Saturday, February 23, 2019

Harry Klassen starts out with the CPR

I've come to know Harry Klassen over the past year or two. It was one discussion some time ago that Harry mentioned working during his student years for the CPR in Winnipeg. My spidey-senses were tingling! This was something I knew I had to know more about! I recently had the opportunity to ask Harry about his time with the CPR. Harry's responses to my questions are in italics and lightly-edited for style. I'd like to thank Harry for his candour and his time to willingly share his experiences which may have been old to him, but were interestingly new to me!
Harry began his time with Canadian Pacific as a news agent, working out of the CP station at Higgins & Main in Winnipeg (top photo - Phil Mason 1970's). Selling chocolate bars and magazines - with no control over what was being sold - even dirty magazines! Riding trains between Winnipeg and Chapleau, Harry would detrain there, since it was the turn-around point for news agents, with Toronto-Chapleau being the other end of the run.
Canadian Pacific News Service matchbooks give an idea of the services provided. 
I like pie!

Arriving at Chapleau, Harry was shocked. "Chapleau was the middle of nowhere! I'd never even heard of it!" (There was no highway at the time.) "Getting off the train...a drunk baggage handler meets you, takes your gear off to reload it and go back the next day, no new supplies, or maybe some. The cheese sandwiches were getting a little strange by the time I went back! I heard I'd be staying overnight at the Y, so I'd packed a bathing suit. What a joke! The baggage handler said the way to go to find the YMCA, and it was one of those places that had absolutely nothing. The bed was like this, a light hanging down on a wire with an individual light bulb. Wow, this isn't exactly what I was expecting!"

"Working back through the coach and day sleepers, the north shore of Lake Superior was great - spectacular views. At least the north shore postcards brought in some money - if you could talk someone into buying them, that is. The Canadian in May - there was no-one on the train - how could I make money selling to three dozen people??"

"But after I'd paid for my first year of university with a newspaper route I'd made money on and saved in high school, news agent was a fine job to put your way through university. I don't remember what I was paid but it was a pittance compared to what I earned later working in the linen room. I enjoyed the times riding the rails, sitting up in the dome car, above the coffee shop. That was kind of fun, watching the crazy light pointing up to the sky. 

The porters had no problem with Harry walking the train in the morning yelling out, "Coffee! Coffee!" because the passengers would get mad at Harry for waking them, not the porters doing it! Harry occasionally worked west, from Winnipeg to Calgary. 

"Calgary was the transition point for guys getting off and going to Vancouver. After awhile, I realized a news agent wasn't what I wanted to do, so I moved into the Linen Department and there were several issues there..."

"In Winnipeg, they off-loaded the linen for the dining car, the coffee car and the sleepers. We would make up the bags. Making up the bags took maybe an hour - if done very slowly! After the bags were made up, there was nothing more you could do. Nothing to do!"
Two Peter Cox photos from July 3, 1961 show two sections of the westbound Dominion, train No 7,  passing through CP's Winnipeg yards. The first with a Skyline and other stainless steel cars (above) and the second with head-end traffic (below)
"As soon as they [arrived] we had these little trolleys loaded up on the back, and my goodness sometimes they were pretty heavy. They would throw [off] the dirty stuff that we'd pick up and we'd replace it with the new. Because it was heavily unionized, the Dominion and the Canadian were the two trains being operated by the CPR by the time I got there. The Dominion only ran from the end of June to Labour Day - strictly a summer train. This meant only one train we had to deal with in May to the end of June. Even if you did bags as slowly as possible, you had one-and-a-half hours' work, but were paid for eight hours. Amazingly...our boss, working with us two university students, three of us in linen handling. He wanted us to make up the bags all by ourselves. We refused! We said we'd do our part and you do your part, thank you very much!"

"He didn't like that from these uppity students - but he wasn't about to pull a fast one on us. He wanted to sleep his way through. You began to realize why passenger service was going to be scuttled, badly! These guys, they couldn't have cared less about passengers or anything. We said 'isn't your job hanging in the balance?' What was going on - that was something I could never understand."

"They needed three people because the Canadian was a long train, only stopped in Winnipeg for 20 minutes. We were stationed one at the front, middle and end of the train.  The Dominion came in at 6 and the Canadian at 10 or 10:30, and our shift was 3-11. On the evening shift, the dirty linen didn't have to be separated - that was the morning shift's task. There were no trains to service, just going through the linen."

In the 1958 and 1964 CP system timetables, train No 2 arrived at 2245 and 2235 respectively, departing 2310 and 2300. The Dominion, No 8 arrived at 1835 and 1825 respectively, departing 1930 and 1920. It seems that those times were nearly cast in stone (perhaps the Tyndall limestone the station was built from!)

