Wednesday, November 30, 2016

35 Years in 3 Days

How is this possible, you ask? How can 35 years be covered in three days? Well, as part of the 'Recollections' piece of my fourth book on VIA Rail, I'm doing a deep recall of my trip aboard VIA in 1981. Interestingly, I travelled from Kingston to Winnipeg over CN lines on the Super Continental. All blue & yellow consist on a curve out of Capreol. Lookin' fine!

With a combination of a pre-written journal of subdivisions, mileages, schedule, dates and trains and good ole-fashioned pencil and paper note-taking, I'm reconstructing not only the trip west and then the trip east from Calgary through Winnipeg to Sudbury, Ottawa and Montreal aboard CP. Now I've finally transcribed it into a readable account. Travelling home from Montreal aboard exx-Reading Crusader coach 303? Amazing.

Spanning the decades resulted in three days' work. It was enjoyable entertainment. It was a remarkable reverie. It will be shared.


A 134-car CP grain train stabs the Super at West Tower on August 26, 1981. Someone was asking for photos of the former CP Express building. Here is one (top photo).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Can I have a Word with you?

How about 38 Word documents? That's the count as of today. All of them are going into my fourth book on VIA Rail. They cover a range of VIA topics from a range of eras. They cover stations, routes, trains, equipment, trips and more.

Of course there will be more documents. And photos. And data. 


Friday, November 11, 2016

Colour FTW!

Blue. Yellow. Red. Grey. White. Renaissance Green. These colours are part of VIA's palette. Not to mention the background colours of scenery, stations, trackage and passengers. Having completed an informal survey, I've decided my upcoming, fourth book on VIA Rail WILL HAVE a colour section. Woot!

I really appreciate everyone's voluminous input on this topic. There will be something for the B&W fans and the colour fans. Many responses centred on depicting standard photos in black and white, but to really use the colour section for photos that 'pop' in that format. The people have spoken. The VIAphiles have voted. Notice the colour in use on a selection of VIA books (top photo)?

I'm glad I asked now, because I'm deep in data and text preparation. Photo selection will follow and I will be using the above criteria to guide that very enjoyable process. 

Thank you and...

Friday, November 4, 2016

What 's Colour Worth to YOU?

Is it worth 33% more? Would you buy a book that features 10 pages of colour photos and pay a third more? If it was Norfolk Southern, Penn Central or even CN zebra stripes, you'd probably say no. But what if it's the yellow, blue, green, silver and red of VIA? My fourth book will include lots of photos.

In this season of political polling, this is...publishing polling. I'm trying to decide if my fourth book should include a colour section. If you have my last book, you can reflect on this question first hand, with the Cross-Canada Compendium in hand.

This is your chance to vote or comment. I truly appreciate your input on this!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A New Book on Track!

The glare of the headlight has picked up a new book on track! The fourth in the Trackside with VIA series.
Stay tuned here for updates on this exciting new project!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blog Partners Partnering

Two of my valued blog partners, Chris Mears and Steve Boyko, and I were recently commenting on one of Chris' thought-provoking posts. The topic was the nexus of  enthusiasts studying prototype railways for model railway inspiration, and the resources available for those who are modelling from memories of others. 

"... talking about the future I couldn’t resist the urge to ask where we’ll find our inspiration as our relationship with real trains gets further distanced. I’ve met so many new modellers who are doing really great work yet don’t have that rich history with real railroading that so many of our model railway forefathers had." --Chris

"It’s harder to get to a train for many of us and when we get there it isn’t as easy to get as deeply involved as we once might have been able to."  --Chris

"People like Eric Gagnon who publish what is a little unconventional – basically masses of data in some cases – are doing a great service to today’s and tomorrow’s modellers and historians by sharing valuable information. This kind of data is useful to modellers who don’t have that direct experience. For example, I can’t model the 1980 Canadian based on my experience – I never saw it – but I could model it pretty accurately based on photos, consists from Eric and others, books, and so forth. We live in magical times." --Steve
"Eric’s books stand as an equally unique and truly wonderful resource for the prototype modeller. I’ve spent so many hours happily combing through those consists and mapping patterns waiting to be found. I feel like I’ve learned so much about VIA just from observing it and it leaves a sentiment that feels like the one I might have had, if I’d had the chance to be there trackside." --Chris
Validation. Confirmation. Realization. Animation. Action. Documentation. I like Steve's term 'masses of data'. I'll keep amassing because someone, somewhere will be looking for it somehow, someday!
Highball! Eric
 Memories (top photo) and Reality...VIA Nos 47 and 42 at Kingston, December 2014.

Friday, July 8, 2016

It's 1979 in Brockville!

Pennsylvania's Jeremy Plant visited Brockville, ON on August 11, 1979. That same evening, I was trackside in Kingston. Jeremy recently posted some of his Brockville photos on Facebook, and two are published here with his permission. An Ottawa-Toronto VIA train negotiates the final CP Rail trackage into Brockville, before gaining CN's Kingston Sub for the remainder of its trip to Toronto. Of the nine-car consist, I was able to record five cars at speed at Kingston. Power was 6793-6633, and I noted lead baggage 9649, cafe-bar lounge 2500, University Club, coach 5495 and tail-end baggage 9652.

VIA 2500 and 6793 retained CN colours into 1981, though 9649 was in VIA paint next year, in 1980.

I really enjoy being able to indulge in this type of sleuthing, matching retro photos to consist information I diligently recorded and much later, published on paper. Anyone looking at this photo might glean a locomotive number or two, and draw some conclusion about the train's consist, but to have useable consist information to apply 37 years later is remarkable.

Here, the train is accelerating west from Brockville, reaching Kingston after sunset.
I'm glad Jeremy visited Canada, taking and sharing these fine photos, and I'm also glad to have some small part in interpreting this bit of early-era VIA history!