Wednesday, February 24, 2016

10 Questions for Morgan Turney

This series is modeled after the "Interesting Railfan" series in Railroad magazine from years ago. I'm asking each railfan 10 questions, some standard and some customized for the particular person. I hope you enjoy it. (See all in the series)

A pink CP Rail 'train show cap' makes
Morgan easy to spot at train shows.
Morgan Turney is the owner of North Kildonan Publications, publisher of the long-running Canadian Railway Modeller magazine and the late Railfan Canada.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm from the southern Ontario area, born in Hamilton, and grew up about 300 yards from the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway mainline along Lawrence Road, near Kinnear Yard. So the sounds, sights and smells of steam and early diesels were part of my everyday environment as a kid.

As a youngster, I was lulled to sleep at night by the distant sounds of steam whistles and diesel horns as trains made their way on both the TH&B and the CNR line further south, on their way to and from the Niagara Peninsula.

My interest in trains really began when my father took me to see a model train layout in a client's basement when I was about 8 years old. When I saw the trains running through scenic rock cuts and disappearing into tunnels, I was hooked. I've developed many other interests since then but the love of trains, both model and prototype, has always been with me.

As the owner of North Kildonan Publications in Winnipeg for over 25 years, I've published Canadian Railway Modeller magazine since 1989 and Railfan Canada magazine for three years. NKP has also had a hand in publishing a few books as well.

It's been a fascinating  career as I've watched how the publishing business, and in particular the model train and railfan industry, has evolved and changed over the years.

I am married to my wife, Carol, and have two grown children - a son living in Burlington, Ontario and a married daughter living in Australia with our two grandchildren. Some of my other interests include the classic car hobby (I own a 1974 Dodge Dart Sport) and I belong to the ManitobaMopar Association, where I was president for three years.

I am also heavily involved with the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club, having served on their executive over several years, and I am an active participant in helping build the Club's Gateway Western Railway at the WinnipegRailway Museum.

I also helped found Kildonan Short Lines, an HO scale modular railway group that models from the Manitoba Whiteshell area to the prairie region in 36 feet. Did I mention that like making bird houses in my 'spare' time?

2. What got you into photographing trains?

The first camera I can remember was a Brownie box camera that my dad owned. I'd ask him if I could take it with me to photograph trains (by bicycle) and would be met with the usual parental "NO". So I saved my allowance (50 cents in those days) and finally got a similar camera of my own.

It wasn't until I actually had a job that I was able to purchase a decent camera for its time (an Asahi Pentax). I lived in Stoney Creek then, and worked in Burlington, so I'd take the long way to and from work so I could stop at Bayview and take train pictures. Back in those days, you could wander around the Bayview area and get up on the surrounding hills and get some really nice shots.
An eastbound CN freight from London leaves CN's Dundas Subdivision at Hamilton Junction and onto the Oakville Subdivision, September, 2005, Bayview, ON
I don't own a high-end digital camera but get along nicely with a Canon SX50HS. My 'dream' camera would be a Canon EOS 70D with a range of Canon lenses.

3. Where's your favourite place to railfan?

For me, the right answer is wherever I am and have my camera with me!
But a favourite place? Like most railfans, I have so many. But I'll name only a few. Southern Ontario at Bayview (one particular point off of York Boulevard and Plains Road); in Manitoba at Rennie, Rivers, Uno, and railfanning by mountain bike at Portage la Prairie; and of course, Morant's Curve in Alberta - if you can get more than just a high rail truck going through!
Striking out at Morant's Curve, April 2006
But one favourite place? A long time ago, I happened to meet Lawrence Stuckey when I was at Grant's Cut near Rivers and that made a real impression on me. So, despite the wood ticks in summer and waiting for an eastbound in the cold of winter, Grant's Cut on CN's Rivers Subdivision is likely my favourite spot.
Grant's Cut near Rivers, Manitoba

4. If you could railfan anywhere, anytime, where and when would it be?

I sometimes imagine railfanning with a digital camera back in the mid-1970s era. When trains had cabooses and there were oh, so many trains! The place for me would be in the Hamilton area on the TH&B or at Bayview - no question.

5. How has your railfanning changed over the years?

There was a time not too long ago, when CP was double-tracked on the Keewatin Subdivision under the CN bridge near Rennie, Manitoba. On a day trip of railfanning there, you'd see as many as 20 trains. Today, if you catch 5 or 6, it's a good day.

Used to be that the VIAs were scheduled to meet three times per week in the early afternoon at the siding at Indigo - and they often did just that. Today, unless one of them is very late, they pass by in the dark.
Grant's Cut, near Rivers, Manitoba

Since the advent of larger and higher horsepower locomotives, welded rail and the introduction of DPUs, trains have become very long which obviously decreases their numbers. Over the years, I've seen rail transportation change drastically and especially so with single-commodity, 200-plus-car trains of all double stacks, oil or potash, etc.

For me, it's what you can capture in the scenery or in trackside structures that makes railfanning interesting today. It seems a bonus when I see a mixed freight come along. If I want variety, I'll railfan some of the shortlines that have sprung up here recently. A day out chasing CEMR or the Lake Line Railroad out of Selkirk can be a really enjoyable adventure.

6. How long has it been since the first issue of Canadian Railway Modeller (CRM)?

The first issue of CRM was released on May 20, 1990. Publishing CRM, and Railfan Canada magazine for three years, has been, and remains, a wonderful and fulfilling experience, not only for me, but for those who have contributed to it in one form or another over the years.

It has taken me, and many others, to heights we never would have dreamed reachable as Canadian modellers. The success of the magazine put Canadian railway modelling 'on the map' as they say. We believe it has been responsible, in many ways, for what modellers began to see coming out of the U.S. and from the Canadian marketplaces in regards to Canadian models over the years.

The realized existence through both print and now, digital mediums, has provided a viable Canadian marketplace for highly detailed and quality models from many manufacturers. And we like to think it has had a bearing on what has become Rapido Trains, Inc., Canada's own and very successful model train manufacturer.

7. How has preparation of CRM changed over the years?

I could write a novel on this question! Since the advent of digital production, the actual work involved in preparing the articles and departments, along with the advertising, hasn't changed that much other than it's all done digitally now.

Production has switched from shuffling 'paper' (which, by the way, was quicker) to click here, click there, click everywhere, etc. So it's still somewhat labour intensive in that respect and about 90 percent of its' preparation is done in front of a computer screen, unlike before.

But the trade off is in the design phase as we no longer have to have negatives and lithography work done which eliminates some of the tasks at the printing end. And preparation for the post office has become easier as CPC now offers us 'machinable' publication mail meaning addresses on subscriptions are scanned into postal walks as opposed to us having to sort them by hand. And these are only a very few of the changes I've seen over the last few years.
Sunrise view through the valley fog, Uno, MB, July 2007

8. Do you think you'll ever go digital with CRM?

By digital, I think you're referring to a digital version like we now see with some of the on-line model train magazines. The vast majority of our readers have indicated they prefer a printed magazine, one they can hold in their hands and read as magazines have always been read. And we respect that.

Personally, I, too, prefer reading a print magazine. A print magazine is tangible instead of virtual. It can simply be picked-up and read over and over as opposed to having to look for it in your 'saved' file on a computer or electronic device.

But, that doesn't mean that CRM will not go digital at some point in the future. The magazine has the capacity right now to become a basic digital on-line publication - our designer produces each issue in a .pdf format which is electronically sent to the printer.

But at this point in my life, I personally am not prepared to relearn the publishing industry from a digital delivery perspective. If, in fact, there is an individual who would care to take the magazine to the digital level, we need to talk. More on that with question 10.

9. The magazine market has changed so much in the past decade. How has CRM adapted?

As indicated in the previous question, CRM adapted to digital technology in its production as it became available. The only adaptation we haven't accessed has been in our 'delivery' system. The publishing industry is evolving as it progresses through the digital age and social media era, and we've chosen to continue with the traditional method of delivering the model railroading message to our readers. And besides, I still to this day get a feeling of accomplishment and joy as I drive the latest issue of the magazine in the back of my truck to the post office!

10. What projects do you have in the works?

We recently produced and released a DVD that contains all 116 back issues of Canadian Railway Modeller along with all 12 issues of Railfan Canada magazine as a bonus. More on that, and about Canadian Railway Modeller magazine, can be found at: While producing the DVD, we entered into discussions with our producer, Ironstone Technologies, and talked about offering the magazine as an App through Apple. Those discussions are on-going and an app is in the works.

Thanks, Morgan! You can find Morgan at North Kildonan Publications, publisher of the Canadian Railway Modeller magazine.

1 comment:

One Man Committee said...

Great profile. And what an amazing run he has had with CRM... I don't think many people would have expected this magazine to last five years given the long odds it faced at the outset, never mind nearly 30.

I still have my complete set of the first several years' worth, including #1 which I bought as a kid way back in the day at Ware House Hobbies!