"Whipping tablecloths into big bins - sheets to one section, pillow cases to another, tablecloths and dish towels were also separated out. [No uniforms.]"

"Trains were pretty good - on time. If trains were late, you had to service them and got paid time-and-a-half. As university students, what did we care? No future job - no interest staying with CPR. All jobs were unionized - porters had their own union. Why would union guys want to work four hours a day - a 20 hour week? That wouldn't put food on the table!".

The firemen's strike, hearings and labour disruption in 1957-58 and the subsequent dissolution of steam firemen had implications that reached all the way to the linen room, as firemen were reassigned to other positions.

"My second year in the linen room - diesels got rid of firemen. A fireman with 20 years' experience came to work in the linen room with me - he had less seniority than me! I hated that - maybe I was making more money than he was!"

"The other thing we enjoyed, because Winnipeg was a hub, was [cars from the] Southern Pacific coming up to go to the mountains. They'd come up from Minneapolis. We'd walk through these trains and they'd have movie theatres, barer shops, hairdressing - where are we? We're in the Dark Ages in comparison! I knew a couple of big shots - D.V. Gonder CNR Prairie Region Vice-President, and John Kelso was a friend of my brother - lived in Montreal, moving there with CPR.

My thanks to Harry for so candidly sharing his memories of his early work years. It's this type of first-person history that is seldom preserved, but which we find so interesting just a few decades later!

Running extra...

Some of my fellow Kingston modellers were surprised at the rate of progress on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout. Update video here. My response to them? Quantity, not quality! But here are a few of my tips for making a rapid transformation in modelled locale. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary):
  • Think and plan before starting*. Not too long though, to prevent 'analysis paralysis'.
  • Retain current benchwork*. Let's not re-invent the wheel here.
  • Think out trackplan, then sketch it*. Use computer-based tools only if necessary
  • Change current trackplan to suit new industries and operations.
  • Don't be afraid to modify your new trackplan on the fly*. It's difficult to translate plans to plywood. Improvise, adapt!
  • Use Atlas flex-track and switches. Cut the ends, add joiners, screw down with Robertsons. I simply do not have the patience for hand-laid track or turnouts, nor intractable ballasting.
  • Use existing structures*. Modify or kitbash. New-build only when absolutely necessary.
  • Think creatively of using what you have, not buying what you think you need*.  This applies to locomotives, rolling stock, vehicles, scenery, and details. Heck, just about everything!
  • Produce more, advertise less. Be the George S. Patton of trackplan transformation! (*Above starred bullets are likely locations of paralysis analysis setting in. Be strong. Don't let it happen!)
  • Be cheap. Pinch those HO scale pennies. It's fun and challenging.
  • This is starting to sound like another free-standing post. Yikes!
Presland Iron and Metal (or Steel) is an example of a reworked structural flat (above). Formerly Vancouver Iron & Engineering Works on my Vancouver-based layout, this was some sort of Durango enginehouse train-show find. I opened it up and glued sides together to make a flat, inverted it to change window placement, added some scaffolding, gantry crane, transformers on poles, and other details to place the structure in the scene. Maybe I'll replace it in future. Or maybe not. It's already up and receiving metals traffic - doing its job!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

CP Wayfreight on Kingston's Hanley Spur in HO Scale

My HO-scale layout represents Kingston's Hanley Spur - a term I use to refer to CN and CP trackage on Kingston's waterfront. Kingston was served by CP wayfreights that originated on their Belleville Subdivision from Smiths Falls, ON. In the diesel era - usually powered by a single S-3, RS-23 or RS-18. On this day, the power du jour was this Baby Train-Master H16-44 8552. Let's follow the wayfreight from its arrival in Kingston until it's ready to return, having switched the local industries. You'll notice the same trainman in most of the photos. We'll call him 'Dave'. Section forces have some S&C hardware in their truck as the wayfreight arrives. 

