Sunday, June 18, 2017

Limiting Beliefs

I listen to a lot of podcasts. One that I really like is Chamira Young's Pro Photographer Journey. She writes honestly about the business side of being a professional photographer and I learn a lot from her own explorations and interviews.

A recent recap episode she published, The Most Common Limiting Beliefs and Mindset Challenges that Photographers Face (whew! long title!), talked about the beliefs that may limit your potential for growth.

She talked about five limiting beliefs that I list below:

  1. I don't deserve success.
  2. I have to price my photography as cheaply as possible to compete.
  3. I'm not as good as other photographers.
  4. Professional photography is a dying industry.
  5. It's too hard to please everybody.
I want to talk about #3 and #5 in particular.

I'm Not As Good As Other Photographers

As I always say to my kids, there's always somebody out there who is better at something than you are, and you are better at some things than a lot of other people.

It's easy to pick up a magazine or look on Facebook or Instagram to see some amazing photography and think, "man, I will never be that good."

That may be TRUE.

Don't let it limit you.

Keep in mind that the photographers you admire and feel are better than you have put in a ton of time and effort to hone their craft. They've taken training, they've learned from mentors, and they have put in the hard work to discover locations and techniques that help them to take great photos.

You can take great photos too.. if you want to, and you're willing to put the work in.

I remember when I first started taking train photos, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was terrible. It took me years before I started taking it seriously enough to study WHY I was bad at train photography, to learn from great photographers, study, and experiment.

I think I'm a much better photographer now. I also know there are others who are better than me.

That's OK.

I can keep learning and improving. There's no limit.

It's Too Hard to Please Everybody

I do like to please everybody. I'm greatly troubled when someone is mad at something I did or wrote. I always preferred to avoid conflict... which is a whole other blog post. Or two.

But here's the thing. There's an very old saying, "if you try to please everyone, you please no one" (maybe from Aesop?). That's good but I like this one better:

If you're trying to please everyone, then you're not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don't think, in the long run. - Viggo Mortensen
If Aragorn said it, it must be true.

You have to have your own voice. You have to be authentic and take photos and share stories the way you want to.

If there are people out there who don't like your style, or your photos, or your words? Too bad. Ignore them. There are plenty of people who will like what you make.

I recognize that a lot of people don't care for trains think of trains at all and that's OK. They probably won't come to my blog. They won't like my photos.

I'm not going to write about things I don't care about to try to capture a larger audience. It won't be good and I won't be happy with it.

So don't limit yourself by trying to please everybody. Produce good work, promote it, and you will get recognized for it. Maybe not today.. maybe not for a year.. but it will come.

The Sky's The Limit

More than ever, if you're willing to put the work in, there's no limit on what you can accomplish... in photography or elsewhere. Don't let the above limiting beliefs hold you back. Do good work.

See Also

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Anker PowerCore Portable Battery

The Anker PowerCore battery
My wife and I were recently in Italy for vacation and we took a lot of photos. I took well over 3,000 photos with my Canon DSLR (and a few with my iPhone) and my wife took about 1,500 photos with her iPhone. One thing that really helped her (and I) was a portable battery to keep her phone charged, and we used the Anker PowerCore 20,000 mAh portable charger for that.

The need for this really came to light a few years ago when we were in London. We had just walked across the Tower Bridge in the rain, and were walking along the Thames River. We looked back and saw a double rainbow over the Tower Bridge. I hauled out my SLR and started taking photos, and my wife took maybe two photos and then her phone's battery died. No more!

When we returned to Canada, we bought a cigarette-pack sized battery which did a decent job but didn't really hold enough of a charge for vacationing.

Enter the Anker PowerCore 20,000 mAh charger. This beefy portable battery can charge an iPhone numerous times, and even completely recharge a dead iPad 2. It has a lot of juice.

Two USB ports and a charge port
The PowerCore has two USB ports on it so it can simultaneously charge two devices. We haven't really used this feature but it is there. You plug your device's USB cable into it and plug the other end into your phone or tablet, and off it goes.

The one button
Note: you do have to press a button on the Anker to turn it on. If you don't do this, it won't charge your device. Once you do this, the Anker will stay on until the device is fully charged.

