Thursday, November 25, 2021

Kingston-Edmonton aboard VIA, 2019 - Part 1

All the trips I've made to western Canada aboard VIA Rail were missing one thing - a travelling companion! In 2019, Karen and I had been married for 32 years, and I was planning to retire, so it seemed to make sense to plan a trip together. My reading told me that retirees did most of their travelling in the first five years of retirement, after all. Karen wanted to see more of the mountains and I just wanted to ride in a sleeper again. We settled on a trip to visit relatives in Edmonton and Vernon BC, combined with seeing the mountains.

I'd been gradually accumulating VIA Preference points while travelling between Kingston and Toronto. This sweet sojourn would be even sweeter if it could be made using points! After convincing Karen (and myself!) that retiring at 55 was a good thing, I steeled myself for the phone call to the VIA reservations call centre. Actually, the agent who took my call couldn't have been more knowledgeable. She encouraged us to make the most of the accumulated points. Though there weren't enough to cover fare and accommodation for two all the way, the savvy agent broke the trip into four legs. With that bit of creativity, the points covered all but one of our legs. Success!

We planned to travel Kingston -Toronto on a Saturday, in preparation for the Sunday departure of VIA No 1, the Canadian on June 1, then a two-day and thirteen-hour trip covering 3,221 km to Edmonton from June 2 to June 4. After a three-day stay with Karen's brother Lorne and sister-in-law Chris, we'd drive into the mountains, spending two nights at Willow Ranch in Valemount, BC and driving on to Canmore for three more nights.  We planned to visit Jasper and Maligne Lake after leaving Edmonton, then tour Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Banff from our base in Canmore. Although this was not to be the 'railfan tour of the mountains' there would be ample CP (mixed with UP power), CN and Rocky Mountaineer trains to be seen on the drive.

Driving over the Continental Divide, our eight-hour day would take us to Vernon to visit Karen's distant cousin Diana. On the return drive, we planned to spend two nights in Golden, our base for touring Craigellachie, Field, Emerald Lake and Natural Bridge. The second-last day of driving would take us to the Spiral Tunnels, Jasper and Hinton, before returning to Edmonton to five more days visiting. Leaving Edmonton late on June 22 (actually June 23 due to prolonged departure), we'd arrive back in Toronto on June 25, overnighting there to make up for any late arrival and catch our Kingston-bound train on Saturday, June 26.

But before all that, there was the anticipation of the pending trip. Some travel columnists say the journey IS the destination. That may be true, (especially for a railfan riding a passenger train) but surely the journey IS the anticipation. The morning after my last shift at the hospital, I was on the Kingston station platform. Proudly clutching our tickets in one hand, I snapped a photo of their yellow splendour against the blue morning sky and the Kingston station sign. All was right with the world.

VIA No 63 had engine 908 and six LRC cars, including ours - 3361. We were soon ensconced in our (forward-facing!) pair of seats, noshing on the cart-served cheese tray by the time we passed my treasured Morningstar Road crossing west of Trenton. Upon arrival in Toronto, riding the Yonge TTC Subway to our overnight accommodation was fine, but the long city-block walk above with suitcases in tow? Warm! The evening's Tim Hortons coffee had its effects. Sleep was on-and-off. Again, the anticipation! We could doze aboard the Canadian, unlike any wide-awake white-knuckled driving marathon on the Trans-Canada!

Waking up at 0630 and retracing our route to Toronto Union Station took us to the VIA Panorama Lounge, full of expectant passengers for the Canadian. Only three other trains showed on the Departures board. Checking our suitcases in the Baggage Room, we returned to wait in the lounge. Service Manager Mario had a space schematic for the entire train. We were duly recorded as occupying Bedroom E of car 110, Cabot Manor. We made a 1730 dinner reservation. VIA Customer Delivery Manager, Western Services, and book contributor Mark Sampson greeted us in the lounge. Clad in safety vest with walkie-talkie in hand, Mark was there to oversee the departure of the Canadian from the Toronto end. We would meet Mark again at track level, and later on our eastward return journey.

We boarded en masse at 0915. Car attendant Dominique was orienting fellow passengers in our car. I might need to be oriented on an airliner, but here I was familiar with 1950's Budd engineering. Sure, VIA had updated features like the toilet (push the button - whoosh!) and replacing one section with a welcome shower. But an upper berth ladder was still a challenging climb, the aisle through a sleeper was still impassable by two, and the dome was still the place to be! Mark had kindly left a copy of the Prestige Class guidebook and a DVD of the Mighty Trains TV-series episode on the Canadian in our bedroom for us. What a guy!

On-time departure at 0945 led us out through Toronto's Condo Canyon, the chess game backup moves at Snider, industrial parks to nurseries, horse farms to farmland, and our first of many delays. We waited 35 minutes at CN's Setter siding for a southbound intermodal behind CN 3208, and blue GECX leaser 2036. In the Skyline, one car ahead of diner Emerald which was one car ahead of our Cabot Manor, we'd been fortified by three rounds of hors d'oeuvres and three glasses of champagne. Brunch would be served at 1300.

We listened to activity co-ordinator Jessica as she made the rounds of the dome, telling us that Prestige Class was introduced in 2014, that that it was fully-booked as far as Jasper. With the Prestige bedroom windows 60% bigger (and 60% higher fare!) we were now travelling in a three-class Canadian: Economy, Sleeper Plus and Prestige. Funny, we were all running late together, we all saw the same scenery and we all waited for our luggage to be unloaded from the same baggage car. Mark had trained with Jessica at VIA nine years earlier. The co-ordinators had a three-day, in-class session and were expected to go forth and do their own homework on the route travelled. Jessica clutched a multi-tabbed binder with the results.

Brunch came around Sparrow Lake, where we met an eastbound with 2836-2842 and leased ex-CSX 7349 (above). Karen enjoyed the omelette; for me the Transcontinental. A word about the Transcontinental. Though I'm not a popcorn person, I can eat bags of popcorn at the cineplex. I'm not a breakfast person, but at a restaurant, I can eat breakfast until lunch!  The Transcontinental included two eggs served any style with hash browns, and bacon, ham or breakfast sausages, served with toast and accompanied by strong railway coffee. This would be the Trip of Toast: perfect toast at Edmonton, perfect toast on the train.  In diner Emerald, itself clad in a colourful and unique Hudson Bay Exploration wrap, the chef outdid himself working in the cramped quarters, as did all the other chefs, all producing the Transcontinental with gastronomic goodness.

Directional running began at 1430, switching over to CP Parry Sound Sub rails at Mi. 21, Reynolds. We had a good view from the front left four-seater of Skyline 8501. Stopped at 1545, the Greenhouse Effect kicked in as the air-conditioning seemed to stop. The dome temperature soon started to climb. A puff of smoke could be seen emanating from the locomotives ahead. Hmm. Both engineers were visible standing on the ballast. Hmmm. Cool air was soon restored and we were on the move within ten minutes. 

Peter Hayes was lakeside in Parry Sound and posted a video of our train crossing the trestle. Emerald's unique wrap caught my eye and confirmed it was our train in his Youtube video at Parry Sound!

Do you assign nicknames to fellow travellers on a voyage? We did. There was Laptop Guy, on his way to a wedding in BC, always found in the dome near the plug-in for his ever-present namesake device. Mr Princeton was an IT guy from the New Jersey city, originally from India. Australian Lady asked us early-on in the trip whether this train went to British Columbia. The Newlyweds with their neck pillows were likely the youngest Sleeper Plus passengers. The Teetotallers from Melville, SK did not participate in the beer-tasting. The Smoker pestered the crew for the exact time of the next stop long enough for her to have a smoke. Ivan, a Vancouver restaurateur was the lucky winner of a VIA 40 Years golden ticket. The Italian Job? Two sunglass-wearing couples who enjoyed jigsaw puzzles below the Skyline dome. 

We regained CN rails at Mi 248 of CN's Bala Sub. Meeting an intermodal train led by CN 2249, the trainwatching was just getting interesting when the first sitting for dinner was called. Each diner-Skyline pair served five to six sleepers, so we needed our nicknames for our constant dome and dinner companions! Genteel dining car conversation does not blend well with note-taking and photo-snapping. CN 2689-5697 and blue IC 2460 were all in the yard at Capreol while Karen enjoyed garden salad with vinaigrette and chocolate caramel cake bracketing her prime rib with mashed. My prime rib was bracketed by clam chowder and lemon raspberry cake. Dining car steward Larry accepted cash payment for drink orders and gave out meal sitting times for the next day. We were booked for breakfast 0630-0830, brunch 0930-1400 and dinner 1700 (or 1900). An after-dinner rainbow tailed our tail-end:

Jessica took us on a beer-tasting tour in the Skyline dome as we ran about 80 minutes behind schedule.  We met a heavy eastbound potash unit train behind CN 2821-2954 and two DPU's at Ruel. "Are you Ivan?", I asked across the aisle during our enjoyable twilight dome time. Having arrived in Canada in 2008 from Ukraine with $1,000, he was now chef at a 300-seat restaurant. His wife and young son were in their bedroom, all three returning west on a Vancouver-Toronto-Niagara Falls return trip courtesy of VIA, I'd followed his social media posts with photos on the eastward trip, and that's how I recognized him - that small world of ours.

Long hours of June daylight caught up to us at 2230. Knowing our dinner sitting time, Dominique had turned down our beds. An upper berth for me with a fan blowing cool air, a soft pillow and ample duvet all combined with the train's motion playing their symphony of somnolence. A one-hour stop at Hornepayne was the only nighttime event noted before Longlac. There, we beat the rush for the welcome morning shower, complete with shower-kit in drawstring plastic VIA bag. We served ourselves Continental breakfast from the Skyline's lower level. A selection of cellophane-wrapped muffins, croissants, fruit, juice and coffee, and the real fuel the Canadian ran on: crinkly-wrapped two-packs of Peek Freans cookies! We were still predicted to arrive in Winnipeg at 1800. More about that later.

Ascending to the dome, surrounded by spruce, we were doing a mile a minute near Auden, now on CN's Caramat Sub. We pulled into a siding for an eastbound intermodal holding the main, powered by CN 2339-8000-5780, then another east of Armstrong with 2984-3089. More meets: at 0920 mainly auto racks behind 2931-3032 (below) then grain at 1015 behind 3853-3060.

Noon seemed like a suitably leisurely time for brunch. Karen sampled the 'ole-of-the-land' with the Spanish omelette while I continued going Transcontinental. By Savant Lake we were 150 minutes late, then 2 hours down by Sioux Lookout. Here, we hit the platform, then the ballast when we ran out of pavement (below, at the tail-end).  Passengers were not encouraged to visit the head-end at such stops. Refuelling trucks were positioned discouragingly. The consist of our No 1: 6421-6426-6435-8604-8103-8123-8516-Bayfield Manor-Monck Manor-Grant Manor-8501-Emerald-Cabot Manor-Hearne Manor-Craig Manor-Lorne Manor-Butler Manor-Cornwall Manor-8517-Frontenac-crew sleeper Chateau Closse-Chateau Varennes (Prestige)-Chateau Maisonneuve (P)-Kootenay Park (P).

We clipped along for awhile, causing dust clouds to rise from the freshly-dropped grey stone ballast. Obligingly stopped beside Lac Seul at 1445, the service manager shared the sorry story of our sputtering sojourn. Two eastbound freights, one with air problems and a hog-lawed crew, and VIA No 2 were ahead. We would spend three hours beside this providentially-picturesque lake, partly alleviated by Jessica's dionysian dissertation during wine-tasting at 1530. Sporadic spontaneous applause erupted over dinner in Emerald as we were once again wending our way westwards. The two freights and VIA 6432-6454's No 2 had trundled by us and the closed Hudson lumber mill. Now we were six hours late! Our before-and-after minestrone soup and cold creme brulees with Karen's chicken with pesto sauce, and my crusted salmon, were settling nicely as we chatted with Laptop Guy and an Australian teacher on an Amtrak-VIA Inside Passage tour. We were soon back the Skyline topping treetops, watching a bald eagle along the Wabigoon River, now on CN's Redditt Sub.

Positively picturesque, so began another enjoyable Skyline sunset with rays piercing through clouds, reflected in shimmering lineside lakes. There are tunnels (below) at Mi 41, two at Mi 88, then two at Mi 135, the last until the Rockies are reached. Ivan, Laptop Guy and young Eric, a Canadian Trackside Guide-equipped Illinois lad on a gifted grad trip, his parents in tow, joined us as we talked trains into Winnipeg. Visions of touring The Peg were dashed by our continued lateness. 

Late trains do indeed get later, and our arrival was four hours late. We had hoped to meet Winnipeg railfans Steve Boyko, Mark Perry and Brian Schuff but the late hour and looming next day of work claimed all but the stalwart blogger Steve. VIA 6456-6404 and 6448-6455 led two five-car stainless steel consists sitting beneath the trainshed. We toured the concourse, street view and trackside views of the historic station with Steve before reboarding at 0015. As we left at 0045, we were three hours and 15 minutes late.

Six freights had come and gone by the time our silvery stainless steel consist snaked its way out of the Depot (above). We watched the city lights, apartment blocks and big-box stores recede from the dome windows, before returning to sleep the night away into Saskatchewan. 

Though I think back daily to my visits to my aunt and uncle in Portage la Prairie, this would be my first time to be back through Portage since 1986. Though we might have arranged a stopover with Uncle Wilf, this late hour confirmed we were not worthy of sacrificing a night of his sleep. Instead, I wedged myself on the floot next to the window, quietly watching miles of prairie tick off in the darkness as Karen slept. So much had changed over the intervening years. My twenty-something years, familiar landmarks like the town's grain elevators, and even my dear Aunt Rosemary were all gone. I could still recognize the CN station and feel the clattering over the diamonds at West Tower. My remembrance over, my reverential reverie ended, and it was time to turn in and perchance dream of Portage again. 

Sun spilling in the window at Cana Junction (above) signalled the start of day three in Saskatchewan. On the third day we rose again, early for showers then up to the dome to witness remaining wooden elevators. They were many fewer in number and most were now privately-owned, unlike the ones I photographed 33 years earlier! Our 0700 arrival at Melville meant we were an even two hours late entering CN's Watrous Sub. The rolling Touchwood Hills relieved the flatlands. Elevators at Hubbard (former SaskPool, now Bryck Farms, below), Ituna, Kelliher, Leross, Punnichy, Raymore, Seamans, Watrous and Bradwell all signalled familiar territory from my 1986 trip.

Eastbounds: CN 8933-5410 with intermodal near Melville; another 50 miles west it was 8864-2225 at Quinton and 2888-3133 at Young, then miraculously, Saskatoon shimmering in the sunshine as we sidled into the station on time. We stretched our legs on the platform. Walking into the station was like walking back in to the Seventies. CN-era signage in the capacious station, and only a small ticket counter area in use. Departing the station after a reverse movement, the Canadian slowly shed Saskatoon. We were again ensconced in Emerald at 1030 for my third Transcontinental, and Karen's quinoa salad accompanied by complimentary mimosas. 

Elevators at Asquith, Kinley, Leney, Biggar, Landis, Reford, Unity, Chauvin, Edgerton and Bruce were a nice mix of in-service, old and new, rail-served or no longer, and some in other uses. CN freight traffic was heavy, and delays numerous, due to excavation and installation of additional trackage between Saskatoon and Biggar. Eastbound at Saskatoon was 2823-3178, Juniata 8955-2519 and 2883-2502; 5611-5662 and 2646 leading intermodal near Biggar. There were ten more trains met before we reached Wainwright and gained CN's Wainwright Sub. 

We managed only 56 miles in just under two hours, averaging 30 mph. Things were so congested that our wait for three eastbounds around Mi 126 involved pulling into a siding behind a westbound grain train for one hour. Once in the clear, we backed out onto the main with our engineer on the ground to close the east siding switch. We crossed the Battle River and 2,910-foot trestle at Fabyan on our way to the diner (below). 

Dinner gave me a chance to practise my French and also to quickly reveal its shortcomings. A professional couple from Quebec City was seated across from us. We did our unbilingual best as we both enjoyed pork tenderloin with cranberry compote. Bidding our table companions "Bon voyage" we headed back to the Skyline for boisterous beer-tasting with activity co-ordinator J-P, before our slow entry through East Junction and North Edmonton, alongside Edmonton's yards and a reverse move onto the Edmonton station track:
Our June 14 visit to Craigellachie (below) was well-timed. Arriving at 1230 via the adjacent Trans-Canada Highway, CP obliged by sending through two westbounds with CP 8026-UP 6376 and DPU 8649, then CP 8034-UP 3963 and tail-end DPU 8738. Back in Golden that night, there were at least seven more CP freights over four hours. 

We had scattered train sightings during our mountain touring, and at the Spiral Tunnels lookout, CP obligingly sent an eastbound grain train that we could watch creak and squeal through three segments of its downhill descent, even though Parks Canada has discouraged tree-cutting thereby hindering visits' visibility of same. 

Our return trip will be in Part 2.

Running extra...

While blogging, I'm enjoying an annual Christmas tradition. It seems early, but Elf staring Will Ferrell is being broadcast for the first of its 174 airings this coming season. [Random quote "I don't know, Connie. I've never de-clawed kittens before. How many?] This airing is on MTV. Shouldn't it be on Santa Claus TV?

Speaking of SCTV, alumna Catherine O'Hara is being honoured in tomorrow night's broadcast of the Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards. Sure, SCTV was big in its day, but for pure CBC campiness, you couldn't beat my tweenage must-see: Coming Up Rosie. Before they were big stars, Dan Aykroyd, Catherine O'Hara, Rosemary Radcliffe, Jon Candy, Fiona Reid and Barrie Baldaro and much, much more.

Somebody started a rumour that a Grand Canyon Railway MLW FPA-4 is coming back to Canada in VIA colours. Perhaps it's just a historical association between the two previous owners, but I think it could B. Or in this case, A.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Harrowsmith, ON Part 6 - The CNoR Story

The Kingston & Pembroke (K&P) Railway, better-known as the ‘Kick and Push’ is the best-known line through South Frontenac Township, but it is not the only one! A second line, running east-west and crossing the north-south K&P at Harrowsmith, was the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR).

The first inter-city mainline across south-eastern Ontario was the Toronto-Montreal Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) built through Kingston in 1856, later Canadian National Railways (CNR). The second mainline was the Ontario & Quebec Railway, built through Sharbot Lake in 1883, later Canadian Pacific. 

Enter two of Canada’s most dynamic railway builders, Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann. Having begun their Canadian Northern Railway empire in Western Canada, they were now seeking an Ontario connection. Such a link would enable Mackenzie and Mann to complete a transcontinental line linking British Columbia to Quebec. Their railway empire grew to 9,433 miles in 19 years!

The GTR had established its line early, able to choose the best route with stations and yards close to downtown areas of communities along Lake Ontario. The CNoR was left with an inferior route, far from towns or cities. It even found itself paralleling and following the GTR from Port Hope to Deseronto.  

Mackenzie and Mann built their mostly-new southern Ontario line in three sections. The first left Todmorden, outside Toronto, reaching Trenton 105 miles later, opening on September 30, 1911. The second section connected Trenton to Deseronto over 28 miles, opening January 30, 1912. The final section from Sydenham to Hurdman, outside Ottawa, 86 miles long, entered service on December 30, 1913. But wait, what about Deseronto-Sydenham?

Mackenzie and Mann bought the Deseronto-Sydenham Bay of Quinte (BofQ) Railway in 1909, at a substantial loss to its previous owners. The only pre-existing part of their route, not requiring new construction, its purchase completed a through Toronto-Ottawa Canadian Northern inter-city mainline, extending to Montreal. The CNoR did re-engineer some parts of the line to make it faster for passenger trains, notably at Yarker, and between Sydenham and Harrowsmith. Queen's Journal 1903 ad for the Rathbun Company and their BofQ:

The entire line, when completed, was 255 miles long and 25 miles shorter than any rival route. It opened up the Rideau lake country which until then only had waterborne transportation links. CNoR stations were opened at Rideau Junction, Richmond, Smiths Falls, Portland, Lombardy, Chaffey’s Locks, Forfar, Bedford Mills, Perth Road and existing stations at Sydenham, Harrowsmith and Napanee. The first through train marking this new connection left Toronto on October 7, 1913, arriving in Ottawa at 1:00 the next day. 

The initial Harrowsmith to Sydenham line was planned to be three miles, but due to a grade between the two communities, a greater distance was more advantageous, resulting in the building of an additional 1.3 miles. The line passed through Harrowsmith, then continued east after the K&P split off to the south and Kingston. The track hugged the top of the cliff overlooking 'the flats' to Sydenham, and today’s Rutledge Road descends to the level of the swampy land that extends south toward Murvale. The sharp curve on the CN line was engineered to ease the grade. 

The new CNoR line served an existing lead concentrating plant at Perth Road at the country’s largest mica mine at Sydenham.  Sydenham was an important shipping point for phosphate, feldspar, mica, hogs and cattle. The village also boasted sawmills, a shingle mill and grist mill. Acme Farmers’ Dairy built a milk-processing plant in 1917, later closing in 1953. An apple-evaporator business was built near the station on the north side of Bedford Street. Sydenham’s station lasted until 1966, and its location is better-known as the Brewers Retail/Beer Store! Just to the east, a turntable and one-stall enginehouse was built at the shore of Sydenham Lake, dating from the days when Sydenham was the 'end of the line'.

To the east, the (now) ghost village of Opinicon hosted three sawmills, a shingle mill, cheese factory and phosphate mine dating to 1870. Later, a sawmill operated between Rock Lake and Opinicon Lake, and a flour mill was at the outlet of Rock Lake Creek. This settlement was connected to Bedford Mills by the Old Bedford Road that was crossed by the railway. A feldspar mine on Upper Rock Lake shipped its product by rail. It was taken by barge through a canal dug between Upper Rock Lake and Stonehouse Lake, then loaded on flatcars on a siding at Stonehouse Lake.

Storrington was perhaps better-known for its boat-building than any railway connection. Barges for the Rideau Canal were built by the Dog Lake shipyards as early as the 1860’s. Cordwood was taken down to Kingston, with coal carried north to Ottawa on the return voyage.

At Forfar, a connecting line for the Canadian Northern line was bought by Mackenzie and Mann in 1911. It secured a connection to Brockville and St. Lawrence shipping. Originally grandly called the Brockville, Westport and Sault Ste. Marie Railway in 1888, the 45-mile line linked Lyn Junction, near Brockville, to Westport. Its balky construction included the ferrying of a steam locomotive and two freight cars up the Rideau Canal from Kingston to Newboro in 1889! Renamed the Brockville, Westport and North Western Railway in 1903, its owners perhaps realized then that the Sault was far beyond their grasp! A trip along the line lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. World War I and the ensuing economic slump was bad news for Canada’s overbuilt railway network. Basically broke from its beginning, the CNoR became part of the Canadian National Railways on December 20, 1918, and finally legally in January, 1923. The CNR renamed this line the Westport Subdivision, crossing its Napanee-Ottawa Smiths Falls Subdivision at Forfar Junction. The Westport Subdivision was abandoned in 1952.

Three archival photos of CN train No 340 at Westport (above) and Brockville (below), photographer unknown.
CN No 340 at Delta:

According to CNR timetables, in 1931 the Smiths Falls Subdivision hosted four daily passenger trains: numbers 7 and 35 Ottawa-Toronto, and Toronto-Ottawa numbers 8 and 36. Passenger trains had a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour, while the line’s four freight trains could not exceed 30 miles per hour. Freight train number 510 operated three times per week from Yarker to Ottawa, with its westbound counterpart 511 running on opposite days Ottawa to Yarker. Through freight 448 ran Belleville-Napanee-Ottawa, and its westbound counterpart 447 in the opposite direction, each six days per week.

Due to a curve four miles east of Perth Road station, train speeds were cut in half there. The same speed restriction existed on the curving grade up to Harrowsmith from Sydenham. Area stations were located at Chaffey’s Locks, 62 miles west of Federal (near Ottawa), Buck Lake at mile 71, Perth Road at mile 74, Sydenham at mile 80 and Harrowsmith at mile 85. Three-car spur tracks were built at Storrington Feldspar at mile 69.5 and another was simply named Mica at Mile 77.6

The Buck Lake stop disappeared by the 1944 timetable, as did the passenger trains. Passengers then travelled on mixed trains (a coach attached to a regular freight train) 337 between Forfar Junction and Napanee on Tuesdays and Fridays, and 338 Napanee-Forfar Junction on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Through mixed trains 445 and 446 ran daily except Sunday between Napanee and Ottawa. 

Mixed train from Napanee, taken at Forfar in April, 1951. (CSTM Mattingly Collection MAT000299)

By 1955, the only scheduled trains were freight trains 445 and 446. These carried Ottawa-Toronto freight traffic and handled any cars for customers along the line, such as the paper mill at Strathcona, just east of Napanee. 

On Valentine's Day, 1966, CNR began running opposing overnight Cavalier trains between Ottawa and Toronto.  Completely separate from the Montreal-Toronto overnight trains, this pair ran between Smiths Falls and Napanee on the ex-Canadian Northern line, not on the CP line to Brockville used by the day trains. As of February 1, 1971 Montreal - Toronto and Ottawa - Toronto night trains were combined/split at Belleville. With two locomotives and several baggage cars, coaches and sleeping cars, the Cavaliers left Toronto or Ottawa late at night, stopping only at Smiths Falls before arriving in Ottawa or Toronto early the next morning. Interestingly, these trains operated until October, 1978! After that date, the Cavalier route was changed, and from then until its cancellation by VIA Rail in 1989, the overnight trains travelled over CPR rails from Brockville to Smiths Falls then CNR rails from there to Ottawa. 

The improvement of roads, and the convenience of road transportation led to CNR ending operations on  the Smiths Falls Subdivision around 1980. The tracks were lifted in the spring of 1989 from Forfar to Harrowsmith. The Strathcona-Smiths Falls section of the CNR Smiths Falls Subdivision was donated by the CNR for conservation authority trail use in 1997, and is now known as the Cataraqui Trail. 

Running extra...

Last Sunday, CN section forces were working on the trestle over the Little Cataraqui Creek, between Bath Road and Armstrong Road. Of course, with my luck, the 'action' was on the far side of the trestle. Thanks to fellow Associated Railroaders of Kingston member Paul Hunter for the heads-up.
This is just fun to watch! Due to intermittent trackwork on the CN Oakville Sub, this detour via Weston and Halton Subs is nicely featured in this video. Filmed from the tail-end. Some highlights were new CIAX ore jennies between 3:45 and 4:50 mark, then equilateral turnouts at the 43:15 mark.

Friday, November 12, 2021

CN Predecessor Tie Cars, Part 2

CN's scrap-tie car fleet of nine years ago was profiled an earlier post. In March, 2012 I'd found polyglot CC, AC, SSAM and other CN-predecessor road cars at the Kingston team track. Two springs earlier, on May 3, 2010 I'd noted another group of cars, spotted for scrap-tie loading from the spring tie program. From the east (top photo):
  • IC 387259 hopper Blt  5/69, Rebuilt 5/81
  • IC 365497 hopper Blt 4/79
  • BCOL 9103 gondola 
  • IC 365373 hopper
  • IC 365259 hopper Blt 2/79
  • BLE 50211 hopper Blt 3/79
  • ICG 246644 gondola Blt 10/81
  • CN 137183 gondola
(This post has lain in draft form for nine years!) Looking east to the rest of the Cataraqui Spur:
Where once the mighty Cataraqui Spur trod! Now a dead-end team track and runaround east of Gardiners Road, the CN Kingston Sub is reached by a connection at left (above) as we look east down the 'Cat Spur', now used to serve only the Invista nylon plant on Front Road. Back to the tie cars!
These IC cars (above and below) were likely used in coal service. Holes in steel do not bode well for long service, and it's tough for removed ties to fit through those holes, hence the cars' new, non-interchange service!
Still dolled-up in dogwood, BCOL 9103 has new stencilled reporting marks but retains its dogwood steel plate logo!
The shady side of BCOL 9103:
Bessemer & Lake Erie, another CN predecessor road that was acquired as part of Great Lakes Transportation, LLC when CN was building its network on the southern side of the Great Lakes:
CN 137183 had welded patches on the lower sides, with ICG 246644 at right, stenciled "Return to ICG RR via nearest connection when empty":
The view from the sunny side, formerly the receiving entrance for Kingston's K-Mart:

Later that month, I observed another assorted, even more diverse cut of cars. I took photos, but almost all were on the shade side, so I'll just give the car information here:
  • IC 387448 hopper Blt 5/68, Rebuilt 5/81
  • BCOL 9264 green gondola Blt 7/72, dogwood logo painted out
  • WC 54240 white gondola Blt 9/95
  • IC 387185 hopper
  • CN 56120 DIFCO dump car Built 12/81
  • CN 198588 short gypsum hopper Built 10/64
  • WC 33064 ex-BN hopper Blt 3/78
  • WC 33031 ex-BN hopper Blt 4/78
Running extra...

One year ago, I walked into Kingston's own Novel Idea Bookstore with a few copies of my first book on Kingston waterfront history. This past week, I was there again. Oscar and his staff have been great to deal with. As a show of faith, he has stocked as many copies of my newest book in one order as he did in all previous orders of my first!
Granted, I haven't tried dealing with Chapters, or Indigo, or whatever they go by currently, or the death star that is Amazon. Just as with graphic design and printing at Allan Graphics, I'm happy to deal with a local operation, and Novel Idea Bookstore has been supportive of my efforts.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Pop-up Post: CN No 376, November 2021

CN 8810 and 2663 shepherd the key train at 30 mph
More photos. Less Text. Wednesday, while heading west for a pizza pick-up, Toronto-Montreal CN No 376 could be seen in the distance, descending into Collins Bay. Here is a pop-up post of the train. I desperately try to find some interesting freight cars and had some moderate success on this chemical-laden DPU-equipped monster. Previous pop-up posts of 376 were published in February 2021October 2016May 2016, and January 2016.
Fall skies behind the train as it heads eastward
.
Shades of the Cotton Belt - SSW 70429

Even tank cars now get tagged - like SHPX 229478


Three coil cars - WFRX 382142-GACX 75806-WFRX 383982


Tarnished gold - SSW 557019

DPU 8962

Two scrap cars - AIMX 20200 and 15084


One of three combination-door boxcars - CN 598124 and a few cars later...

...sister car CN 598125

It's football season - CFL 1012

Third of three - CN 598173 with interesting stencilled reporting marks

Several green ethylene glycol tank cars

Sometimes 20 of these plain-janes - ACFX 67840 solo today

Bring on the Bessemer - BLE 30168

The Man with No Name - possibly PLWX 44503

Here's why - making its last (non-revenue) trip

Michael da Costa confirmed that PLWX 44503 was on its way to American Iron and Metal in Montreal for scrapping. With that it was a rendez-vous with roundness, a parade of pepperoni, a dinner of diameter!

Running extra...

At this week's Associated Railroaders of Kingston Zoom meeting, we had the pleasure of a presentation by noted Canadian railway author and photographer Bill Linley. Add preservationist to Bill's list of accomplishments, as he was humbly instrumental in the moving and stabilization of 4-6-0 CNR 1274/1521 to Nova Scotia's Middleton Railway Museum.

The renumbering to 1521 took place to make room in CN's numbering system for SW1200RS's built in 1957. My brother had scanned an interesting slide taken by our Dad back in the summer of 1960. 'Take Your Three Year-Old to the Scrapline Day!' - hey, why not? On the pilot of 1521 in the Turcot Yard scrapline, who could have predicted the twists and turns in the future of this locomotive? 

Thursday is Remembrance Day. I've been researching a series that I've entitled 'More Than Poppies', linking each day in November with a Canadian military achievement that happened on that date. Trying to break free of the usual remembrance themes, it's clear the Canada's military experiences spanned four centuries and the entire world. Attend an in-person or streamed service, learn more, and wear a poppy! 
Kingston's own 21st Battalion monument in City Park