Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Grain Elevators of Canada

Raley, Alberta
I have a little announcement to make. In October I bought the domain name www.grainelevators.ca, and it's now live.


Grain elevator fans will remember this site was the site for Canadian grain elevator photos and information. Many 'vator fans had posted photos of grain elevators, old and new, and its forum was a gold mine of information. It was a fantastic resource.

Over time it became hard to maintain and the owner, Chris Attrell, shut it down and redirected it to his new site, Anywhere.ca. I completely understand his reasoning but I missed the site.

I founded my own grain elevator site, Manitoba Grain Elevators, to record the elevators I saw. There are other Canadian grain elevator sites out there - Jim Pearson's Vanishing Alberta for example - but there wasn't any comprehensive Canadian grain elevator site any more.

Coming Online

I decided that I wanted to revive the site, with the intent of publishing photos of every Canadian grain elevator that I and others had photographed. I knew I couldn't do it alone so I intended to reach out for help.

I contacted Chris and I bought the domain name. I set up WordPress and started populating the site with my own photos. I started with Alberta and Saskatchewan elevators because I already had my Manitoba elevator photos online.

Once I hit the end of my photos, I reached out in the Vanishing Sentinels Facebook group, and on Twitter, and several people have contacted me offering photos and assistance. I am very grateful for that.

Kensington, PEI


At this moment I am populating the site with Saskatchewan grain elevator photos from Adam Bouvier. I have a few other photos in the queue but I'm looking for more! Please email me at steve@traingeek.ca if you want to offer your photos to publish on the site. I want to ensure I have permission to post them so I only want photos from the original photographers... or public domain photos from before 1949.

Traffic is starting to pick up, and Google has indexed 158 pages so far. Progress!

This has been sucking up all my free time, so I haven't been writing here. I only have so much time for writing... but I'll be posting here in a few days about my recent visit to Kitchener, Ontario. I'll probably do a year-end roundup post as well.

The Future

I have a lot of work ahead of me. There are literally hundreds of elevators yet to be documented. I have about 30 more elevators to post from Adam and a few more in the queue.

I also intend to retire Manitoba Grain Elevators. There's no sense in having two grain elevator sites! I've moved a few elevators over to the new site and redirected the original page - for example, Elkhorn - but there are many left to move. This is pretty low on my priority list as those elevators are already online for reference.

Please visit Grain Elevators of Canada and have a look around!

P.S. speaking of grain elevators, did you know Eric Gagnon is writing a new book, on trains and grain elevators, two of my favourite things to photograph? It's nerdvana over here, I tell ya. Go follow his new blog to learn more, at https://trainsandgrains.blogspot.ca/.

P.P.S. also speaking of grain elevators, I have a 2018 Manitoba Grain Elevator calendar for sale...

Monday, December 04, 2017

The 2017 CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific Railway has run the Holiday Train since 1999, crossing Canada from east to west. The train collects funds and food for local food banks, and puts on a good show too!

In the past I've photographed it in Winnipeg - at night - but this year I decided to see it on Sunday as it traveled from Winnipeg to Portage la Prairie for the show there.

According to the schedule, it was due to arrive in Portage la Prairie at 12:15 and the show would go from 12:30 to 1:00 PM.

My intention was to leave my house around 10 AM, railfan CN toward Portage, then cut over to CP around Poplar Point and catch the train coming in, then go see the train in Portage. I had to be back in Winnipeg shortly after 2 PM so I couldn't linger past 1 PM in Portage.

Why railfan CN instead of CP? Easy.. more trains. I wasn't expecting CP to run any trains around the time the Holiday Train was running, so I thought CN would be the better choice.

I did railfan along the CN Rivers subdivision and it was quite productive, but I'll leave that for another post. I arrived at High Bluff and drove around, looking for a decent spot to photograph the train.

I wanted a spot where I could see the whole train, but I didn't want just open prairie.

I found this barn and decided it needed to be in the photo.

Now.. the waiting game.

This year, CP posted a Holiday Train tracker web site where you can see its position in real time. SO. HANDY.

I was able to determine where the train was, so I didn't have to stand outside my car the whole time waiting for the train.

It was about 11:25 when I took the above photo of the barn. According to the tracker, the train was in Rosser, having just left Winnipeg. I was a little concerned because I couldn't see how the train could make the 50-odd miles remaining between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie in 50 minutes to be on time.

While I was waiting, and checking the app, two CP freight trains came by. Again, I'll write about them with the other trains I saw that day.

Finally, the Holiday Train passed at 12:10.

That's the shot I wanted.

I took a little video here with my iPhone:

I hopped in the car and carried on toward Portage la Prairie. The train wasn't going terribly fast so I was able to jump out a kilometre or two later to get this photo.

I wanted to get them at Tucker passing the Viterra grain elevator there. I was easily able to beat them there, and one of the two CP freights I had seen was crawling along on the south track.

There was someone already there with a video camera waiting for the train, and somebody else pulled up in a truck to capture the event. I waited for CP 2249 to pass the freight and took a few photos. I liked this one the best:

Here's a bit of a wider view showing the grain elevator as well.

The Holiday Train stopped at the yard entrance to line a switch - I think - and I drove down between the CN and CP lines to capture the train arriving. Here it is with the large crowd waving to the train.

It came to a stop at 12:46 - 36 minutes late - so I didn't have a lot of time to photograph it before I had to leave. I saw Trainboy Productions there and chatted with him for a few minutes - I'll add his video to this post when he posts it.

Here's a whole-train view in Portage la Prairie. As Eric Gagnon said on Facebook, the view is unobstructed by grain elevators (that used to be here). I would have been fine finding shots around grain elevators. ;)

They were on a stub track - maybe the yard lead?

It was 1 PM so I had to go. I didn't see the show but I understand Colin James and Emma-Lee were great.

That was the 2017 CP Holiday Train for me.

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