The PowerCore is pretty plain to look at - a heavy black pack with three ports on one end (two USB and a micro USB for charging the Anker), a single button on the side, and LED indicator lights to show how much charge the Anker has in it. Pressing the button lights the LED, with 1-4 lights indicating the relative charge in the Anker. The LEDs also stay on while charging.

The PowerCore comes in a classy box with a travel bag, a micro USB cable, and a manual. You have to supply the appropriate USB cables to connect your devices, and your own USB wall charger to charge the PowerCore.

Almost empty!
Note that it takes a long time to recharge the PowerCore. Overnight might be enough to top it up but it might take 24 hours to fully recharge an empty PowerCore. It takes a long time to run one of these down but it takes a long time to fill them back up! Use a good USB wall charger that puts out at least 2A; the cheap 0.5A USB devices will take forever to charge this battery. You could use an Anker PowerPort 4 (40W) to charge it.

The 20,000 mAh version is heavy - 354g or almost 0.8 pounds - and long. It's a little big to fit in a pocket of your pants without getting in the way. I keep it in a pocket of my camera bag and it's fine there.

If that's too big for you, get the 10,000 mAh version at half the weight and smaller than a deck of cards. It only has one USB port but otherwise it's the same... just with half the capacity.

I highly recommend this portable battery. You need to keep your devices charged and Anker is a premiere brand in the portable charger space.

We used this extensively on our recent trip to Italy. My wife often had it in her pocket, keeping her iPhone at 100% charge. If she didn't have pockets, I put it in a pouch in my camera bag and we brought it out at meals to give our devices a boost. We never ran out of power.

In Canada this usually lives in our van where it can charge one of our phones while the others' phone is plugged into the van's power outlet. It gets a lot of use.

Buy Anker PowerCore 20,000 mAh battery: Canada or USA
Buy Anker PowerCore 10,000 mAh battery: Canada or USA

PS - Italy was awesome. I promise, photos are coming.
Me on top of the Duomo in Florence, Italy
This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission when you purchase something after clicking the link, at no additional cost to you.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Rail Line to Churchill Severed

On May 30, rail service to Churchill, Manitoba was suspended - perhaps for months, if not indefinitely.

Hudson Bay Railway map
Affected area shown in red
The last freight train arrived on May 23 but nothing has come since, due to unprecedented flooding in the area. The Churchill River was flowing at just over 1,400 cubic metres/second at the end of June, versus about 600 cubic metres/second in April. Major blizzards in March didn't help the situation.

The owner of the railway between The Pas and Churchill, OmniTRAX, issued a statement on May 30 that the Hudson Bay Railway would not be operating between Gillam and Churchill due to "track and bridge damage.. caused by the spring thaw." This is the Herchmer subdivision.

On June 9 (Friday) OmniTRAX issued an update that said that "unprecedented and catastrophic" damage has occurred and the rail line is "not expected to resume operations before the winter season." The track bed is damaged in 19 locations and 5 bridges are known to be damaged, with an additional 30 bridges and 600 culverts to be inspected in the coming weeks to determine how much more damage has been caused. (CBC News) No doubt it will cost millions of dollars to repair.

What Now?

Hudson Bay Railway locomotive
in Winnipeg, Dec 2011
OmniTRAX has declared force majeure, which is a legal term that basically means they are unable to fulfill their common carrier duties due to circumstances beyond their control.

This is terrible news for Churchill and for communities north of Gillam. The rail line is the sole connection for many of them, since the only transportation into Churchill is by rail or by air.

Calm Air (a northern airline) and Gardewine (a regional ground transport company) have teamed up to provide some air-based freight service from Thompson, but this is very expensive in comparison to rail freight and will result in severe hardship for businesses and individuals in Churchill.

This also basically kills the tourist season for Churchill, as the majority of tourists come by rail using VIA 693 from Winnipeg. Businesses are already issuing layoff notices and no doubt more will be coming.

VIA Rail

Speaking of VIA Rail, there is a VIA Rail train stranded in Churchill, with VIA 6434 and "Canada 150" wrapped VIA 6402 parked at the station.
VIA 6434 and 6402 stranded in Churchill. Photos by Patricia Sinclair, used with permission.
VIA issued a travel advisory on June 6 that they will only be operating between Winnipeg and Gillam. Looking at their reservation system you can book a trip to Gillam as usual, but it fails when you try to book to Churchill.

