Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Postscript: Trackside Treasure Third Anniversary

We have a winner! And how it happened is a really interesting story. Congratulations to Bryan Fulsom who guessed all five station photos in the contest. Here's Bryan's story of how he did it:

It was a really good contest. Actually, it took me more than an hour to figure it all out. I grew up in Ottawa, so I recognized #1 right away. I've been to Montreal a dozen times, so #5 wasn't too hard either.

For the others, I used the Parks Canada website. Maybe you're familiar with it. It seems pretty much every railway station in Canada has been designated as a historic building. As a result, their database has something like 395+ thumbnails to dig through! The "Y" in North Bay helped narrow it down, but it took a while to figure out until I matched the particular brick pattern around the second storey windows.

Next was Smithers, a place, to be honest, I'd never even heard of. I didn't notice the "S", or if I did, it didn't help. That was a really tough one, but I found it by scanning through all of the pictures that looked like multiple-storey stations. Still, the picture I found online has a completely different orientation. What I barely noticed was the CN wet noodle sign on the roof (I thought maybe it was a clock?), which matched the old CNR maple leaf logo in the online picture.

For Thunder Bay, I used the grain elevator, bridge, and the clue that only 2 out of the 5 still had rail service. Present-day photos Marina Park maybe sort of looked like a match, but I really didn't know for sure. By that time my wife was yelling at me to come to bed, so I took a guess. I think what was most interesting was comparing your photos with historic and present day photos to see how much the geography/use of the station had changed over time...from busy yards / epic stations to near non-existence in some cases. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the follow-up post where you explain the circumstances of each of your photos.

Well done, Bryan. The Ottawa photo was taken while heading west through Ottawa. Although the dome appears empty in the photo, I'd just been part of a very spontaneous sing-along up there with a tour group from Nova Scotia. "Edna! Edna! Who's he put your mind to? The MacAulay boy?" North Bay's photo was taken on the same trip. Both North Bay and Smithers had the last letter of each nameboard in the photo, but you had to look hard for it. Smithers' photo was taken into the early morning sun, during a station stop on the way to Prince Rupert. Port Arthur's Canadian Northern station is well-known, but not all that visible in the vestibule photo, although other Thunder Bay themes were visible. An honourable mention goes to Manny Jacob for specifically mentioning Windsor Station in Montreal, which I photographed after arriving on the overnight Cavalier before heading west. The MUCTC bus and Montreal city logo on the lamppost were hints.

The photos were cropped to hide some obvious details. Many readers showed dogged determination in guessing the stations, which is admirable. Maybe the contest next year should be more difficult, perhaps featuring closeups of window styles from various stations, or chimneys, or parking lots...well, I'm getting carried away. Instead, here's the Parks Canada website Bryan found so helpful - definitely worth a look. Interestingly, it was a Canadian railfan searching a Canadian website all the way from France! Magnifique!

Trackside Treasure readers rise to the challenge! Thanks for helping this blogger celebrate another milestone (milepost?) and for all your support of Trackside Treasure.


Zartok-35 said...

I'm not too well informed where railway stations are concerned, but I was able to figure out Thunder Bay and Montreal, the latter by means of that city bus, and intensive research on the BusAndRailPhotos website. (

Congratulations to the winner! If this prize set is anything like what I won last year, you're in for a treat! I still need to frame that glorious hellcat photo that was in there.

Bryan said...

Thanks, and thanks to Eric for holding the contest! Finding that Parks Canada website with all of the railway stations was new to me, and I spent a lot of time browsing after the contest was done. Hopefully others will find it interesting too, if they haven't seen it yet.

Eric said...

Good effort, Elijah. Thanks for attempting the contest and your good wishes for Bryan.

Bryan, I knew someone who worked in the branch of the federal government that produced the historic station reports, so was able to receive a couple of them. This site is much more user-friendly and accessible, and I'm sure others will make use of it. Thanks again for the link.


Bryan said...

I almost forgot to mention it, but I had a similar sing-along story heading west outside of Sioux Lookout. A Japanese guy, who spoke almost no English but knew every Beatles song, and his hippie wife led everyone in a few rousing choruses of Hey Jude, etc. Kind of fun, but waking up with a crick in your neck from sleeping in the observation car to a lounge full of cigarette smoke and a dozen people belting out Yellow Submarine is not always the best way to start the day.

Eric said...

I'd drink to that, Bryan. Na-na-na-nananana. My choir's repertoire included standard fare sing-along songs circa 1940's. Can't imagine it happening in an LRC car, but you never know.