Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Montreal-Vancouver Round Trip, August 1968 Scenery & Canada Day 2016

From August 5 to August 23, 1968 my parents and siblings travelled from Montreal to Vancouver on CN. It seems fitting to publish this post just in time for Trackside Treasure's annual observance of Canada Day - celebrating the treasure found trackside across this country! Check out Canada Day 2015, Canada Day 2014, and Canada Day 2013 which includes links to all previous years' posts!  In subsequent posts, I'll include photos of the trains we rode and our family's activities on this trip. Thanks to my brother Dave for scanning these photos taken by our father, L.C. Gagnon. Includes are some passages from a trip account written by my mother. Typical Canadian Shield topography east of Winnipeg (top photo), and a Winnipeg streetscape during an impromptu taxi tour that we took on August 7:
"Our original intention was to see if there was a city bus tour; Laurie also had a hankering to take a bus out to Lower Fort Garry, being a fan of Fort Henry at Kingston, Ontario. After research and discussion, we settled on a Moore's taxi tour to Lower Fort Garry, which turned out to be not too far from Winnipeg ($17.50). As we drove out of town I noticed a Greek Orthodox church."
"The aspect of the land changed dramatically outside Winnipeg. Grassland stretched flat and far off to the horizon. I drew the children's attention to the black soil in gardens beside the farmhouses and in cleared spots at the edges of fields. At home the soil is brown, here it was a black as black could be."
Not the first grain elevators we'd passed, these are at Wainwright, AB on August 8:
"During the night we had passed completely through Saskatchewan, seeing absolutely nothing of it. I remembered it from my trip before as having been flat. Now we were into the rolling hills of Alberta. There were also gullies, or I believe 'bluffs' as they are called there; there was still some black earth, but the predominant colours were brown and greens."
The first view of the Rockies and our train, CN No 5 the Panorama:
"At last we broke into the Rockies. The children were much impressed with the mountains. There was a steady click-click of cameras by Laurie and his understudies! We followed several green streams, and went through one tunnel."

CP's Princess Patricia in Victoria harbour August 14
 Returning east aboard CN No 2 the Super Continental, skyscape west of Edmonton on August 21:
Saskatchewan Pool elevator at Spy Hill SK, August 22
Approaching Winnipeg on August 22 - sunflowers again:
End-of-train east of Winnipeg also on August 22 (below):
"We ate supper on schedule at 1800 during a long stop at Sioux Lookout, a rather barren spot. Eric went to sleep at the table and I kept having to jar him awake for the next mouthful. We were into the Canadian Shield country now, and you know what THAT is like."
Late the next day our family would detrain at Dorval, having observed forests, prairies, and mountains; seascapes, skyscapes, sunrises and sunsets!

"I felt I should apologize for the length of this account. But when I considered the mileage we had covered and the number of days there were to write about, I didn't feel as foolish. And I did want to tell you about MY COUNTRY - at least as I saw it."

Happy Canada Day to all readers of Trackside Treasure - Eric.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

GO Toronto-Aldershot Round Trip, June 2016

Before returning to Kingston from Toronto, some downtime became available. This thought crossed my mind - ride Union-Pearson Express, GO Transit, TTC and VIA Rail all in one day. Well, three out of four ain't bad, to paraphrase the recently-collapsed singer Meatloaf. Casting about for a destination that was reachable and returnable within a couple of hours, I settled on beautiful downtown Aldershot! 
Overcast through Mimico, where GO Transit (above and below) has its maintenance base north of the CN mainline and VIA Rail (top photo - in which my fellow bifocally bibliophilic passenger seems unaware she is passing by some classic Budd Railiners including Rapido Trains' ex-VIA 6133, second from left) has its Toronto Maintenance Centre south of the CN. The full-consist maintenance bays (above) look similar to the ones currently being constructed at Whitby on the Lakeshore East line.
One-of-a-kind GO 647 (above) and old soldier 558 (below) were among the GOtive power present.
Rarely seen: the end of a GO coach, in this case cab car 230:
GO Transit cop car, taken at one of many stations on the Lakeshore West line. Having left my notepad behind, I endured this entire trip without taking any notes whatsoever. Didn't like it!
The top level interior of minty new Bombardier cab car 327. The carpeting on the floor between pairs of seats is already looking worn. Perhaps a deep-pile lime-green shag carpet would have prevented this.
Upstairs-downstairs. Proof-of-payment was checked both ways on this round trip.
Hercules Chemical, now called Ashland Chemical, is an anchor industry visible from the wye at Burlington. A classic building that I once planned to model, thereby using up large quantities of sky-blue paint and Revell Superior Bakery kits, the site is now surrounded by titans of the (retail) industry like Mandarin Buffet, IKEA and Kwik Kopy Design & Print Centre!
A 10-minute layover at Aldershot, with BAEX boxcars, GATX red-square tank cars and auto racks on the other side of the train, I suddenly felt reflective before re-boarding to head back to T-Dot.
Increased safety? Check! Improved crew visibility? Check! Face only a mother could love? Check!
Cab car 327 balefully basking in the late afternoon sun at Aldershot. As much of a rear-view as I could get:
Hey kids! Take your baseballs, your kites, your aerosol cans of spray paint and stay off the dang tracks!
Now seated on the south side, we approach our quarry at Mimico's TMC:
Brought to you by the letter R...for RDC, Renaissance and Rapido:
Now we're talking: ex-CP coach:
And another. And is that the honey wagon?
East-facing HEP2 consist:
Chateau Dollier chez nous:
Approaching my favourite T.O. trainwatching spot at the west exit of the Skywalk at Union Station:
Thine alabaster cities another new GO cab car heads west:
Rumours of no-photography on platforms left me feeling a little like George Drury of TRAINS magazine fame travelling in East Germany. Quick parting snap. I think it's Gate/Track 26!
And that concluded an enjoyable though brief rare-mileage ride for me aboard Metrolinx. Reasonably-priced rail enthusiast enterainment for about $11 each way!