I see there is a wye in Gillam so they should be able to turn VIA 693 on the wye and become VIA 692, rather than backing up.

For Sale?

This will obviously have an effect on OmniTRAX's attempts to sell the line. You may recall they were talking with a First Nations consortium, since named the Missinippi Rail Consortium, and in December OmniTRAX signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them.

On May 31 OmniTRAX and Missinippi signed a deal for $20 million. I imagine (hope) there are some contingencies because I doubt Missinippi wants to inherit this mess.

There is a rival group, One North, that was also vying to purchase the line.

Hope for the Best

Hopefully the engineering assessment underway now will find that the damage is not as bad as first imagined. It will be terrible if the line will not open until the winter, and I can't imagine that OmniTRAX is willing or able to shoulder the entire cost of the repairs, given the marginal economic value of the line as it is.

The people of Churchill and communities along the line between Gillam and Churchill will be enduring significant hardship while this line is out of service. I really feel for them.

More to come.

Friday, June 09, 2017

I Say It's All Right

Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo doo)
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right - George Harrison

Last night, my wife and I returned from a trip to Italy. I'll write about that later. Given the 7 hour time difference between there and Manitoba, our biological clocks were and are a little "off". I woke up at about 4 AM this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. After messing around on the computer for a bit, I realized that the sun was going to come up so I might as well go take some sunrise photos.

I decided to head for the CN Rivers subdivision for the best chance to catch a train before I had to return to get the kids ready for school. As I drove around the Perimeter Highway I saw a beautiful golden sky as sunrise approached.

CN Delivers the Goods

I reached the CN tracks and headed west to get into the wide open spaces. I spotted headlights in the distance immediately, so I parked and walked across the tracks at a private crossing to get on the sun side of the train.

CN 5473 East at first light
I had to fiddle with my camera settings to get a decently lit photo, given the low light available. The above was at 1/80s, f/5.6, ISO 200.

I think I like the "going away" shot better, to be honest.
CN 2550 and 5473 at first light
With a shutter speed of 1/80s a little blur is inevitable, so they aren't as sharp as I would like, but I can't complain.

After the power passed, I took a number of photos of the mixed freight train. I like these photos better than the locomotives! What do you think?
Sunrise train
There were a substantial number of these hoppers (many SCYX reporting marks but also some PMRX, TILX and CEFX) on the rear of the train. I imagine they are for frac sand but I could be wrong.
Hoppers by morning light
After the comparatively short Italian freight trains I saw last week, this was a return to my normal railfanning!
The end of the train
Once the train passed, I took a few more photos of the sunrise then headed west to see if another train was in the offing.
Sunrise through the weeds
Alas, there were no more trains imminent, but I did take the time to photograph the old searchlight signals at mile 17.9.

These signals are on borrowed time as no doubt they will be replaced by LEDs at some point.

With the advent of Positive Train Control, many signals are being replaced. I was reading recently that the last semaphores in main line service were due to be removed, and I know much if not all of the CN Redditt subdivision has LED signals now.

There are good reasons to replace these signals, but if you are interested in railway history at all, get out and photograph what's there now before it's gone.

CEMR Surprise

On my way back home, I noticed that the Central Manitoba Railway (CEMR) had a train parked just south of Oak Bluff, so I went to photograph that.
CEMR 5396 and 4000 near Oak Bluff
They were not running, so perhaps they had done some work on the Carman subdivision and were parked there overnight to resume work in the morning.

I've photographed 5396 many times but I couldn't miss the opportunity to photograph her with that sweet morning light.
CEMR 5396 and derail
Note the portable derail, set to protect against runaways. A good safety practice!

That was it for my sunrise railfanning. I went home, got the kids to school, then went back to bed. I took today off to recover so it's been nice to spend time at home on a Friday with my wife. Even after being together on our trip for almost two weeks, we aren't sick of each other! That's a good sign.

See Also

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hit and Miss in Kamloops

I was in Kamloops, British Columbia and had a very "hit and miss" evening on May 1. Let's go.


Aerial view of Alyth yard in Calgary, Alberta
I flew from Winnipeg (YWG) to Kamloops (YKA) via Calgary (YYC). Normally I book an aisle seat in airplanes, so I can lean into the aisle and not feel trapped against the wall by my seatmate. This time I decided to flip things around and take a window seat on both flights. I'm glad I did! It was a lovely clear morning and I was able to snap a few photos of CP's Alyth yard as we were on final approach to the Calgary airport.

