Thursday, April 02, 2015

10 Questions For Eric Gagnon

Railroad magazine used to have a regular feature highlighting an "Interesting Railfan". I thought I would run a similar series with some railfans who have agreed to participate. 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)

Eric Gagnon is brave and has agreed to be Interesting Railfan #1. I've never met Eric but we have corresponded fairly often and commented and linked to one another's blogs quite often. Eric runs the very popular Trackside Treasure blog and has published three books on VIA Rail, and is super knowledgeable about VIA Rail and many other railway topics.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm married to Karen with two children - Andrew, 25 is a paramedic, and Erika, 20 is a third-year nursing student. We live in suburban Kingston, where I hop aboard Kingston Express bus service to and from Kingston General Hospital weekdays, where I have been a medical laboratory technologist in the pathology laboratory since 1985.

2. Why do you like trains?

Genetics. And drama. As a kid, we rode CN steam fantrips and spent time trackside in Lachine, Quebec where we lived until I was five. There's nothing like the noise, rumble and drama of an approaching train that passes in a flash! We have always had HO-scale model railway layouts wherever we've lived. When I was twelve, I became a railfan in earnest. I've been compulsively taking notes ever since!

3. Where’s your favourite place to railfan?

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Hands down. (I guessed that - Ed.)
Portage la Prairie, 1984, by Eric Gagnon

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

My dream vacation of camper trek across North America, stopping trackside wherever there are scintillating sights or sites. Anytime? Portage la Prairie in the 1970s during the pre-VIA era of F-units, GMD-1s and grain boxcars!

5. What’s your favourite railway?

CN or BN.

6. What’s with your abundant alliterations?

I worship and wallow in words. And it's fun to follow frenetic, flowing phrases fast and furious. See also...Retro Railfan Reports on Trackside Treasure!

7. I've noticed your frequent “spring cleanings”. Just how much “stuff” have you accumulated?

Depends who you ask. Karen says too much. I say not enough. I once read that a man spends the first 50 years of his life accumulating 'stuff' and the last 50 years trying to dispose of 'stuff'. I believe this to be true. At the same time, I'm constantly pruning my collection to make room for a newly-acquired item or two. Or ten.
Ballast train near Portage la Prairie, MB, 1984, by Eric Gagnon

8. What’s your favourite railway ephemera?

Train orders or train consists. They tell as much or more of a story than photographs. They bring together time, place, rolling stock and/or locomotives. And they concisely reveal much about train operations in a particular era.

9. Do you have any more books in the works?

Yes. I'm currently thinking through two projects that are quite different from each other. I like creating and shipping ideas.

10. Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. Real Coke. 42g of sugar in a can! Ice cold. One per month tops.

Thank you very much, Eric! You can find Eric at his Trackside Treasure blog or on Facebook (apparently I was the one who lured him to the dark side Facebook).

More to come - see all in the series!

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