Friday, April 26, 2024

Early-era VIA in Kingston: 1976-1977 and More!

VIA's early era was an interesting time. I'd previously published a post showing early-era VIA in Thunder Bay and recently scanned some of my Dad's early-era VIA slides. First seven photos - L.C. Gagnon. On a sunny, school break March 24, 1977 we caught a couple of VIA trains. Eastbound at 1248 (top photo and below): 6527-6622-9662-Mount Royal Club-5467-2505-5634-5631-CN 15000! At the station, unlike at Amherstview six miles west where we lived, it was possible to get the whole consist while stationary. And at the time, many of the VIA-painted cars still had the small CN logo beneath the VIA one.
That's right, CN 15000 - a surprise on the tail-end was this CN track geometry car. A CN official heads for a warmer climate, inside:
Westbound at 1335: 6760-6869-9600-Saint James's Club-5536-5446-2512-5591-5508-557x-Great Slave Lake. Oh, and escaping steam. In both head-end photos, that's your humble blogger in the day-glo orange toque:
Early 1977, undated westbound with an interesting three-unit locomotive consist at Amherstview:
August 11, 1976 Turbo arriving Belleville:
Summer 1976 train between Kingston and Napanee, likely Townline Road:
December, 1976 westbound freight led by a CN RS-18 passing the Amherstview Golf Course:
While reading through some recent issues of the Kingston CRHA Kingston Rail magazine, I found a few very interesting photos taken by Hugues W. Bonin, a long-time denizen of the Kingston railfan scene and Kingston's VIA station. A prolific photographer, we all attended some early meetings of the local CRHA branch held at St. Lawrence College, as well as sharing the platform at the Kingston VIA station at times. Below are my photos of a few of Professor Bonin's images in the Kingston Rail: 

December 20, 1981 - When the Canadian graced the CN Kingston Sub, VIA No 2/44/54 with Riding Mountain Park on the tail-end meeting No 53 Eng 6769 at Kingston VIA station. Steamy and smoky:
April 11, 1982 - VIA No 65 Turbo 154 crossing the Cataraqui Creek near Counter Street, just east of the station:
October 3, 1982 - Westbound Turbo between Hillview Road and Collins Bay Road crossings. CN logo dirty but long gone, dented and patched nose, and in the last month of its long life with CN and VIA:
March 28, 1982 - VIA No 65 Turbo 151 stopped at Kingston station. The station gardens were petite then, now fully-grown and self-tending, apparently!
April 21, 1982 - CN 3634 and transfer caboose 76554 laying over at CN's Outer Station. That's Professor Bonin's yellow Duster in the background. 
Though I have a good grasp of what my Dad captured in his instamatic in this early VIA era, Professor Bonin's prolific work has sometimes been shared in Kingston Rail. I think it may be a VIAceberg though, and we may only be seeing 10% of it. 

Running extra...

Ripped from today's headlines! [Do they still have headlines?] Late-era VIA in Kingston featured a J-trained (double-double?!) VIA Siemens Venture Sets 3 and 4 on VIA train No 61 on April 22. Thanks to a heads-up from Mi 17 Kingston Sub (thanks, Lion Liu!) I found myself atop the windswept concrete tundra of the Bayridge Drive overpass to catch No 61 in this Youtube video, from which these video captures are taken (below). A first for the vast majority of the Kingston Sub, although there have been rescues that formed J-trains in the Quebec-Montreal-Ottawa lanes. Some have opined there was a fire in Set 4 around Central Station necessitating the J-train move to Toronto, with passengers aboard Set 3. Another video posted by CJ Burnell on Youtube, farther west on the Kingston Sub.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Chris Mears' Magazine One

I hovered, my pointer poised. Ready to punch 'Publish' on a photo-laden post prolifically profiling all the spotting features critical for enjoying the myriad and minute 200 differences between Canadian Pacific's 438 Dash 9's (with roster photos and closeups of each unit!) when the mail carrier left a plain brown manila envelope sticking out of the mailbox. When I saw the sender's surname in the return address block - Mears - I knew immediately what it contained.

Can you expect a Trackside Treasure post every time I get something new to read? Of course not! But this was not just something new. This was the first printed prodigious product of Prince Street blog partner Chris Mears' mind. So it does warrant its own post. Dash 9's disappeared, damned to Draft status.

One arrived in fine shape, wrapped in the vanilla file folder inside the manila envelope with the Nova Scotia postmark.
After notifying Chris of its arrival and merely slitting the envelope, I let One breathe overnight in its new home. Letting out that Nova Scotia salt air and taking in a south wind off Lake Ontario air via the still-forcing forced-air furnace. But this process would not be forced. I would devote a no-distractions time to read it thoroughly over a hot beverage. Chris' reply:
The next day, following lunch, it was time. The clean cover looked a little too clean. So first, just as the envelope was postmarked, I had to similarly mark One. So I fired up the coffee maker in a messy manner. It seemed appropriate to select the float-plane mug, the one that my Dad had bought me at the CFB Trenton air show some years ago, one of many from the Too-Damned-Many-Coffee-Mugs shelf in the kitchen. He has since lifted off and is circling above so it's time for him and me to make our mark, I thought.

Preparation of the Elements

The anointing

That blest communion twixt cup and page

Ah, that's better. Making his mark.