I've been to Alyth on the ground several times but I appreciated the aerial view to get a better sense of the places that non-railway people like me cannot see. For instance, I had no idea there was a large - car repair? - area jutting out of the yard.

I was also struck by how empty the yard is. I understand that one of the many changes made in CP in the past several years is that a lot of switching that used to be done at Alyth is being done elsewhere instead. I know that a full yard means cars not moving, but you expect a certain number of cars in a yard as an indication of a healthy volume of traffic. I don't see that here.

Anyway, I also took some photos of the mountains between Calgary and Kamloops.
The Rockies?
You can see from the prop in the upper right of the photo that I was sitting in front of the wing.

My flights were uneventful - thank you - and we landed in Kamloops on time at 9 AM. After collecting my rental car, I headed to my workplace and spent the day there.


After work, I drove out to Tranquille to try to catch a few CN trains there. I've been there before and I had a great afternoon there once.

On my way out, along the aptly named Tranquille Road, I was surprised by the eastbound Rocky Mountaineer rolling into Kamloops. Oops! Probably should have checked their schedule to know when they were running...

A quick U turn and I was in pursuit. The road has an 80 km/hr speed limit and I was slowly gaining on the train as we both approached Kamloops. I knew that soon the road would diverge and I would not be able to keep up, so I got a bit ahead and bailed out to grab a quick photo.
Rocky Mountaineer 8011 and 8016
It's really not the angle or location that I would have wanted... but it was the best I could get.

I snapped a few photos of the train as it rolled past, and bid it adieu.
Rocky Mountaineer cars
So, it was a miss, but not by that much. At least I did photograph it.

On to Tranquille.


As I approached Tranquille proper, I saw a westbound CN train receding in the distance. Clearly a miss and no opportunity to chase on the north side of the Thompson River, as there is no road past Tranquille.

I settled in to wait for the next train... eastbound or westbound.


After about 25 minutes, I heard a train horn. Great!

But... it seemed distant. Too distant.

It turns out it was CP on the other side of the river..
CP from far away
It was a westbound potash train, led by the two Pacifics, Canadian and Union. They came to a stop, clearly for a meet.

The light was all wrong to photograph them from the north but I did what I could. They were about 2.5 km away so it was a bit of a reach to photograph them!

It wasn't long before the eastbound train came along for the meet. The eastbound was a general freight with a couple of CP units on the head end.
Distant Meet
As soon as the eastbound train passed, the potash train started moving and soon they were gone. I took a video, and you can see it at the end of this post.

Hit - Finally

It was 6 PM when the CP train disappeared from my view. I paced around, waiting for some sweet CN action. My stomach was getting a bit grumbly but it would have to wait.

The sun started playing peek-a-boo with clouds, and finally disappeared behind a big cloud bank. I wasn't impressed, but what are you going to do?

After 40 minutes of waiting, a CN train presented itself.
CN 2926 at Tranquille
I was definitely wishing the sun was out!

I was still set up for video, but I had neglected to change the batteries in my Canon S3 and it refused to start up... so no video of this train. Miss.

Given the low light, a pan shot was in order. 1/50s at f/8.0.
Panning CN 2926
The mid-train unit was CN 3104.
She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes
Might as well pan that one too!
CN 3104
I waited a while longer, but nothing seemed to be coming. I was a little disappointed with the sun but again, what can you do?

A Surprise Hit

I packed up and started driving back toward Kamloops. I noticed a headlight in the distance, from another CN train snaking its way along the hills, so I quickly returned to Tranquille to grab a video of CN 5708 and 2298 rolling westward with my iPhone. It's at the end of this post.

I didn't take any stills because I didn't want to juggle my camera and iPhone. Trying to do both at once is often a recipe for disaster!

