Friday, April 12, 2024

Railfans don't age - we just lose track of each other

In my early elementary educational days at Amherst View Public School (AVPS) we were graced with a somewhat-distant, yet clear view of the CN Kingston Subdivision. The view was best from north-facing classrooms, with the school playground, Amherst Drive and township sports fields between the school and the tracks (between the red lines, with CN double-track mainline running across top of photo - below). We saw a lot of trains, including the very birth of VIA. My brother suggested that today's students could stay in class and remotely pilot their drones to get a better view!
A few of my classmates and I became our own train-watching club. Compared to today's 'foamers', our resources were scant. There was no internet, not even message boards, and newsletters were filled with stories of what was happening in the big cities. But did that stop us? No. We wrote away to GMDD in London for 8x10 glossy B&W builder's photos. Whether it was TRAINS magazine, Extra 2200 South, or the fledgling Railfan magazine, we learned what we could and noted what we observed. 

Drew, Mark and I spent lots of time at the tracks outside school hours, sometimes in Saturday morning pre-dawn darkness whether wind-whistling winter or sticky-humid summer. One day, a dog was struck at the farm crossing near the water tower. All students were told NOT to go up to the crossing after school. I think half the school was there, us included.

I was a late adopter of 35 mm photography among the group. We were all band kids and were able to go on several exchange trips in high school. The ultimate was a train-plane trip from Kingston to Port Moody, BC in 1980. One of our roles in the ostensibly-educational trip was to prepare a 'boredom prevention package' of maps, puzzles and online information and schedule.

I had the opportunity to reconnect with Drew recently. In town to look after his parents' affairs, we met and in a melancholy moment, I noted that we were both now orphans. 

Drew and I made a highlight trip to Hamilton's Bayview Junction in May, 1981 that I still have to profile on Trackside Treasure. With his Konica T4, Drew is retrieving some train orders that were well-travelled (read on!) as Amtrak 344 with 6 cars Amfleet equipment heading south, and fellow foamers. Bayview Jct on June 23, 1981:
And back at ya! Tempo unit CN 3150 passes a [not ours] K-car. We were driving in Drew's parents' Chevy station wagon.
We independently visited CN's Spadina roundhouse in Toronto in the era that a descent from the Spadina Street overpass (or visit with Steampipe who lived along the tracks) and a signature on a release form was all that was required. Then cab visits via monkey-bar MLW-climbing, jungle-gym Geep data-gathering, and cab-unit clambering ensued.

Getting together over grain-based beverages, we were able to wallow in nostalgia and share punchlines, memories and stories that no-one else would know, at least outside our own small group from 40 years ago. Some days, I can't remember by noon what I had for breakfast, but these long-gone details were close to the frontal lobes of our memory.
We chatted for hours, mere steps from the Hanley Spur joint track section that ended at lower Princess Street (present-day and archival views - above). If I cocked my ear, I thought I could hear flange squeal and the escaping steam down the alley - CN and switchers dragging out just-built CLC's and CP mixed trains going back and forth. We even discussed our limited Hanley Spur memories - Mark's Grampa Miller at Knapp's Boat Works and the HMCS Inch Arran that Drew used to call 'the battleship'! (Plus, there was Grampa Chet and Gramps Reynolds - so many grampas!)

We got to adulting issues like aging parents, estate management, former teachers, family and friends, and retirement options among the SD40's, RDC's and VIA trains trips along the pathways from our pasts. Drew was a member of my wedding party, and we both had roles in Mark's wedding. Mark is still a pilot. Speaking of flying, living out West, Drew has to fly home periodically. We caught up on all our former classmates, relishing several instances of RFTD (Return From The Dead). That's our term for fellow students who we'd thought had disappeared, then magically pop back into our lives in unexpected ways.

Drew has occasionally and generously gifted me with some of his railfan heirlooms from his parents' place, including the notable train orders from Bayview above. And this visit was no different.
At 1324 on November 4, 1978 I Instamatically photographed CN 4518  with a couple of CN hoppers in tow ahead of caboose 79449, passing the Amherst View water tank with railfan friend Drew sitting on the fence getting a much better view. The view has changed, trees felled, new trees grown, fencing added, visibility subtracted, but the memories of trains we watched here remain. 

They say old friends are the best friends, and I think that's true.

Running extra...