No covers were injured in the making of this photograph. The paper that Chris selected is of such high quality that it was really hard to make the stain stick. But if one holds it at just the right angle....

Concluding the consequential consecration, it was time to enjoy. Gathering the coffee, some still-fresh Costco fruitcake, the slip-on slippers and the comfy couch, the remote was put just out of reach, the first page turned and the paper sniff-sampled. I spent the next who-knows-how-long religiously reading every page. This is no small feat for a short-attention scanner like me. Speaking of feet, I started making notes on the envelope as I read, until I ran out of space: 

The book is buffet-style. Bring your plate and take generous helpings of prototype switching sites and observations in Nova Scotia. Modelling applications of prototypes from PEI and elsewhere. Modelling technique tries you will not see anywhere else. Readable. Bring your plate back for more. Notes on my notes:
  • no author on cover - oh here, let me take obvious credit for what I've done to get my name in print. Not here. Not needed. Let the title speak for itself.
  • always comparing - why was I reading One thinking I would have done this or that different? Go get your attitude of gratitude and use it, self.
  • just be different - how can I infer and interpret everything Chris thinks? Just enjoy the fruits of his beard-bemused labours.
  • Zinger Egg - not an Easter Egg, better. Nearly every page has a thought explosion that goes ballistic then shrieks in and embeds itself in the reader's brain. Or so it should. I photographed some (below). Now where was I...
  • ah yes - colour and illustrations. High quality presentation and content everywhere.
  • show your work - they told us in math class. Isn't getting the right answer enough? No, how did you get here from there. Chris unabashedly does this, whether the process is dirty, clean, or in many cases granular and gritty.
  • I would never think of this stuff in this manner - we all have different brains. Why does the MR press make modellers pigeon-hole their layouts and their process under tidy subtitles?
  • granular detail - the text is data-packed, with in-process photos, drawings and facts all arranged. Sometimes showing actual granules!
  • think, then do - the MR press leaves us hanging with nonsensical author quotes like, "I haven't thought about operations, even though my layout is nearly complete." Whaaaa?

Re-use comes before recycle. Note use of reading glass-defeating Sharpie...
Back to the bougy Instagramish photos. No, Instagramish is not a place in Nova Scotia.

I was running out of hands to hold the book and take these iPhone photos, too. 

Doesn't this photo just look right? Kicked-off slippers, sleeping spouse. Sounds like a haiku! Chris places as much emphasis on the room that the layout is in as he does the layout itself. Look how they blend with One another in another home environment. It's tough to see where the magazine ends and home begins:
I have to take issue with 'IN THIS ISSUE.' Trusting this will not be the last time we see these three words inside the front cover. Chris' closing writing includes the phrase 'ensures subsequent issues'. 

When the time is right, Chris. 
When the time is, write, Chris.
Time for my review. Review? 
Who cares? Why? 
What good would it do? 
It's just good to be in good company with James and Krista! In fact, James posted about One one day earlier, one day ahead of this post!

I expected Chris' pense-perfect writing style to be on display and it was. Each word, chosen. Even the typos that entered through the back d'oh! add to the text. After all, pobody's nerfect, right? (Dammit, Correct Spelling, are you a verb or a noun!) This was such a nice change from reading a mass-produced MR press product. Someone I know, topics I can identify with, modelling challenges I would never take. Inexorably iterative intent in the content.

Chris' own words: 
About the magazine. One is the magazine of Prince Street. Forty letter-size pages printed in colour on 80 lb. paper that does have a nice feel to it. The matte finish on those pages should be a nice place to draw on, and you should. It’s “perfect bound”. There are only 20 copies. I don’t currently plan to rerun content from the first issue or print additional copies.The models and sketches, words and photographs, are all mine. I have never done anything like this before and I wanted to feel as much of the process as possible. One wasn’t just about something I wanted to have but something I wanted to make.

My review is merely an exhortative call to action. Do you have thoughts? Are you a modeller and/or train enthusiast? Can you sit still without scrolling on a device in hand? My review is the following three words, then. 

I see a lot of blog posts, especially from my blog partners like Chris, and the ensuing blog comments. And he'd been assembling his aspirations as long as a year ago, so I had to take a trip back in time. A word of support got Chris commenting as above. I trust Chris Mears will have a long and rewarding career as a magazine publisher. We need Two. Three. Twenty-Eight, I don't care how high the numbers get. But I will never have the One experience ever again. 
Thank you to Chris for this gift and for his giving it.

Running extra...

No Mow May. That's what the City of Kingston is promoting to promote pollinators and propagators. I support the concept in theory, but I will not be allowing my front yard to become a hayfield. I would definitely promote No Tax May! Now that would be a happy haymaker for over-taxed taxpayers!
Sometimes you're the lawn, sometimes you're the lawnmower. I'm constantly encountering two separate groups online: 1.Propagators 2. Lawn-boys. The former prolifically post content, the latter cherry-pick the facts and point out niggling errors while staying secure down among the blades of online grass. It's tiring sometimes. Onward and skyward!
This week at Wellington and West Streets, sharing a moment with the memorial to the 21st Battalion headquartered here in Kingston. Of the 1,013 men who left Kingston by train on May 5, 1915 with the Battalion, only 103 of those originals marched into Germany as part of the occupying force at war's end.

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.