Visiting Cando

I posted back in January 2016 that Cando Rail Services were building a facility outside Kamloops. This facility will do rail car storage and transloads. I decided to see how it was coming along... and it looks almost ready for service!
Cando bumpers in Kamloops
Literally miles of track at the Cando facility in Kamloops

Absolutely! All photos taken from the "good" side of the fence

A Big Miss

As I was driving back along Mission Flats road, I saw a CP train rolling west. I took a brief video (see below) of CP 9622, CP 8744 and CP 9739 as they came to a stop short of the crossing. "Huh," thought I, and turned my camera off and got back into my car. As I drove away, I saw a second CP train pass them with a UP unit... so I recorded the "boring" train and missed the good one. Miss.

The Video

Here's the video of three trains in or near Kamloops, BC.

There are three trains in this video, the CP potash train, a CN general freight train and CP 9622 and company.

Lessons Learned

I can take away a few lessons from this day:

  • Charge your dang batteries. I am usually very good at this for my DSLR but not as diligent for my AA batteries.
  • Look for a second train. Often one train is followed by another so if you have the time, wait a few minutes to see if a second one shows up.

See Also

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fallen Flags Train

CP 6251 heading south
This is a quickie post about a CP train that had a lot of "fallen flags" cars on it.

What's a Fallen Flag?

North Western - Employee Owned
For railfans, a "fallen flag" is a railway that doesn't exist as that entity any more. It might be a railway that went bankrupt, or one that was absorbed into another through a merger or acquisition. There are many, many examples in history but here are three.
  • Rock Island (the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific) - went bankrupt
  • Milwaukee Road (the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific) - went bankrupt, part went to the Soo
  • Chicago and Northwestern - purchased by Union Pacific
All of these fallen flags were represented on this train.


I was driving south of Winnipeg on highway 59 to get my tent trailer for the camping season. I store it for the winter on a farm near Otterburne, Manitoba. On my way down, I stopped in at Niverville to look at the ex Manitoba Pool grain elevator and see if any trains were in the vicinity. Niverville is on the CP Emerson subdivision that runs north-south between Winnipeg and the US border at Emerson, MB. There were no trains but I took a few (more) photos of the Artel grain elevator and continued south.
Merchants Merchants Merchants! Amirite?
I drove past the farm and carried on into Otterburne to get trackside. I saw no trains to the north or south, but I did see an interesting collapsed building so I pulled over to photograph it. As I stepped out of my van I heard a train horn in the distance.

I sprinted over to the nearest crossing to capture CP 6251 South. It had just the one unit with a friendly conductor giving me a wave.

The Fallen

Following them were a series of rusty old cars - some festooned with graffiti (ugh) but most mostly untouched. Maybe they were too rusty for people to tag? Here are some samples.

AOKX 181509 is a former Northwestern car
NAHX 23662 is obviously a former Milwaukee Road
Quite the patch job on the car data on that Milwaukee Road car.

GCCX 173851 was another Northwestern car

FURX 815414 is a former Rock Island car
"The Rock" was my favourite car, and it brought up the rear.

Other Interesting Cars

There were a few other cars of interest to me on this train.
FURX 818730 was a Cook Industries Inc. car
I'm not sure who Cook Industries is/was... Google brings up a lot of things but none of them look like they owned rail cars.

GROX 60664 is lettered for UNION EQUITY
I've seen Union Equity before, at the Paterson grain elevator in Binscarth, Manitoba.

PTLX 14823 is labelled for Continental Grain
Continental Grain continues to be a very large company, one of the 300 largest privately-held companies in the US.

USLX 8032 is a mystery...
This one looks interesting but I can't quite determine the former owner of this car. Any ideas?

This is a former Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern Railway car... I photographed brother USLX 8034 in Grande Pointe, MB not too far from here on April 28, 2016.


This train was interesting to me because of all of the varied cars in the train. It was a nice change from graffiti-festooned boxcars and autoracks, or solid blocks of towering containers. Sadly these trains won't last that long as many of these cars were built in the early 1970s and will be coming to the end of their mandated 50 year lifespan soon. Shoot them while you can!

Paired multimarks in Niverville

Oh, and that collapsed building I stopped for? Here it is.

I think it might be done.

Here's my trailer, attached to my van and being inspected by one of the farm's dogs.
"OK the PK. Woof."

See Also

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Double Wrapped Math! 2 X 150 = VIA 1

Two Canada 150 wrapped locomotives on VIA 1
The railfan news network was alive with the news that VIA's Canadian leaving Toronto on May 11 (through Winnipeg on May 13) had two "Canada 150" wrapped locomotives on the head end. This was the first time two wrapped F40PH-2 locomotives were on the Canadian, and perhaps the first time two operated together at all.

