Thursday, October 9, 2014

CP Victoria BC Yard

How often have you seen a full-sized model railroad yard in real life? You know, those little three-track, stub-ended yards with perfectly parallel tracks that can only hold about a dozen cars, looking like they were laid out with snap-track. In the prototype; the real world. Well, I found one a while ago and it has captivated me because of its rarity, its location and the facility of which it is part.
CP's shop complex in Victoria BC, on Vancouver Island, formerly the Esquimalt & Nanaimo is nestled near Victoria Harbour (orange oval - above). Jim Booth, who like me has lived in Kingston, recently kindly shared some of his photos of the yard (all-below). An overall, labelled aerial photo (above) shows the relative locations of each building. Notice how the complex is surrounded by mixed-use buildings, including business, recreational and residential uses.
But I have to return to the little yard. The farthest yard track was a team track that received characteristically varied loads - newsprint for the Times Colonist, appliances, foundry coke and even navigational buoys on flat cars! Jim's 1982 shot shows some ancient Service equipment occupying the shop tracks. Van, flat cars, auxiliary and even an archaic truss-rod, wooden denizen. Beyond the yard are the straightforward locomotive service facilities:
Sand tower, fuel shed, with car shop at right, including CP boxcars and a CN insulated car. Looks like Jim was there on a (typically) rainy day, in 1982! Some online links:
E&N Division CRHA Diesel Photo gallery, E&N Division CRHA Miscellaneous gallery (check out the photos of Canadian Forces vehicles being unloaded at the ramp!) Flickr Victoria Yard photo set by Chris City, E&N Port Alberni Subdivision Victoria Roundhouse photos, West Coast Ferries Forum Railways on Vancouver Island discussion and photo pages, and MDunhamWilkie's Flickr BC Railways photos. The roundhouse's location and adjacent Esquimalt Road, Catherine Street and Sitkum Road made views of both end of the yard frequent photo subjects for rail enthusiasts.
At Jim's request, I have retained his original captions for each photo. The exterior wall and connection to the backshop are shown in these two mid-1990's photos (above and below): 
The curved outer wall of the roundhouse and its connection to the backshop (below) beyond which lies the peaked roof of the carshop as it appeared in the late 1990's:

Check out the unique timber construction of the carshop's roof, with a VIA RDC in residence (above). Jim notes that roundhouse stalls were actually numbered counter-clockwise, and that the office/washroom addition is the only non-original part of the roundhouse. It's alive! VIA RDC-1 is posed in the roundhouse door, in Jim's photo taken in 1996 from across the turntable pit.
The clouds part as 6148 is visible from the inside of the roundhouse - the diminutive fuel shed is still there, though the wooden sand tower is gone.
Jim has drawn up some excellent drawings of CP's Victoria facilities, and and built a model of the roundhouse. The 10-track roundhouse and backshop:
 Stores building:
 Two-track car shop:
The entire Victoria operation would make a great layout - manageable-size freight consists, RDC operation, unique vegetation and building styles to model, and marine-rail intermodal possibilities. In fact, Calgary modeller David Bedard has done just that. An operating session before Calgary's Supertrain 2017 train show revealed David's nice modelling of the Victoria E&N facilities. Ken King kindly shared this photo. Thanks, Ken!
CP, later E&N Railfreight's Wellcox facilities are shown in 1997:

Running extra...

Kingstonian Ron Barrett snapped coolly-coloured Citirail 1337 (one of 15 ES44AC's leased to BNSF, notes Ron) on an eastbound oil train at Kingston's VIA station:
Watch for Trackside Treasure's November sale - an intriguing selection of railway photos, manuals and even train orders from my collection. Top four Google Images shown for collecting: postage stamps, licence plates, coins and insects. Trackside Treasure allows me to collect, centralize and organize data, photos...and my thoughts! Stuff I collect: stubby beer bottles, milk bottle tops, peelable creamer tops.

Coming soon: My Railfan Five Challenge. Like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge...except with train photos...and of course a challenge.


Anonymous said...

The BC Discovery Train of 1978 had an HO scale model railway display in one of the coaches. I was told that it had been built by a BC Government employee. My recollection of this model was that it was the Victoria yard as of a certain era. Maybe "that employee" was Jack Work?

Steve Lucas.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Very cool, Eric! Someday I have to get out on the Island.

Eric said...

Thanks, Steve & Steve. Very likely Jack Work - I intend to publish posts on the BC Discovery Train and also the Canadian version which toured extensively. We visited the island in 1968, including the Duncan logging museum, and again briefly in 1980. I've been lumping Victoria and Vancouver in together in my Pinterest board, as they shared some common equipment and one led to the other.

It was great to have Jim's photos to really make this post hop! An interesting location!

Thanks for your comments,

Shana said...

Hello Eric,

My name is Shana Quesnel and I work for Parks Canada with the goal of commemorating and sharing Canada’s history with the general public. We are interested in images of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Roundhouse in our educational history products and programs. Please reach out to me via email at

Thank you!

Eric said...

Will do, Shana. Thank for reaching out.