I'm so proud to share in fellow blogger Chris Mears' success elation at the publication of his first magazine ONE. To quote Chris, "Making One was not a copy-paste job. The magazine is filled with new drawings, new words. I loved making this art so much and that alone powered me through so many moments where I wanted to 'not do this anymore'....Prince Street has existed for fifteen years and feels, at times, like it has its own character. That said, holding onto One is exactly what I wanted it to feel like: offline, released from under glass. There is nothing like the feel of paper. I love it."

Chris was kind enough to let me know my copy is already on its way. I believe strongly in encouraging and supporting each other as we rubber ball-bounce around the boundless blogosphere. It's great to see Chris busting out of the blogosphere into new media like video and publishing. That moment he experienced took me back to seeing the first draft of my VIA Rail book on a work computer, sent to me by my graphic designer Bryan Babcock. It's a given that Chris has put a lot of thought into everything he does. It's so nice to see something than the usual rota of MR press articles: Concept, Benchwork, Wiring, blah-blah-blah-boring. I heartily hope you'll check out Chris' work.

I know that Chris values having things to look at in our hands. He's announced that the first print run has already sold out! So I can't wait to get my hands on his magazine and I'm looking very much forward to TWENTY-SEVEN. No pressure, Chris!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Kingston & Pembroke Stations

Even though there's a comprehensive Kingston & Pembroke (K&P) website, the stations (later CP) in Frontenac County have rarely been shown in sequence. In this final post in this four-post series, pictured south to north are: Kingston, Glenvale, Murvale, Harrowsmith, Sigsworth (flag stop), Hartington, Verona, Godfrey. Farther north were: Hinchinbrooke, Parham, Olden, Sharbot Lake, Oso, Clarendon, Mississippi and Snow Road. (Photos in this post posted to Facebook Vintage Kingston Group unless otherwise noted.)  

The K&P's first station in Kingston was at Place d'Armes and Ontario Street, shown as the Frontenac Lumber and Coal Co., with the original engine house is just visible at right (top photo - Queen's University Archives, Kingston Picture Collection, V23.6 IndB Frontenac Lumber). The building was dismantled in 1924.

The much better-known K&P station that still stands is across Ontario Street from City Hall. (Queen's University Archives, Hazelgrove Slide Collection, V020-5-534) shown on April 8, 1962:


Murvale in October, 1970  (Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-39-108)
Darcy Laframboise finds some interesting items at Murvale with a metal detector. 
Harrowsmith, 1960 

Hartington, 1948 (Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Aerial Photographs, V25.6-1-6-35)
Note that the nation track has been stub-ended, with a plank required to reach the main track from the station wooden platform. Before a station was built at Hartington, Sigsworth flag-stop on the Petworth Road was a grain-shipping point for the area as early as 1887.

Verona in October, 1970 (Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-39-109)
Verona, 1910 
George Lilley took several angles during his visit, some artistic.

Godfrey, undated 

Running extra...
Every other news story this weekend seems to be eclipsed by....well, the eclipse. Since we're on the path of totality here in Kingston, the city has predicted up to 500,000 may visit to see what Kingston looks like in the dark. 
A terrible confluence of construction consternation coincided with dark humour this week as the LaSalle Causeway, courtesy of Public Services and Procurement Canada and its contractor, was rendered useless until repaired. Here's a retrospective look before the major support member under the counterweight was bent, pending counterweight removal and repair. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

Kingston & Pembroke Facilities in Kingston

This is the third in a four-post series on the Kingston & Pembroke Railway. This post deals with the buildings and facilities that the K&P, and later CP, inhabited in Kingston. Its terminus was across Ontario Street from Kingston City Hall (top photo - Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Aerial Photographs, V25.6-10-7).


Its initial request to build on Fort Frontenac lands was refused, so the K&P instead settled on Place d’Armes in 1873. Its principal address in Kingston was listed as Place d’Armes in 1885, and the original station of the K&P in Kingston was built there (three-storey building, centre of 1920 photo below, with engine house visible at bottom right). The site had previously been used by the military in Kingston as a 'fuel yard'. The station became the office building for the Frontenac Lumber & Coal Company. A spur was later laid crossing Ontario Street to serve the Montreal Transportation Company grain elevator. A small two-stall engine house was built nearby, in use between 1877 and 1883, and the track continued to North Street. 
In 1929, CP’s Kingston ticket, express freight and steamship office was at 180 Wellington Street. Its freight offices were at the foot of Clarence Street and passenger station was listed as being opposite City Hall. The track closest to the station was considered the mainline, with the adjacent track serving as an engine run-around track. The next tracks received perishable shipments such as refrigerator cars for Toye’s Wholesale or newsprint for the Whig-Standard. The next two tracks held cars spotted for the freight shed, with CN’s track to the locomotive plant and shipyards at waterside.  The  plan below includes the Market Battery, then only a memory. 

Although the K&P had negotiated running rights with the GTR from River Street to near Brock and Ontario Streets in 1886, it requested and was approved construction of its own track between Brock Street and the K&P passenger station across from City Hall. A February, 1957 lake view shows freight cars on the CN and CP trackage at water's edge, and the CP freight station and sheds (below - Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-51-37-307-1). switchman’s wooden shanty north of Barrack Street and west of Ontario Street housed a CN flagman to cover CP movements across CN even into the early 1960’s (circled in yellow in photo above).  
Here's a different angle, from the Wolfe Island ferry dock in July, 1963 (Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds, V142.1-24) with CLC in the distance at left:


Built in 1885 at a cost of $12,000 and measuring 65 x 24 feet, the stone station included stone from the demolished Market Battery nearby. Designed by William Newlands, main floor wider central curved windows as well as other curved windows were crowned with coloured art glass fanlights. The bellcast roof featured six gabled dormers and a patterned slate covering topped by iron fringework. The interior was finished in natural woods. A 125-foot covered passageway led to the station baggage room. Drawings and descriptions published in a December 10, 1886 edition of the Whig (below) and both buildings were finished and occupied by the following July.
After the end of passenger service, the baggage room is being demolished on February 29, 1960 (below - Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-26-99)
In the 1920’s, large floral CPR lettering was part of the decorative station gardens. The station is still in use as Kingston’s Visitor Information Centre.

From 1917 to 1923, perennial plans for the construction of CP freight sheds on Place d'Armes near the then-CN, ex-GTR freight sheds built in 1912, were a constant source of discussion in the city. The desire was to eliminate several street crossings by CP trains serving the freight sheds: Brock, Princess and Queen. CP's freight station/shed remained closer to the lake, thought its offices were consumed by fire on December 29, 1939 as shown in this Whig clipping:
The freight sheds were demolished in 1966, making way for Confederation Park in time for Canada's Centennial. Demolition is underway on July 21, 1966 (two photos below - Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds V142.3-196). The freight sheds were vacated on July 8 of that year, and the last CP yard tracks removed. The freight shed was occupied by some local teen coffee-house denizens after their Brock Street location was no longer available in the interim for a few days.
Almost gone, CN boxcars nearby. 


A 1964 aerial view (below - CP lead in green) after crossing Ontario Street on the 0.1-mile (J)oint section with CN, CP's trackage skirted the coal yards at Place d'Armes, where CP had a team track and (I)intermodal piggyback ramp. Passing through Anglin's lumber yard, Canadian Dredge & Dock, and (N)orth Street before heading farther north, parallel to CN. (Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds, V142.1-60)
A road-level view of the intermodal tracks, taken on April 7, 1967 during work on the Lasalle Causeway (Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds, V142.4-128)


Eleven acres of what was deemed swamp were filled in to provide land for the K&P yard, roundhouse and turntable along the Inner Harbour, usually referred to as being at the 'foot of North Street'. The track then crossed the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) at a diamond crossing protected by semaphore signals at River Street. 

The mixed train’s passenger cars were taken to the roundhouse upon arrival, where the baggage car was turned on the turntable and recoupled to the coach for the next day’s trip north. The steam locomotive was left at the ash pit for maintenance by the North Street roundhouse crew. 
In its hey-day, the five-stall roundhouse made running repairs to up to four steam locomotives, five coaches and up to 20 freight cars with the labour of only a few men. In 1948 for instance, locomotive foreman H.R. Davis did greasing, oiling, watering and emergency coaling. Regular coaling was done at Tichborne. Car inspector A.A. Potter supplied ice and water for coaches, filling Pintsch gas lamp tanks and tending car stoves. Joseph Harten was labourer and Thomas Roberts, employed at the Kingston roundhouse for 32 years, covered the night shift. A steam boiler kept coaches warm in the yard. CPR 459 emerges from a roundhouse stall onto the turntable on February 13, 1948 (above - Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-1-392). 

