For this anniversary, I would like to have sponsored a cross-Canada tour of some kind aboard VIA Rail, greeting readers along the way. Maybe charter Glenfraser and stock it with Glenfiddich! Reality set in and I sat down to ponder the tenth, er, 10th. What to do...the usual anniversary contest and tributes? Realizing that a blog fosters online community, and exists in a virtual state, it occurred to me that I should devote this commemmorative corner of cyberspace to 10 special folks. These 10 folks, whom I would not have had the pleasure of communicating with (and meeting) were it not for Trackside Treasure.
This non-inclusive list, in no particular order, brings to light some amazing connections that I've been able to make over the past 10 years of this blog. Each one lists our connection, and in yearbook style, as applicable, a nickname (NN), fun fact (FF), probable fate (PF) and/or favourite saying (FS) then awards for awesome knowledge (K), invaluable information-sharing (I), enlightening life-experience (E) or managing any of those while being a family man (F). All of these are traits I value, and try to possess, but sometimes fall short of. Photos (where available) or text have not been pre-approved, just to keep this post fresh and edgy.
JAKOB MUELLER - Initially, Jakob contacted me regarding some VIA consists I'd posted to Yahoogroups. This was a huge push in the direction of creating my four books on VIA Rail. We had a great talk while I was at my rented table for a Kingston Rail-O-Rama train show. Jakob contributed VIA rolling stock paint transition data to my first book: Trackside with VIA - The First 35 Years. NN: Uberviaphile, FF: Married CTSG editor Earl Roberts' neighbour's daughter. Awards: K, I.
CHRIS deVRIES - Chris has been a constant commenter to Trackside Treasure (under a loco-themed pseudonym) beginning in November, 2012. Chris has Winnipeg and Brockville connections. Chris and I met up to railfan Brockville on July 14, 2016. Chris' expertise includes signal indications, locomotive markings and types, placards, railcams and CN operations around Canada. NN: CdeV, FF: Prolific running shoe collector, Awards: E, I.
CHUCK BOHI: Chuck (Charles) is the dean of Western Canadian stations, railroading and grain elevators. Chuck was in contact with me in January 2012 regarding an upcoming Trackside Treasure post on Wartime, SK. The post was not published until February, 2014. Chuck contributed to both volumes of Trains & Grains. My Dad regarded Chuck's books on CN and CP Western Depots among the ultimate books on Canadian railroading, and he would be proud to know of this connection. NN: Chuck, FF: Lives in WRJ VT, Awards: E, I.
MICHAEL HAMMOND: Michael's fine blog The Beachburg Sub debuted on April 30, 2013 and includes as its first comment one by this humble blogger. Michael has kindly credited Trackside Treasure as a formative influence on his blogging. Though Ottawa is not the rail hub it once was, Michael has succeeded in creating a true online community around what remains: CN No 589, the O-Train, Walkley Yard and Ottawa railway history. PF: Prime Minister, FF: Published fiction author, Awards: I, F.
DAVID GAGNON: Dave is not only my brother, he's a one-time CP trainman and life-long rail enthusiast. His groundbreaking blog Rolly Martin Country began on a Netscape browser in HTML, before transitioning through Tumblr to Blogger. Dave has branched out beyond railroading, preserving family history, Canadian history and technology interpretation online. This use of online platforms is what I believe to be the best way to document, preserve and share history. NN: Captain Megadave, Big Dave. FF: Built his North of Superior HO scale layout encompassing White River-Schreiber-Thunder Bay with pioneering handheld control, FS: "Smeeeeeeeee.", Awards, E, I.
HANLEY DESCENDANTS: When I published the first of a multi-part series on CN's Hanley Spur here in Kingston, little did I know I would make a connection to some of the descendants of the man whose name the spur shares. This shows the power of Google, the durability and spread of blogging, and the uniqueness and unexpectedness of connections that can be made. Few would now know of the existence of the Hanley spur, which was once a key connection to Kingston's Canadian Locomotive Company plant, linking downtown Kingston to railways in Canada and around the world. FF: the former Grand Trunk station was later a restaurant names Hanley Station, Award: K, I.
CHRIS MEARS: I discovered Chris' eclectic and insightful blog Prince Street Terminal in May, 2011. Chris shares varied interests from model railroading to GO Transit, commuter rail, English railways and many more eclectic and electrically esoteric realms beyond the humble island of PEI on which it began. He may be Canada's easternmost GO Transit fan. He enjoys a good beverage with a good book. And he can write. Well! PF: Beverage reviewer, Awards: I, F.
STEVE BOYKO: Steve began his blogging journey in July, 2005, and his Confessions of a Train Geek is now Canada's longest-running rail blog, with its current cut-line "Writing about trains since 2005". Steve's blogging encompasses model railroading, railfanning, travel and photography, recently taking on hosting a grain elevator photo site. Steve is a prolific blog reader and commenter, and I sometimes wonder how he has time to other things like eat and sleep. FF: Is a five-time geek i.e. medievalist geek, Awards: I, F.
KINGSTON MEET-UPs - I've been privileged to meet some Trackside Treasure readers here on the platform at Kingston's VIA station as they travelled by train. These gentlemen are their own Venn diagrams....VIAphiles like Shron and Soknacki, book contributors like Box and Hayman, travellers and photographers like Tolton and Fidelak, engineers like McCallum and Brennan. Sometimes I provided reading material for their rail journey. I'm fortunate to have them kindly sharing Trackside Treasure's message as they criss-cross Canada. NN: The Shron, Socks, Buffy and Terry John. Awards: I, E, K, F.
It has been a treat to get to know all of the above. Thanks as always to the blog partners, commenters, contributors, pointer-outers and readers. I would probably still push a weekly post out the door into cyberspace if it weren't for all of you, but knowing that two or three are reading and enjoying makes it all worthwhile! Sticking with the numeral idea, that's 547 published posts, 37 in draft form and starting Trackside Treasure's 11th year!
TLC's hit program "Railfan Sisters" latest episode takes place where much of my railfanning started - Portage la Prairie, MB! The episode explores the environs of the CP station/interpretive centre, and includes this train of CP coal empties pounding the Third St crossing: