Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fantastic Compilation Video

There was a railway Slide Night this past Tuesday at the University of Manitoba, organized by Mark Perry and Jeff Keddy. There were some great presentations by Mark, Jeff, Steve from the Winnipeg Streetcar 356 group, and Isaac R. I was super impressed by this compilation video from Jack Hykaway. This video could easily be on a DVD for sale - the narration is great, the video quality is excellent, and the editing is top notch. Give it a view... it's worth 17 minutes of your time.

After that, go to Jack's YouTube channel and view the full-length videos that went into this compilation! Thanks should go to Jack for allowing me to embed this.

Winnipeg's Waverley Street Underpass Approved

sigh - It was inevitable, I guess.

This CBC article says the $155 million overpass project has been approved, and Mayor Brian Bowman tweeted his approval of the approval.

Of course, the project has its own Twitter account @WaverleyUNP - whether or not that is a joke account will be revealed eventually.

We shall see if the project actually comes in on budget and on time.

UPDATE: So far it's coming in under budget!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Railfanning on the NS-NB Border, by John Morris

John Morris posted a video of his chase of CN 407 (?) as he was heading to Bathurst. John is a professional photographer at Lens Make a Picture. He caught it at Fort Lawrence (near Amherst, NS) and Dorchester, NB but missed it at Scoudouc.

Give it a view! The video is well put together, with some sound issues at some points.

I've shot at Fort Lawrence a few times - it's a good location in both directions and easily accessible from the highway. The iron bridge that used to be there has been replaced, sadly. That old bridge was quite a relic!

In my VIA 15 video from November 2004, I shot at both Fort Lawrence and Dorchester. The links are queued up to the right spot in the video for both locations. I didn't try past Dorchester as it was dark by that time!

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.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tracing the Lines

Brian Gilhuly has published a free eBook featuring Eastern Ontario railway history (with maps!). You can view it on the Arnprior and McNab/Braeside Archives site at this link (PDF):

The book features a lot of text and maps discussing the history of railways in Eastern Ontario, from the Bytown and Prescott Railway in 1854 to today's CN / CP / VIA / QGRY lines. The latter part of the book features a series of maps showing the evolution of trackage (and communities) from the beginning of railways in eastern Ontario to today. It's been updated recently to include VIA's acquisition of the CP Brockville subdivision.

Check it out!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Night Train

Hurry up, girl I hear it coming
Got a moon and a billion stars
Sound of steel and old boxcars
The thought of you is driving me insane
Come on baby, let's go listen to the night train
 - "Night Train", Jason Aldean

It's been a long time since I did any night train photography, but I did a bit Tuesday night.

0.8 seconds, f/2.8, 35mm, ISO 200, on tripod
I had just delivered my daughter to Adrenaline Adventures for some night snow tubing fun, and I headed to the nearby CN Rivers subdivision to sit and wait for some trains to roll along. I decided to wait just west of Diamond so I could include the signals in the photographs.

I set up my tripod and attached my camera to it. I used my new lens for its good light sensitivity. It took a while to get the focus set right - cameras have a hard time focusing in the dark and mine is no exception. I used my van's headlights to light up the scene a bit and that helped the focusing too.

While I was waiting there, I spotted headlights to the east. I patiently waited... and waited... and waited... but the headlights didn't seem to be getting closer. I could tell they were between highway 334 and Hall Road but I couldn't figure out why a train would stop there.

The other thing that was puzzling me was that the light was flickering sometimes, like it wasn't actually stopped.

After a good 15-20 minutes of watching this, I sighed and decided to pack up and go see what was up. I put the tripod in the back and put my cold camera in the cold camera bag, zipped up to keep the condensation off the camera, and drove down to see what was going on.

As I approached, it became clear - this wasn't a train at all. It was a "broom".
0.4 seconds, f/2.8, 55mm, ISO 200, handheld
This was CN 613-12 clearing some snow drifts. The reason why it wasn't moving forward very much was because the operator was taking a number of runs at the drift to knock the snow back away from the tracks.

The lights on this broom are very bright and the operator was turning most of them off when he wasn't running, which accounted for the flickering I saw.

I watched him take a few runs, trying some pan shots along the way, then headed back to where I was to wait for a train. Within 10 minutes I could see a set of train headlights in the distance to the east.

I fired off a few test shots and noticed the focus wasn't good, so I was manually focusing while the train approached. I got it locked in reasonably well before the train came into the frame, thankfully. It isn't perfect.

2 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, on tripod
I had the camera set for a 2 second shutter speed so I could only capture two frames with the locomotives in them.

2 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, on tripod
You'll notice the signals don't appear red because they only came on when the locomotives passed, so they were on for a fraction of a second during this exposure. In the photo below you'll see them fully on.

Notice something else in the above two photos? I'll come back to it.

After I ran to the van to scrawl the engine numbers down (IC 2726, CN 2020), I was playing with the shutter speed to see how the different speeds blurred the train.
10 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, on tripod

I pointed my van's headlights at the train and took a few shots. I noticed my shadow was being projected on the train, so I decided to take a shadow selfie.
6 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, on tripod

You can see that the focus isn't quite right... sigh

This train had a distributed braking boxcar on the end. I liked how it turned out in a long exposure photograph.
6 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, on tripod
Notice a few things:
  • The line in the sky was probably an airplane with a flashing light
  • The flashing light on the top of CN 15210 is rendered as a series of dashes
  • You can see "through" the boxcar to the far signal because it was not in the picture for the entire exposure
Now I'll come back to something. In the two photos showing the locomotives, there was a green blob in the left of the frame. I'm pretty sure I accidentally captured some aurora borealis aka the Northern Lights.

Initially I thought it was lens flare, but I reviewed a few photos I took just before the train came into view and the green is still there. Also it changes in each photo, like the northern lights do.
3.2 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, on tripod
I picked my daughter up (she had a lot of fun) and on our way back over the tracks, I spotted another CN westbound. We exited the highway and I did a grab shot of CN 2182 and 2146 from the side of the road.
0.5 seconds, f/4.5, 17mm, ISO 400, handheld
Different but still fun.

I'll leave you with a few tips for night train photography:

  • Use a tripod
  • Pick a spot to focus on and set your focus, then leave it there in manual focus
  • Use a fairly wide aperture to increase your depth of field - I was using f/4.5 when my lens was capable of f/2.8 so I got a bit more DOF.
  • Lock your ISO to what your camera can do without too much noise - for my Canon T1i I don't want to go above ISO 400
  • Experiment with shutter speed
  • Have fun!

Have you done any night train photography?

See also:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More on Winnipeg's Waverley Street Underpass

VIA's Canadian at the Waverley Street crossing
Winnipeg's planned $155 million Waverley Street underpass project hit a speed bump last week when the plan went before the Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works Committee (IRPWC) on Friday. I watched the meeting online. (read my previous post on the underpass)

The IRPWC Meeting

The meeting was chaired by Janice Lukes (my councillor, actually) and the other members of the committee are Shawn Dobson, Cindy Gilroy and Devi Sharma, all present for this meeting.

After a brief presentation on gravel roads, the main issue at hand, the underpass project, was addressed. There was one presenter.


Ken Klassen, a Certified Engineering Technologist (a research professional at Red River College), gave a lengthy but informative presentation on the underpass and raised a lot of questions about the project. He ran over time several times and finally Councillor Lukes decided to let him continue until he was done.

Mr. Klassen had questions about the city's capital project approval process. He said that capital project investments should show clear benefits, and this project has not shown those benefits, at least not in any public release of information. The city's transportation master plan

He compared the proposed $155 million cost (possibly +20%) to the Kenaston and Plessis underpass projects:

  • 2006 Kenaston underpass: $48 million, or $54 million in today's dollars
  • Current Plessis underpass project: $87 million at the moment and increasing

Both of those projects are similar to the proposed Waverley project in my opinion - Steve

Mr. Klassen said that no cost/benefit analysis has been shown. He also commented on the untendered $12.3 engineering design contract.

He also pointed out that city projects constantly going over budget undermine the public's confidence in city planning.

City Staffers

City staff were present to answer the councillors' questions. I wrote their names down quickly but I looked them up in the minutes to get their names right:

  • Ms. Watt, Senior Committee Clerk
  • Mr. McNeil, Chief Administrative Officer
  • Mr. Deane, Director of Public Works
  • Mr. Neirinck, Acting Manager of Engineering, Public Works
  • Mr. Chartier, Manager of Infrastructure Planning

I jotted down some quick points from the city staff:
  • The city uses "asset management criteria" instead of a cost/benefit analysis. There is a point system involving cost versus tax benefit.
    Funding is secured from provincial and federal governments for their portions.
  • It is "common practice" to give the detailed design contract to the preliminary design winner, and it is understood during the RFP process. I am not sure if it is explicitly stated in the RFP - Steve
The councillors had many questions about the cost/benefit analysis - the staff's response was that it is not done and not common in city planning.

Councillor Sharma asked why councillors were not being properly briefed; she argued that the March 24 2015 meeting was rushed and "not adequate". My favourite quote from her: "The process just stinks."

Chair suggested councillors can speak individually to administration officials. Coun. Sharma said this is inadequate and lacks the back and forth kind of discussion that a council meeting gives, when multiple councillors are present.

Councillor Dobson voiced a concern about the lack of updates from administration on major capital projects.

I noted that Councillor Lukes seemed very positive toward the city administration, and seemed to me to think the project is inevitable, given that funding is in place.


Finally a motion was made to forward the project to the city's Executive Policy Committee with a positive recommendation.

There were two "ayes" and two "nays" - a tie - so the motion was lost.

Immediately a motion was made to forward it with no recommendation. This passed.

The Executive Policy Committee

The city's Executive Policy Committee, a hand-picked subset of the full city council, passed the plan today after a presentation by Mr. Klassen and some discussion. I didn't watch this one.

Next Step

It goes to the full city council next week for final approval.

I still believe this project costs too much for the benefits it will deliver. The city has a lot of other projects on the go and we can't afford this.

See also:

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snowblind in Portage la Prairie

I'm snowblind, can't live without you
So fine, I just can't get away
Now I'm snowblind, snowblind, snowblind
 - Styx (video)

I felt a little snowblind yesterday when I was out railfanning. Tom Sajnovic was in town and we decided to go railfanning on Sunday, which happened to be Valentine's Day.

After getting the OK from my wife to spend the morning chasing trains, I picked Tom up at 8 AM and we headed over to the CP yards to start the morning.

The usual suspects
It was not a promising start. There was the usual array of active and stored units at the shops, with nothing special around except for a peek of blue from a unit in the second row that had no number boards. That might have been DME 6359 aka Mount Rushmore, reported stricken from the roster in January 2016.

We decided to head west to Portage la Prairie and try to catch some action there. I was a bit apprehensive of the weather - relatively mild but with lots of blowing snow - but I decided to give it a try.

We headed out toward Rosser with the intention of following CP to Marquette then continuing on to Portage. Very quickly we spotted a CP freight heading east into Makwa, just west of the Perimeter Highway. We pulled over and got the shot. CP 9717 was the sole engine on the head end.
Visibility Poor
The mid train DPU was CP 8574 - photograph by Tom Sajnovic.
Mid train by Tom Sajnovic
Tom's camera batteries died when he tried to get the approach shot, but he managed to resuscitate it to grab the mid-train DPU.

With that train in the bag, I decided not to continue along the CP as the highway was drifting pretty badly. We turned around and headed back to the Perimeter Highway to head to Headingley and the Trans-Canada Highway. After stopping at a gas station to get more batteries for Tom, we headed west.

The highway itself was OK, with some drifting snow in the passing lane but in general it was clear. The visibility was pretty bad and I don't think we reached the speed limit at all en route to Portage. We kept an eye toward the CN line to our left but we couldn't see it most of the time, so if trains were passing, we didn't see them. The weather cleared up a bit as we approached Portage.

We arrived in Portage la Prairie and headed to the area between the CN and CP tracks, just east of the stations and the Tupper Street overpass. Shortly thereafter, a CN eastbound rolled into view, with CN 2571 and CN 2008.

The train had a few of these blue NOKL Dynastack cars on them, a car I haven't seen before. The blue really stands out.

After that train passed, Tom needed to go to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick something up, so we headed over and parked in front of the store. As we were getting out of the car, Tom heard a horn... so we hopped back in and drove over the Tupper St. overpass, spotting an eastbound CN train to the west, and went to the VIA station to capture CN 5477 East.

Here's Tom capturing 5477.
Tom getting the shot
... and here's Tom's viewpoint.
CN 5477 East, by Tom Sajnovic
I was a little behind Tom and a bit closer to the tracks. Here's my view.
Wedgie shot
I think I like his viewpoint better!

Poor tired CN 5513 was the trailing unit on the train. I was surprised to find out this was the first time I'd photographed 5513. I thought I'd probably grabbed all of the extant SD60Fs but I guess not!
Worn CN 5513
After we gave that train the roll-by inspection, we headed back to Shoppers Drug Mart again. We parked in front of the store, got out... and both of us heard a horn this time.

Back in the car... back to the tracks, for the third CN eastbound train in a row, CN 8935 East with a blue IC unit trailing.
CN 8935
IC 2459 was the trailing unit, with a door open in the hood for some reason. I suppose railfans call this a "blue devil" or "blue meanie" or whatever. I don't want to refer to it by its nickname because, chances are, I'll get it "wrong". I learned my lesson when trying to refer to a "toaster". Railfans... so picky. ;)
IC 2459 in Portage la Prairie
This train had mixed freight on the head end, with containers on the rear. Maybe it was CN 198? In any case, it had one of CN's distributed braking containers, CNSU0007, in the middle of the freight cars.
Distributed Braking Container CNSU0007

After that train passed, we headed back to Shoppers for the third time and parked. This time someone was blowing snow off the sidewalks with a leaf blower, so there was no way we were going to hear any train horns! Tom bought what he needed, and as we drove back to the tracks we saw a fourth CN eastbound train rolling by. I didn't know it was parade day on CN!

After the containers finished rolling by, we went over the Tupper Street overpass and noted a green signal on CP indicating a CP eastbound was coming. We parked by the Canadian Pacific Railway Heritage Park and Interpretive Centre aka the old CP station.

Tom elected to stay on the station side of the tracks and I went over to the other side to capture the station in the shot. Here's Tom's view:
Tom's view of CP 8931
Here's my view. Railpictures.NET liked this one.
CP 8931 passes the former CP station in Portage la Prairie
It was time for me to go home, so we headed back along the Trans-Canada Highway. There was a westbound CP intermodal over at Tupper by the Viterra elevator but we had no time to catch it. We ducked into Oakville but there was no action there, so we came back out and proceeded into Winnipeg. On the way we saw the intermodal train we missed, dimly and in the distance.

I elected to come in along Wilkes and we spotted CN 8935 East again with the IC unit trailing. I overtook it before Shaftesbury and we bailed out to capture the other side of the train. I'm quite happy with this photo, showing IC 2459 with a little bit of CN red.
IC 2459 with a CN air conditioner
That was our day of railfanning between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie. Thanks to Tom for inspiring me to get out and shoot some trains!

More "railfanning with Tom":

Friday, February 12, 2016

Railfanning on Prince Edward Island?

PEI is famous for its Cows brand ice cream
Back in October 2015 I went to Summerside, PEI for work for four days. I didn't have much time for non-work activities, but I did manage to see a precious few train-related items.

Most people know that there are no* railway tracks on Prince Edward Island since CN ceased operations and the last train left on December 28, 1989.

* well, none of any appreciable length. There is some track at the Elmira Railway Museum and maybe a few lengths here and there throughout the Island.

There are still a few railway items around on the Island. There are several train stations on the island, some in private hands and some in public hands. In Summerside itself, the former CN station is the town library and is handsomely decorated with murals. I walked over to it late one evening after getting my Greco donair fix.
Former train station in Summerside, PEI
Prince Edward Island had a few grain elevators, and three are still owned by the provincially-owned PEI Grain Elevators Corporation. The largest is located outside Kensington next to the former CN right-of-way.
Kensington, PEI grain elevator
An elevator like this would not be out of place on the Prairies! It was built in 1971 and is of wood construction, unlike the other two elevators at Roseneath and Elmsdale.

Speaking of Kensington, this town houses two important railway artefacts - the only locomotive on the island, CN 1762, and the beautiful Kensington railway station. I photographed them (and the above grain elevator) en route to the airport in Charlottetown. Fortunately it was a lovely day for photographs.

CN 1762 in Kensington, PEI
CN 1762 is an RSC-14 locomotive that would not have been out of place on the Island. I'm not sure how much it operated on the island, if at all, but it ended up here.

Kensington, PEI train station
The Kensington train station is fairly unique with its New Brunswick fieldstone construction. It is a National Historic Site and currently hosts the Island Stone Pub.

That was all I had time to visit on that trip. I was pleased to be able to meet up with the talented Taylor Main and Chris Mears of the great Prince Street Terminal blog.

Other railway sites of note on PEI include:

Further reading:

Monday, February 08, 2016

Canadian Model Train Store Directory

Just a quick note to let you know that I've created a model train store directory over at

I had noticed there wasn't any good listing of all the Canadian model train stores. Both the NMRA and the CAORM had pages with Canadian stores, but they were incomplete and out of date, with many linked sites no longer existing.

This past Sunday, I went through both lists, as well as the list of stores in Canadian Railway Modeller, weeded out the sites that were no longer responding, and came up with an initial list. I then added sites that came up in Google and called it rev 0 and posted it in the excellent Canadian Railway Modellers Facebook group.

I received some additions to the list and a few deletions too, so I've incorporated all of their great suggestions and I believe the list is more or less complete now.

I will do my best to maintain it and I welcome any corrections, additions or sad notices of store closures.

I should point out that I'm only listing physical stores that people can visit. Virtual stores like Canadian Express Line are not listed. I want to encourage people to visit their local hobby store, and I want to have a listing of local stores so when people are visiting someplace new, they can find a hobby store. Already people have commented about stores that they never knew existed near them.

See the Canadian model train store directory!

Don't have a local model train store?

Look for model trains on Amazon.

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Corner Brook Railway Museum

Back in October 2015, I went to Corner Brook, Newfoundland for a short work stint. While there, I spent a bit of time at the railway museum in Corner Brook late one afternoon.

It was a pretty blustery day, and the museum was closed, but the grounds are open so I wandered around, enjoying my first second taste of narrow gauge equipment. (my first was at Exporail in Montreal)

The railway museum is located alongside Riverside Drive on the Newfoundland T'Railway, the portion of the Trans-Canada Trail that is built on the roadbed of the former Newfoundland Railway. Specifically it is on Station Road in Corner Brook, here. It is well maintained by the Railway Society of Newfoundland.

Corner Brook Railway Museum

You can see that one of the major features of the museum is steam engine 593, a Baldwin locomotive built in Philadelphia and delivered to St. John's in 1921 at a cost of $36,870. This locomotive was originally a passenger express engine and ended its long career as a yard switcher in Port aux Basques in 1957.

Newfoundland Railway Steam Engine 593
593 is at the head of a display passenger train that consists of:

  • ex CN 593, Baldwin 4-6-2, built 1921
  • ex CN 1598, Eastern Car box-baggage car, built 1954
  • ex CN 1600, Canadian Car and Foundry express car, built 1943
  • ex CN 758, Canadian Car and Foundry coach, built 1949
  • ex CN 175, Canadian Car and Foundry diner, built 1943 as a coach (lettered as "DINER 10")
  • Twillingate, National Steel Car sleeper built 1938

Twillingate sleeper in Corner Brook, NL

To be honest, I spent more time looking at the other train, the diesel-powered plow train. I am by far more interested in diesel locomotives than steam engines, which you probably know already if you are a long-time reader. Diesels FTW!

The plow train is a little shorter than the passenger train, but it has a nice variety of equipment.

Plow 3460 in Corner Brook, Newfoundland
The plow train consists of:

  • ex CN 3460, National Steel Car snowplow, built 1953
  • ex CN 931, General Motors Diesel NF210, built 1956
  • ex CN 15007, Eastern Car Company side dump car, built 1958
  • ex CN 6072, National Steel Car caboose, built 1967

CN 931 was definitely my main point of interest. It could use a little paint but it's looking pretty good.
CN 931, Corner Brook, Newfoundland
I had a peek into the cab through the windows. Maybe someday I'll be back in Corner Brook during the summer when the museum is open...

I was impressed at how well maintained the displays are. There is no graffiti and the walkways, steps and such are all in good order. Kudos to the Society for such a great job honouring the Newfoundland railway's past.

There's a museum building on site, the Rhoady J. Hickey building. Of course it was closed so I don't know what's inside. I imagine there are a number of artefacts on display.

There is a fair amount of track extending past the displayed rolling stock, coming to a switch and extending past that for a number of metres. It would be fun to run a velocipede up and down the track!

The "Newfie Bullet", the cross-island passenger train officially known as the Caribou by CN, was terminated in July 1969, a few years after the Trans-Canada Highway opened on the Island in 1965. The "bullet" was a bit of humour as the Caribou had a 23-hour schedule between Port aux Basques and St. John's, compared to the 12 hours a car could drive the same distance.

Terra Transport logo
CN took over the Newfoundland Railway after the province joined Canada in 1949. In the 1970s, CN began to rely more on trucks to haul cargo on Newfoundland, and in 1979 the Newfoundland rail operations were spun off into Terra Transport.

Terra Transport operated CN's freight operations, as well as the CN Roadcruiser bus operation and CN's trucking operation.

Newfoundland's branch lines were closed in 1984 and the railway itself was shut down in late 1988 with the last freights running through September, 1988.

Signs of the railway were evident in Corner Brook, with books and signs here and there throughout the town.

I found this switch stand beside a business in the town. The Newfoundlanders clearly take a lot of pride in their former railway. I wish I had seen it in operation but I had never been to Newfoundland before this visit.

I'll leave you with a few more images from the railway museum in Corner Brook.

Thanks for keeping the memory of the railway alive!

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