The question of when the roundhouse and turntable were installed is perplexing. It's shown on an 1892-1904 fire insurance map. A May 1, 1896 drawing showing Ordnance Land and location of the K&P roundhouse (Library and Archives Canada):
 Mel Easton's book reports the date '1917' scratched into some concrete at the site. There are several incidents from 1909 to 1913 (though none before reported in the newspapers) at the K&P roundhouse: a worker injury, weed-clearing, small fires, rabble-rousers, fishermen and more. Another report mentions the roundhouse being built and the 70-foot turntable being installed in 1912. The roundhouse and turntable are clearly shown on the May 1911 revision to the July 1908 fire insurance map, with the nearby tracks denoted as Kingston & Pembroke main line, prior to the CP lease of the line:
It's also mentioned in this April, 1910 news item, mentioning its proximity to the wharf to be used for iron ore vessel loading:
Even the Duke of Connaught once frequented the roundhouse, while in Kingston to attend a ceremony at Royal Military College. His walking route on May 31, 1912, mentioning the roundhouse, was profiled in this Weekly British Whig article published on June 3 of that year:
CP's North Street yard comprised several tracks along the Cataraqui River. The tracks are empty, with passenger cars no longer in use, in this October 26, 1964 view looking toward downtown with the roundhouse and Canadian Dredge & Dock cranes and dredges in background, with a switcher's cab just visible in front of the Shell Oil tank, and CP boxcars at right. (Below - Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds, V142.2-18)
CP’s roundhouse was demolished in 1978. The 70-foot turntable was relocated to Wakefield, QC in July, 1974. Shipped sideways in a CP 65-foot mill gondola car, a flat car was used as an idler for the overhang (below - photo from Canadian Rail, May 1976). The turntable was installed to turn CP 4-6-2 1201 (and later the 1907-built Swedish steam engine 909) on its excursions from Ottawa. 
Two Snapshot Kingston views of the CP roundhouse, turntable and yards at the foot of North Street: 1955 (one bulk tank) and 1966 (two bulk tanks):
The roundhouse was demolished in 1978. The Swamp Ward & Inner Harbour History Project has geo-located it retrospectively. Heading north from North Street, the mainline closely-paralleled the CN trackage. 


The K&P car shop, built along Montreal Street in 1878 and shown in an 1892 fire insurance map, (above) would burn on September 12, 1905 after some years of disuse. Still standing nearby is the Depot School, designed by John Power and opened in 1873. 
The CP diverged here and crossed over the CN mainline on a bridge, superseding the 'diamond' K&P crossing of the GTR that followed the current Hagerman Lane alignment, and was deemed too dangerous. The bridge was removed at the time of CN's realignment in the early 1970s. More about this in this post on my Kingston's Hanley Spur [other] blog! From here, the K&P/CP left Kingston and headed north to serve the communities on the way to Renfrew. In the fourth and final post in this series, the stations in the southernmost communities are the focus.


Just as it does today, CPR 1095 is in place near CP's former passenger station on September 14, 1966 having been rolled into place and dedicated on July 1, 1966. (Below - Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds, V142-3-244). The site was still under development - there was no show in September, despite the city sign!
My brother kindly shared this page from A Canadian History of RPOs 1853-1967  by L.F. Gillam, F.C.P.S, 1967:

A K&P advertised tender for coal in the Kingston Daily News on May 4, 1885: 

Running extra...

But what about CN? Didn't it matter, too?  You'd normally find this K&P series on my Kingston's Hanley Spur blog, but I decided to host the series here since its railway content slightly outweighed its Kingston historical content. While we're on the topic, I had the pleasure of making a presentation on both lines to the Kingston Historical Society last week. Here's the full presentation video of my PowerPoint and question period at the March 20 KHS meeting. They were great hosts!
Happy Easter to all Trackside Treasure readers! Faithful Trackside Treasure reader Terry Muirhead ventured from the Left Coast to Montreal and Niagara Falls this past week. It's nice to see someone actually riding trains, not just talking about riding trains, and in first class to boot! My photo of Terry's VIA No 60(and 50) arriving in Kingston:

and Terry's, taken while boarding VIA No 97/Amtrak No 64 at Toronto Union: