CPR G5a 4-6-2 1201 (Angus shops, June 1944) was retired from CPR service in April 1960, entering excursion service 16 years later in June 1976. Bearing in mind her size, and her central Canada location, 1201 was remarkably well-travelled in excursion service, even conveying royalty! Leaving Ottawa on October 7, 1985 behind CP's newest GP38-2 3040, coupled to combination car 3051, Micmac and Sandpoint, 1201 made its way to Revelstoke BC. Passing CP's Portage la Prairie station, my uncle photographed the nicely-steaming movement (above) on its way to celebrations for Canadian Pacific's Centennial. Wintering in BC, 1201 made an appearance at Steamexpo, part of Vancouver's Expo86. I photographed her as she reversed through CP's Burrard Inlet yard trackage, returning to the Steamexpo exhibition grounds:
In the fall of 1990, the plucky G5 made its final round of excursions closer to home. The excursion consist hauled by 1201 arrives in Smiths Falls from CN's Smiths Falls Sub (photographer unknown), on its way to Brockville to mark the 130th anniversary of Brockville's railway tunnel. Bruce Chapman must be just to the right of CP Rail 1856 in the next photo, because he shared the following photo showing 1856 with 1201 just to the west. In the City of the Thousand Islands, she would meet three generations of her extended family.
Foamers...jeesh. Though I would not make a habit of sitting on a rail, perhaps this guy just got tired of standing around. At least it's a spur. CP's freight house is still just visible at right of that photo. Sorry about my hi-cube CNR-emblazoned engineer's hat. Bytown's Earl Roberts reports that the 554 passengers from Ottawa had to disembark to make room for the sidetrip passengers. Fortunately, there was no rain to dampen spirits or waiting passengers! Tunnel commemmoration ceremonies, waterfront tours and boat cruises were set up for entertainment during the four-hour layover.
At 1348, VIA No 43, the Lakeshore from Ottawa arrived: 6425-3466-3343-3312-3369. Passing from CP rails under the William Street overpass, 6425 pulled alongside 1201. With some judicious framing, I was able to crop most of the CN coach out of the picture, making it look like 1201 was still in active service, belying the 46 years since 1201 was built.
The sidetrip was now able to depart Brockville, and it did so in fine style, spewing smoke which enveloped those standing on the overpass above. I noted that her drivers slipped twice as she endeavoured to lift the seven-car consist of CN 4960, CN 4977, ACR articulated car 458-459, and CP-style cars 3051, Midway, Micmac and Sandpoint onto CP's Brockville Sub, past some CN boxcars on the interchange tracks.
Having run a couple of errands for different kinds of 'fuel' at Petro-Canada and McDonald's, we headed back trackside, hoping to catch the returning sidetrip at the Parkedale Avenue crossing. We waited. And waited. Finally, a passing carload of enthusiasts updated us. The train had slipped past us and was now at the station, readying for its return to Ottawa. We were able to grab a few more trackside-with-family shots at 1600 back at the station:
Trackside Treasure reader Jeremy Corke has been in touch recently. We both lost our fathers in January of this year, and believe it or not, all four of us were at Brockville - Jeremy and his Dad were passengers on the trip out of Ottawa. Jeremy kindly sent a photo of a steam-shrouded 1201 before one of its fantrips that season:
Gobsmacked gawkers, onlookers, rivet-counters and daisy-pickers alike lined the cinders at the end of the platform. It was easy to see why the iron horse held so much fascination, drama and interest for all three of the generations of our family present that day, one of whom actually went back to the age of steam!
After 1201's sidetrip departure, a non-stop VIA No 65, the Meridian from Montreal, hustled through Brockville at 1415: 6417-3471-3335-3333-3371-3328. Another VIA train, No 62 the LaSalle from Toronto was due at Brockville at 1431. Having hurriedly returned to the Parkedale Avenue CP crossing just above the 401 overpass, VIA No 42, we photographed the Lakeshore to Ottawa heading north past us at 1510: 6427-3455-3341-3348-3351.
With VIA gone, the main attraction's arrival on stage was now at hand. At 1630, we saw smoke rising above the 401 in the distance! Tender-first, 1201 had her train in hand in the failing afternoon light.
CN steam-qualified engineer Tim Verge is craning his neck to watch the track ahead, with Bytown's Earl Roberts cueing whistleposts, visible only from the other side of the cab! Steam locomotives were from an era of roundhouses and wyes, both gone from Brockville via the diesel era. Smiths Falls' wye was used to advantage to reposition 1201 facing forward, and Earl delivered the latest issue of BRS's Branchline to the CP Smiths Falls operator (also a Branchline subscriber)!
I will be publishing a post on Steamexpo - to share photos of the steamers under steam at the exhibition site, plus the parade. Big US road power was eventually a no-show, as was CNR 6060. But a variety of venerable, variable-sized steam locos (and lokies) more than put on a show. This photo of some other Bytowners proudly piloting 1201 back to the site after the Grand Parade of Steam will have to suffice for now:
Unofficially retired in October 1990 following its last runpast at Dalkeith, Ontario on October 14, due to pending expensive springing and driver work, plus her boiler tube time had expired. Steaming to the West coast for Steamexpo and the East coast over the Canadian Atlantic Railway in 1989, 1201 has only seen the light of day one time since. This was during equipment shuffling at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, who are still 1201's owners.
W.C. Slim published this excellent book on 1201's regular trips between Ottawa and Wakefield, Quebec. The illustrated 1981 work is now available for your reading pleasure online!
Rapido Trains has just announced its latest locomotive (Note to self - insert here once it's announced or just leave this in because I'm pretty sure it's going to be an S-13). To model Spadina without an S-13 would be like modelling Horseshoe Curve without four tracks. See CN 8512 in the roundhouse. ***Update: Two days ago, Rapido telegraphed the upcoming release of their F40PH-2D. (I think I had my fingers on the wrong keys when I typed S-13 above. Should have read F-40. My bad.)