You may remember that VIA 6454 was the first "Canada 150" wrapped locomotive to visit Winnipeg. The second was VIA 6437 on May 4th and VIA 6416 on May 11th. I was out of town on both of those days so I didn't have an opportunity to see them.

A bonus was that this VIA 1 was also carrying a Rocky Mountaineer car west to home base in Kamloops, BC. These cars get refurbished now and then and I have seen them pass through on VIA 1 before.

What's a "Wrap"?

A quick aside to define what railfans mean by a "wrapped" locomotive or car. Locomotives and rail cars are painted initially. They can be repainted with a new scheme, or in VIA Rail's case they are usually covered with a vinyl "wrap" instead. Think of it like a giant decal. As a commenter on one of my previous Canada 150 posts said,
"They're a lot of work. First a crew comes in to clean the cars. Then a crew does body work and then we jump on them for the wrap. It takes 4 highly experienced 3M installers most of the day to complete one. We also did the Glen Fraser car and another biz class car with similar graphics. VIA then inspects them thoroughly."
Theoretically the wrap can be removed after the promotion is over, but in reality the locomotive or rail car normally needs to be repainted.

The Setup

I knew the Winnipeg railfans would cover it well within the city, so I decided to head east of the city and catch it somewhere on the CN Redditt subdivision. Before I went to bed on Friday night (May 12), I checked VIA's train tracker site and they said it was running a little over 2 hours late. Even better!

May 13... Saturday morning dawned... cloudy. Does a day really dawn if it is cloudy? Let me know!

Anyway... I woke up at 6:30 AM, and after a quick shower and breakfast, I hit the road for points east. I passed through Dugald and saw a few maintenance vehicles in the grain elevator siding there, and carried on to Anola. The siding in Anola was full of rail maintenance vehicles and there were a few pickup trucks around as well. Clearly some maintenance was planned for the day!

Subset of CN Redditt subdivision
I had originally planned to go all the way to Elma (mile 196.8) to catch VIA, but after checking VIA's web site again I decided to stop short, as the last thing I wanted to do was to get behind the train and miss it.

I drove into a few crossings east of Anola but none of them had great sight lines. I wanted a good side shot of the train so I had to have a wide view. I eventually decided on the small community of Vivian, mile 221.3 of the Redditt subdivision. I had been there before as it has a hotbox detector and Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD) that I photographed for my article in the Trackside Photographer.

I parked on Park Street (heh) and walked around to find the best angle. I arrived at around 08:20 and nothing happened for half an hour. I had my scanner with me but nothing was going on.

I tried setting up my Canon S3 as a video camera but the batteries were dead. So I put my phone on the tripod... a little jury-rigged...

Eventually I noticed that a signal was lit.... and saw a headlight to the west! That can't be VIA...

CN 112

I wasn't really set up for an eastbound train but I did my best to capture CN 112.
CN 112 through Vivian, Manitoba
CN 8805 was on the head end and CN 2968 was on the tail end.
CN 2968 on the tail end
Odd how CN 2968 was facing forward... and what a rusty container!

They called VIA 1 to find out where they were. It turned out that the Canadian was not far away, in the siding in Nourse at mile 217.3, 5 miles east of me. They came in loud and clear on the scanner.

13 minutes after CN 112 left, VIA 1 arrived.

The Canadian in Vivian

VIA 6402 led the way as the Canadian rolled through Vivian.
"Canada 150" VIA 6402 and VIA 6436 through Vivian, MB
Here's a side shot of the two. The "Canada 150" wraps have 3 cities on each side of the locomotive. There are some cities repeated among locomotives, as you will see, but each side lists different cities. VIA 6402 has Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal on the engineer's side and VIA 6436 has Vancouver, Ottawa and Moncton. Canada's capital city was well represented!

A full look at VIA 6436:
VIA 6436 in Vivian, MB
VIA 6441 was the third unit - three units on the Canadian is unusual - and the first car after 6441 was a Rocky Mountaineer car, RMRX 9525.
Rocky Mountaineer #9525
It was, of course, empty.