In this case, my CP trains originate in the CN-CP interchange on Queens. Technically, this interchange north of the CN was a result of the CP Kingston Subdivision being truncated at the CN Kingston Subdivision realignment in the early 1970's. It's just a handy spot to make up the train and handle some cars to/from the CN. A short run over CN to reach the downtown trackage, here along Montreal Street as 'Dave' flags a crossing:
Stopped along Montreal Street near the CN Outer Station, Gus' Railway Restaurant is in foreground, with a stand-in structure for Presland Iton & Metal in background:
Interestingly, Presland is served by CN and CP joint trackage. Along with Frontenac Wall & Floor Tile, this bit of CP trackage was a remnant of their earlier crossing at grade with the CN. A BN gondola of steel joins a CP gon already spotted there now being removed as an empty. (The V.I.E.W. lettering is also a remnant - of my earlier Vancouver-based layout!) Dave is making the joint:
Moving down the spur, along Division Street, Dave gets ready to cut off two CN hoppers of gravel received in interchange for Gus Marker Cement. The wayfreight, marked by the CP gon from Presland, remains on the spur lead:
Three customers along Railway Street are served by CP: Weston's Bakery, MacCosham Van Lines and Gamble & Robinson. All are modern warehouses, the latter receiving shipments of building materials. Cars of flour are swapped at Weston's, with basic scenicking and stand-in structures still in evidence:
The near-end of the CP Kingston Subdivision is marked by a runaround track. Due to the down-and-back nature of the wayfreight's run, it was essential to have such an arrangement to prepare the train for its return northward journey. Some industries are switched off the runaround, such as Sowards Coal and I. Cohen, which are along the waterfront and south of the runaround. Dave is coupling en empty boxcar from Gamble & Robinson to the train;
Overhead view: cars to be left at the south end of the run are on the siding, with the train ready to return on the lead. Dave prepares to board the power for the final moves:
An empty CP Rail gon is spotted at the I. Cohen scrap metal yard for loading. Once again, Dave is right where he needs to be to complete the set-out:
Dave creatively yet unsafely climbs a concrete support to oversee the lifting of a Boston & Maine empty at Sowards coal trestle, with the CPR hopper of coal about to be spotted. I made those coalpiles out of plasticene on plastic lids, painted and with black sand poured on the wet paint. Do they look like ziggurats to you?? CN's line to the waterfront and eventually Canadian Locomotive Co. is at left, with its Imperial Oil bulk oil facility at the top left:
Two workers at the S. Anglin lumberyard watch as the load is spotted, safely using idler cars:
Newest customer on the CP line: Canadian Dredge & Dock. I'm still deciding whether or not to add a drydock here - I think the answer is going to be a yes.
A peek at the competition. Canadian Dredge & Dock is at left, facing CN's former Grand Trunk freight shed and team track. Serving downtown Kingston's freight needs from 1912 to the late 1960's, this facility dates my Hanley Spur layout to 1970 or earlier, the year it was demolished. But so far, I've resisted the temptation to model a year and/or month. With early diesels and occasional steam power, this layout will represent the 1950's to 1970's. I'm modelling an era.
Here's the current list of customers served by CN and CP with commodities and car types:

CN:
CN Express - express shipments in/out - boxcars/reefers
National Grocers - food/produce in - boxcars/reefers
Imperial Oil - oil in - tankcars, lubricants in - boxcars
Freight Shed/Team Track - merchandise in/out - boxcars/reefers/various
Presland Iron and Metal - steel in - gondolas
Canadian Locomotive Co. - steel/misc. in - gondolas/boxcars, locomotives out -  flatcars

CP:
Presland Iron and Metal - steel in - gondolas
Gus Marker Cement - cement, gravel in - covered hoppers/hoppers
Quattrocchi Specialty Foods - produce in - reefers
Weston's Bakeries - flour in - covered hoppers
MacCosham Van Lines - household effects in/out - boxcars
Gamble & Robinson - lumber in - boxcars
C.E. MacPherson - coal, steel in - hoppers/gondolas
Sowards Coal - coal in - hoppers
Canadian Dredge & Dock - materials in - various
S. Anglin Co. - lumber in - boxcars
I. Cohen Steel - scrap out - gondolas
Shell Oil - oil in - tankcars

Running extra...

Awards season....arrgh. Am I one of the last people to watch these smarmshowstravaganzas? Apparently they're on the wane. People are getting their award shows some other way besides staying up until after 11 p.m. But Kacey Musgraves swept the Grammys (Grammies? Grammees?) with her Tammy Wynette 2.0:
                                      
For one thing, the awards shows start off on the wrong foot. This is not an opening. Host: "Let's see who's here tonight. There's Mahershala Ali! There's George Clooney!", followed by some smarmy, self-serving smirky comments. Gimme a Billy Crystal opener anyday. Gimme Jiminy Glick! Gimme Oprah/Uma, Uma/Oprah. Guess who gets the Grumpy for awards show curmudgeon? Me. And I won't be there to accept the award.
Joni Mitchell's little-known sister Jeni was actually an Amtrak car attendant!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Kingston's New Railfan Walking Trail

