farm on a very humid weekend, Dad and I provide a little music, with my daughter close by on the porch on Aug. 1, 1999. It looks like we're both trying to get a tune started...once it got going, his eyes would lock as the notes tumbled from his memory onto the strings, double-bowing and all. Trained classically, Red Wing, Marching through Georgia or the Irish Washerwoman would have warmed a parlour like a roaring fire.
Nearly two years later on February 24, 2001, we're enjoying a winter day at Kingston station, as a westbound LRC recedes to the horizon with 6919 trailing. Whether listening to music or strolling the platform, just being together with my kids was all we needed. Those garden trees at right were the site of many games of hide-and-go-seek between trains in warmer weather! If you'd care to comment on this post, please share some thoughts with me about family members; those who had an influence or made a difference in your rail enthusiast history.
Photographed by my brother but captioned by Dad, simply "Trainwatchers relaxing!" we are enjoying an afternoon between CN and CP mainlines on Aug. 30, 2001 at Morningstar Road, west of Trenton. The Plymouth Voyager blanket-bedecked liftgate shades and shelters the between-train kibbitzing with refreshment and trains galore. Notice how many photos in this post show my Dad smiling broadly!
Time, like an ever-flowing stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten as a dream
dies at the break of day.
The Canadian Pacific built this stone culvert on the former Kingston & Pembroke line just north of Kingston near Sydenham Road in 1927 - the same year in which my Dad was born. The culvert still serves its purpose, though the tracks are no longer there.
Three weeks ago, after nearly four years as a resident of Providence Manor in Kingston,
and a short illness, my dear Dad died on January 3, 2014.
and a short illness, my dear Dad died on January 3, 2014.
Not forgotten. Not ever.