You may recall that when VIA has carried the Rocky Mountaineer cars in the past, they had to put the car between the two locomotives due to the cabling used. I'm told there is new cabling so that VIA Rail can marshal the Rocky car(s) behind the locomotives and just pass the Head End Power (HEP) cabling through. It looks nicer too!

The going-away shot was not that impressive but I was there for the head end, not the tail!
Kootenay Park on the tail end of the VIA Rail Canadian
Here's the video of VIA 1 through Vivian with the two "Canada 150" locomotives. When you watch the video, note the two Skyline dome cars together.

Here's the complete consist:

  • VIA 6402
  • VIA 6436
  • VIA 6441
  • RMRX 9525
  • VIA 8609
  • VIA 8106
  • VIA 8143
  • VIA 8503
  • VIA 8517
  • VIA 8413 Louise
  • VIA 8308 Bliss Manor
  • VIA 8341 Thompson Manor
  • VIA 8313 Cabot Manor
  • VIA 8301 Abbot Manor
  • VIA 8339 Sherwood Manor
  • VIA 8316 Christie Manor
  • VIA 8324 Dunsmuir Manor
  • VIA 8327 Fraser Manor
  • VIA 8224 Chateau Roberval
  • VIA 8228 Chateau Vercheres
  • VIA 8208 Chateau Dollier
  • VIA 8212 Chateau Latour
  • VIA 8219 Chateau Montcalm
  • VIA 8509
  • VIA 8414 Palliser
  • VIA 8206 Chateau Denonville
  • VIA 8227 Chateau Varennes
  • VIA 8708 Kootenay Park

I've highlighted the Skyline domes and the two diner cars. Now if you were a poor soul in Dunsmuir Manor, you had to walk forward through six sleeping cars to get to diner Louise or back through six to get to Skyline 8509 and through that to get to diner Palliser. Talk about a long stroll to get a bite to eat!

I think it might have been better to stick one of the domes between the Manor and Chateau cars, but maybe there were good reasons to marshal the train as it was.

After VIA rolled through, I tossed everything in the van and took off west in chase.

A Quick Grab

Surprisingly, I overtook VIA very quickly. I had not expected to overtake it at all, really, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Since I overtook it well before Anola, I turned up a side road and quickly parked to grab the power rolling through.
Side on view of "Canada 150" locomotives near Anola, Manitoba
After shooting those, the chase was on again.

I zoomed through Anola - slowing down to 60 km/hr, grrr - and carried on toward Dugald. I was well ahead of them by this point so I decided to shoot them at the grain elevator in Dugald.

VIA 1 in Dugald

I wanted to get the other side of the train to get the other six cities. Since it was cloudy, light direction was not a concern! I parked by the baseball field and rushed over toward the track to grab the shot.
VIA 1, the "Canadian", through Dugald, Manitoba
There was no time to set up for video so I just dropped the tripod and shot some stills.

VIA 6402 in Dugald
VIA 6402 had Moncton, Saskatoon and Kitchener on the conductor's side, while VIA 6436 had Guelph, Winnipeg and Montreal on the left. Note that Winnipeg is on both engines, just on different sides.

VIA 6436 in Dugald
The going away shot was a little better here.
Kootenay Park in Dugald, Manitoba
(I like how Chrome wants to correct "Kootenay" to "Hootenanny")


At that point I gave up the chase, as I didn't think I would catch them again. I would have had to crawl along at 60 km/hr and risk getting stuck behind traffic, and they had a clear shot to Transcona and beyond and there was no way I would catch them again before they parked at the station downtown.

Instead I elected to go east outside Dugald and wait for the promised 4 westbound CN freights. That's for another post...

From Others

Jack Hykaway was near Nourse just east of me and recorded VIA 1 coming through.

He also included VIA 6416 (from a week ago) in the video. Thanks, Jack!

Ken Storey photographed the 12-hour late VIA 1 through part of BC. He has several photos in his excellent VIA Flickr album but to me this was the shot of the day.
Red Rock

You'll note that the locomotives are different from when I saw the train. VIA 6402 was dropped at Saskatoon, I believe, and 6441 came off at Jasper and was replaced by 6453. It's too bad the wrapped unit wasn't leading. The odd thing was that the Rocky Mountaineer car wasn't dropped at Kamloops but instead went all the way to Vancouver.

Further Reading