Here are five photos that I'd like to share with you. They illustrate my railfan journey. It starts on a cold February 1976 day, my Dad has photographed me recording observations of an eastbound CN freight after we've walked up to the double-track mainline of CN's Kingston Sub at Mi 182. Mittens in the snow, my cold hands hold my ubiquitous notepad. (above) Speeding PC, BN and SP-lettered cars now absent from the trackside scene. My Dad left us this year, but he started me on my railfan journey, and I started writing down numbers right here - in February, 1976!
Five months later, on a warm summer evening, the night before the US Bicentennial, my Dad has photographed another eastbound train with me trackside - this time at Portage la Prairie, MB. CP 5785-5630-3007-3006-8812 approach CP's Portage station, at which the wooden platform that hosted the Canadian is still in place. The shadow of Manitoba Pool Elevators Portage 'B' elevator looms in the foreground. High multimarks, low sun and high spirits.
Just over two years later, I'm at the same spot. I've just been given a camera by my uncle (at left) since the one I brought with me on this trip jammed. We've come down to the tracks at lunchtime, where we caught this CP eastbound behind 5695-5540, also with high multimarks and narrow nose stripes. A neighbourhood kid has showed up and is waving to the engineer. My hands are shaky but at the age of 14, I'm now taking my own photos. I'll take lots more photos at Portage la Prairie over the next few years!
I'm heading out West on May 26, 1984, passing the same sports field where my Dad took that top picture. Beneath the train, fresh untamped ballast cradles a super-elevated curve. Winter is behind us - it's now a pleasant spring evening, and I'm standing in the rear vestibule of my sleeper, Chateau Varennes, when VIA's Canadian still operated on CN's Kingston Sub between Montreal and Toronto. The anticipation of the trip, and more trainwatching in Portage is ahead of me, as the Kingston Sub recedes behind me. Going forward while looking back - now there's a metaphor for life!
Six years later, still on a day in May, I've met, proposed to, and married the wonderful woman who has given us our first child. It's May 25, 1990, and my seven-month old son is now trackside in his stroller with me, as I photograph him on his first trainwatching trip. Just before 1:30 in the afternoon, VIA's Montreal-Toronto train No 63 is making its station stop at Kingston - eight blue & yellow cars behind 6430. Fourteen years after the top photo, history has repeated itself - father trackside with his son. Interestingly, on the day of sharing my challenge, today I was trackside again to see VIA No 63 - two locomotives and seven cars.
There you have it, My Railfan Five. Now, I would like to challenge and will be contacting:
- Jason Shron of Rapido Trains
- Chris Mears of Prince Street Terminal and
- John Longhurst of the CP Rail Manitoba &Minnesota Division
- Steve Boyko of Confessions of a Train Geek
to take up the Railfan Five Challenge and post their five fave photos. I'm doubling the suggested two nominees to get the Railfan Five Challenge ball a-rollin'. Thanks to all who've expressed interest in this challenge and will also be taking part!
Also, to get rail preservation dollars flowing, I'll be making a donation to Exporail at St-Constant, QC. We often visited when it was known as the CRHA Canadian Railway Museum at Delson, and it's great to see the museum still making strides to preserve Canada's railway archives.