Running extra...

My top photo reminds me of a slightly more scenery-minded passenger, this one in 1985, aboard the Bathurst streetcar, overlooking the wheeled wonders of a swan song-Spadina.

Are you getting the impression you need to garner more GO gleanings? Try these previous posts:
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds overflew Kingston yesterday leading up the CFB Trenton's air show this weekend, just in time for Canada Day. Watch for Trackside Treasure's upcoming annual Canada Day post. Revelling in the eighties' multi-ship flying displays by Freedom Fighters, Voodoos, Phantoms, Hercules and even a mass paratroop-drop.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kingston-Toronto Return Trip, June 2016

June 5 finds me aboard VIA No 55 heading to Toronto. VIA 6446 led, with 3453-3318-33xx-33xx following dutifully behind. Ten minutes previous, VIA No 66 was eastbound: 919-3470-3301-3346-3332-3335-3339. VIA, in its infinite wisdom, has done away with the demi-demi-tasse and actually uses a decent-sized china coffee cup in Business Class. Along with a not-too-recent issue of TRAINS magazine (for station stops only) and note-taking equipment, we're off! Ladies and gentlemen, our next station stop will be Belleville. Belleveel le prochain arret Belleveel environ cinq minutes!
I always like to keep an eye on the lineside industries still served by CN. Though the GM plant and LASCO are still busy, the yards full of waiting cars are fewer. This ex-DuPont plant just west of Oshawa continues to see covered hoppers on multiple tracks. Though not one Sclair car among them!
A ride aboard the 510 Spadina surface route started and ended sub-surface. The new Bombardier Flexity articulated car can easily, well, articulate around the loop to the Harbourfront line in the bowels of Union Station, and looks equally at home in the bowels of Spadina station:
Tail-end as most passengers have disembarked and more are embarking. I was channelling the lyrics of the seminal Shuffle Demons' cult classic Spadina Bus: I need confirmation about my information on my transportation from Spadina station.
Heading back to Union, the 511 Bathurst CLRV keeps it all on the surface, as another crosses our tracks after us. All-door Flexity boarding means...get a transfer and hold on to it!
Transfer to the 509 Harbourfront at Fleet to return to Toronto Union. Here comes ours now:
As another CLRV heads west off Bathurst. Mind the speed limit, not necessarily the gap:
With new Bombardier-built beauties in the 300-series filling the cab car cracks, some 200-series cars like 204 and 214 are being pressed into service as coaches. Minty new 327 provided a sweet ride to Aldershot!
Always check with the on-board staff before attempting the head-end pre-departure photo. Much less chance of spending unexpected time in Toronto that way. VIA No 48 readies for departure. Now that this consist originates in Toronto, not points west, pre-boarding is more reliable and relaxing. Also less chance of a late departure. Scarface!
VIA 917-3462-3354-3324-3370-3359-908 was one of VIA's new double-ended consists, intended to reduce wyeing of consists at terminals. One Business Class passenger was lying on the floor trying to turn seats. In fact, the first 10 minutes of boarding were taken up with passengers discussing the merits and mostly the de-merits of reverse-riding. Of retrospective relocation. Of backwards bedazzlement. And no, you cannot enjoy the scenery longer facing backwards.
Had it been the 1950's:
The Bar Cart cometh. The blur represents the movement of the train, not my blurred vision nor slurred speech. Waitresh! Waitresh! I'll have a beer, pleash!
Hoisting a Heineken while reading takes a back seat (not backwards-facing) to the passing scenery - four turkeys, a deer and a family of swans!
Oshawa relics:
On Lake Ontario, between Port Hope and Cobourg, a Lower Lakes Shipping self-unloader is upbound:on the horizon. Train-to-ship photography!
Port Hope's Cameco plant, still receiving tank cars of hydrogen fluoride, formerly from Amherstburg, ON; now from Geismar, LA.
Hello Cobourg!

Running extra...

I enjoyed visiting the big, glitzy and spacious new York Concourse (note, that's the York Concourse that's new, not The Big Apple!) serving GO Transit trains at Union Station. Now with food service! But this is Toronto. So expect to pay more for your McDonald's Sausage McMuffin in the big city. GO for it! Watch for an upcoming post on my trip to Aldershot, of all places!