Lake to the left, tracks to the right. This is what I was faced with when I decided to venture out into the bright but windy winter weather on a sunny January 17th to try out Kingston's new multi-use pathway. The sign says it all (top photo) but on this day, I was the only frozen ferroequinologist to be seen. Clearly, the path was made for railfans! Clear views across the driving lanes with good daytime lighting and sightlines!
While most major metropolitan centres try to promote capacity by adding lanes, Kingston promotes sustainability by converting lanes. More here on the project: City of Kingston "multi-use pathway" or "bikeway". I like the way it's shoehorned between the lake and CN's Kingston Sub! Live from the drafting table! Another westbound walker plodded from Vista Drive towards No Frills for some groceries (below). The two-track Toronto-Montreal CN Kingston Sub mainline is visible on the far side of Bath Road. At this point, it's your normal four lanes:
An evergreen eldorado, a coniferous cornucopia, a maple-laced metropolis beckoned at the end of Collins Bay on Lake Ontario. Once in a while, a non-train photo!                            
Looking west as I plod towards Collins Bay, perambulating from Mi 179 Kingston Sub to Mi 180. The pathway straddles the former shoulder of the road and the slow lane eastbound. The fast lane eastbound is now...the only lane. The path is marked by a variety of signs and curbs. There's parking here for Riley's Nursery:
Approaching the intermediate signals at Mi 179.6, with Queens West at Mi 176 behind me and another set of intermediate signals just past Mi 183 farther west. VIA makes an appearance:
 Watch the video of VIA No 45 here. Video captures (above and below).
Overlooking the intermediate signals, some railfan-friendly housing:
Coming alongside Lake Ontario at left, a gas line project has the westbound lanes of Bath Road narrowed (also) to one lane. A pickup-trucked Rule 42 foreman communicates with all approaching trains to ensure the tracks are not blocked or otherwise placing a train's predicted progress in peril:
May 2019 UPDATE...highest lake levels since 2017 provide this vista, with seawall breach and boathouse surrounded!
All-new LED light poles proliferate (above). It's like Times Square at night! All-old CN telegraph line barely hanging on (below) - this pole is vine-bedecked in warmer weather, and an adjacent pole fell down here and has been removed. Just across the tracks is Hillview Road, which used to be a level crossing before being closed for safety reasons. Double-whistling!  
Reached Collins Bay! Branch 631 of the Royal Canadian Legion at left is named in honour of Captain Matthew Dawe. Bath Road continues west from here to...Bath. Site of the Bath Water Filtration Plant. Collins Bay Road heads north just past the gas bar:
The legion branch used to be a Ken & Ray's grocery store, with the Bella Bistro railfan-friendly restaurant beyond it being an I-D-A drug store in days of yore! Canada's loudest (and slowest!) Tim Hortons drive-thru is in the mini-mall here:
Time to head back east. The sign portends the lane-sclerosed leeway beckoning ahead! But the plodding pedestrian railfan is well provided-for:
VIA comes through again, though CN would wait until I was safely home, out of the wind from the east and safely stopped on my front stoop!
Watch the video of VIA No 40 here. These are video captures of the train's passage, also at the intermediate signals. Check out the ex-Canadian Budd coach on the tail-end!
There used to be a farmhouse here, between these trees. A sign stood before them, beckoning homebuyers to the development in the former limestone quarry with a cheery, "Not just another field of homes", to which some wag applied a spray-painted rejoinder crossing out the 'Not'!
I'll venture out on this trail again. After all, it was built for railfans! Who needs to go walking at the mall when one can combine exercise with railfanning? And who says I can't do non-train photography?? One more - crossing a creek after leaving the Railfan Walking Trail:

Running extra...

On a roll with non-train photos! This just might become a photography blog. Or a nature blog! Or not! This time of year, lots of folks go squirrelly. We're entering another of the winter's most 'depressing' months along with November. But it's peak modelling season, as cold-weather modellers head to the layout room to take advantage of the not-so-nice weather. That's what I'm doing on my Hanley Spur layout:
I'm enjoying filling in the structures and holes on this layout, then scenicking them in. And operating. This is no wait-until-it's-done layout. Build, operate. As soon as this ex-Grand Trunk warehouse was scenicked in, I switched it. So these cars are no longer here, replaced with a smattering of 40-footers and 50-footers from Lehigh Valley, Burlington Northern, Canadian National and Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific!
Hey! We heard Will Smith was recently walking around our neighbourhood admiring the snow we had. All we had to do to confirm this was to look for the Fresh Prints!