Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Canada 150 Train Comes to Winnipeg

CP 1401 in Winnipeg
The Canadian Pacific "Canada 150" train came to Winnipeg - and what a gorgeous train it was!

You may recall I was planning the shoot a while ago. The train was scheduled to be on display in Winnipeg on August 4th from 5 PM to 8 PM at the Southdale Community Centre in Winnipeg, on the CP Emerson subdivision.

I listed five opportunities to shoot the train. After negotiations with my wife, I was able to capture it at the community centre (and departing), and in the morning of August 5th as it left Winnipeg.

The Train at Southdale

Canada 150 train on display at Southdale
Honestly, CP couldn't have picked a better spot to showcase this train. The four units and part of the train were easily visible from the west, well lit by the setting sun, and easily accessible from any direction. Thank you, CP!

I arrived on site shortly after 6 PM. The show had already started but I bypassed that at the start to get some photos of the train while the light was still good. The sun was out but there were some clouds threatening to block the sunshine, plus there are some trees to the west that were going to cast shadows on the train. Shoot while you can!

I met up with a few local railfans who were up by the head end (nice to see you, Jeff, Ken, David and Chad!), took a few photos and chatted for a bit. I decided to walk up the train on the sun / west side and take some photos along the way.

CP 4107 in Winnipeg
CP 1900 - not a lot of "B" units around these days!

CP 4106 was a late addition

Walking the Train

I wanted to photograph every car, since the train was so pretty. I have seen some of these cars before on the Holiday Train but not so up close and personal. Many of these cars are part of the Royal Canadian Pacific collection, used for some very expensive trips!

There were some private security people posted all along the train, but as I found out, they were there to keep people from crossing under / through the train and to keep people from vandalizing the train.

I chatted with a couple of them and they were very nice.

The lead car behind CP 4106 was CP 95, a former baggage car that is now a generator car. It has the Royal Canadian Pacific shield on it.

Following CP 95 was MOUNT ROYAL / CP 93, then KILLARNEY / CP 71 and BANFFSHIRE / CP 85. The first two are superficially similar - both 83' passenger cars with an end platform - but MOUNT ROYAL weighs 15 tons more than KILLARNEY (102 tons versus 87 tons). I wonder why?

After BANFFSHIRE were two special cars for this train - the "Spirit of Tomorrow" car and the stage car.

The Spirit of Tomorrow

The "Spirit of Tomorrow" car has over 8,000 "pixels" on the car. Each "pixel" is a card that a child has written their hopes for "tomorrow's" Canada on it. I think it's a really neat idea.

The finished car will be part of the 2017 Holiday Train.

CP 102 is the ERNEST "SMOKY" SMITH car underneath. Ernest Smith was the last living Canadian Victoria Cross recipient. He received his VC for tremendous courage at an action in northern Italy in 1944. This railcar was dedicated to him in 2003, less than two years before his death.

Next is the stage car, boxcar CP 42901. This is one of the two stage cars used in the CP Holiday Train and features a wide stage that drops down to host the performers at each stop.

CP 42901, the stage car
The car was repainted with a giant Canadian flag replacing the Holiday Train logo, and it had panels added on each side, with the Canada 150 logo on one and the CP Beaver shield on the other.

Craigellachie... I'll be visiting you soon!
Following that was MOUNT STEPHEN / CP 74 and ASSINIBOINE / CP 70. Those two had their platforms facing each other.
Platform to platform
Someone was out making a phone call, but didn't really want to be photographed. :)

Up next was NR CRUMP / CP 79, STRATHCONA / CP 82, VAN HORNE / CP 77, gym car CP 104, business car CP 2, and finally theatre car SANDFORD FLEMING / CP 1.
What a beautiful train!
In the weeds...

The Show

The show at the CP Canada 150 train
There were several performers travelling with the train, including:

  • Canadian country music artist Dean Brody
  • World champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand
  • Country singer Kelly Prescott
  • The CP "house band" Rail Road Ramblers
  • Canadian band Eagle and Hawk (Edmonton and Winnipeg only)

By the time I got around to the stage, Dean Brody was performing... and he was putting on a good show!
Dean Brody in Winnipeg
Now, country music isn't really my thing.. to say the least.. but I enjoyed Dean's songs. He was performing with a lot of enthusiasm, interacting with the audience, and the band sounded great.

Dean Brody, #ConnectingCanada
I had a look at the SPIRIT OF TOMORROW car on this side. I liked a lot of the messages here. Click on the image to expand.
I didn't take many photos of the dark side of the train. They would have been awful. I did take a lot of photos of Dean and a few of the crowd. The light wasn't great, but you work with what you have.

As I was walking away toward the head end, he launched into his signature song, Bring Down the House. That one I knew!

Head and Tail

Back at the head end, I met up with photographer Kevin Siemens and chatted for a bit. He and I met at the destruction of the Meadows grain elevator... something I will write about soon. Too many posts in the queue already...

Anyway, we waited patiently to get a head-on shot of CP 1401. It took a while to get a gap with no people in it - and you know patience isn't my strong suit - but eventually the opportunity came.
CP 1401 head on
This is a combination of 3 shots using Adobe Lightroom's HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature. I did that because I was shooting toward the sun and I didn't think I could get enough range without blowing out the sky or having the locomotive's nose be too dark.

The train was scheduled to depart at 8 PM to go back to the CP downtown yard. There was a rumour that the train would be heading south to Grande Pointe to meet a northbound train. That would have been exciting... but the engineer of the train came along and a quick conversation confirmed that the train was just backing up to the yard.

The engineer - another Steve - was very friendly and I had a good conversation with him. He was quite happy to be driving the train and considered it an honour to be able to run an F unit.

Just before 8, I walked back to the rear of the train to record its departure. There were a few other railfans there as well as some "muggles" aka casual onlookers. At 8 sharp the train started backing up and off it went. I took video of its departure.

I went home after that.

The Next Day

The train was due to leave Winnipeg at 9 AM. I decided to catch it crossing the Floodway as it headed east on the CP Keewatin subdivision.

I wanted to shoot it from the east side of the Floodway, facing east. Since it was leaving in the morning the light would be on the nose - great.

Unfortunately, I had never tried to photograph from that area before. I drove up Deacon Road / highway 207 then turned left right after the tracks. I photographed the CP Holiday Train in 2016 right at the intersection, but I had never been near the Floodway.

The departure of the CP 150 train
I couldn't find any way to get from the Springfield Road 63N to anywhere near the Floodway bridge. There is a little private crossing above the "K" in the map above, but it is nowhere near the bridge.

Time was running short, so I decided to head for the west side of the bridge. There's a walking trail along the Floodway. I parked at the public lot at the end of Gunn Road and walked the kilometre up the trail to the tracks.

I set up there and the train made its appearance at 09:07, right on time.
CP 1401 and the Canada 150 train leaving Winnipeg
It looked glorious in the early morning light, and sounded great too!

Bye bye, F units!
Here's the video of its departure.

Love those maroon cars!
Off to Ontario
So that was that.

A Bonus Train

As I was halfway back to my car, I heard a horn to the north. Another train! I quickly trotted back a ways and set up to record CP 8850 dragging a grain train west across the bridge.
CP 8850 and the Floodway Bridge
There was nothing really remarkable about this train, but it was nice to catch it nevertheless.


Thanks to Canadian Pacific for organizing this train and show, and travelling across most of Canada so Canadians can experience a train and a great show for themselves. Thanks to engineer Steve for chatting with me, and thanks to certain anonymous railfans for detailed information on the train and its schedule.

See Also


_Don said...

Nice story, great pictures! The train arrives in Ottawa today, and I hope to catch it on its inbound journey from Smiths Falls. It's coming in on the VIA line near my house. In any event, I'll see it at the Ottawa station later on.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Don! I hope you get some good photos - enjoy the show!

_Don said...

Happily, my planning paid off and I got some great shots of it coming in. I'll be writing a blog post about it later.

Sadly, the event itself was absolutely terrible. I was looking forward to basically what you experienced. It was nothing of the sort. I got there at about 3:30 (event started at 3) and came across people leaving. Already!? Go to the station to see three of the coaches, including the stage car and the train of tomorrow coach, but no locomotives. When going up to the train of tomorrow coach, we couldn't get close to it because it was within a CP Rail employees only area, which was a third of the platform area. When asking about getting near the coaches and where the locomotives were, I was given a story about only having a little space to accommodate, bla bla bla. Take out the two heritage coaches, push the other two down and bring in one of the A units for photos.

Now, granted, it is a working station. But there were three live tracks further over that easily could have had fencing and security around to make sure no one came to close. Turns out the locomotives were behind the coaches. Driving around to the other side of the station into a parking lot, I could see them through the fence. I climbed on the hood of my car to get a shot, but because I was expecting closer photos, I only brought my wide-angle lens.

Suffice to say, it was a terrible event and people are quite angry. Some drove quite a distance for this. I voiced my displeasure as did others on the Facebook event page.

I'm glad your event was actually good and you got some great shots.

AJ said...

Thanks for the post. I was planning to go to the Ottawa stop yesterday but never made it back in from Gananoque in time. It's too bad as from the looks of it, it was a beauty too!

I have seen Dean Brody before (when he was touring here with Paul Brandt who for any country lives was the best live show I have heard) and really appreciated how much fun he has on stage, so I figured this was going to be a great show.

_Don said...

My story on catching the CP150.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Don, thanks for the post!