Friday, January 29, 2016

Big Books!

When I purchased Greg McDonnell's Signatures in Steel, it was the biggest, most expensive and only coffee-table Canadian railway book I'd ever seen. And I had to have it. Covering multiple Canadian railways at locations from coast to coast, Signatures is THE seminal volume encapsulating Canadian railroading at its finest.

Arriving in today's mail was an inscribed image wrap cover copy of Raymond S Farand's Steel Passageways 'Up The Valley' - Trains of the Ottawa Valley Volume 2. This book is the biggest, most expensive and most interesting coffee-table book I've ever seen. It covers CN's operations in detail, featuring prototype paperwork, informative and detailed text, and photography from across several decades. Ray's Volume 1 covered CP, but I'm much more familiar with CN's Kingston Sub here, and in fact most of the trains that were running from Ottawa to North Bay ended up here after that line was removed.

Ray's Volume 2 includes many views of CN and VIA passenger trains through Ottawa, and I need to read up on his coverage and photos of VIA's short-lived use of the line through Ottawa to North Bay, before it moved to CP rails west of Ottawa. The photos, maps, text, editing and layout make this book a real page-turner with in-depth coverage along the line. Ray notes that many railroaders from the Ottawa area have given good feedback on his book - that has to be very satisfying after creating this historical record of this difficult, scenic and utterly Canadian trackage

And a huge teaser - Volume 3 just might cover VIA! Blurb periodically offers discount codes of up to 20% on direct online purchases. More information on the Blurb website and a free preview.

I can heartily recommend Ray's books.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Head End of 2016

What does the coming year hold? Like the head end of a train, what follows behind is not known until it comes to pass. the same is true of 2016. Here are three things I can tell you about my life as a VIAphile in 2016:
The January-February 2016 issue of Bytown Railway Society's Branchline newsmagazine will feature an article on Operation Axle, the little-known four-month period in 1992 when the LRC car fleet was pulled from service due to axle problems. My main Canadian railway blog Trackside Treasure will host a three-part series on Op Axle including photos, consists and mock-ups. 
I continue to amass consists, locomotive and rolling stock data, and operational details from throughout VIA's various eras. What this will become is as yet unknown. A potential future project? For the time being, I've contented myself with some night photography at VIA's Kingston station, included in this post. I was positively channelling photographer Jim Shaughnessy as I converted these in-camera images to black & white. VIA No 55 on January 1 (top 2 photos) and VIA No 66 on January 2 with bonus baggage car (these two photos).
My thinning and subsequent organization of my VIA Rail collection went very well, with other VIAphiles adding to their VIA paper collections while I downsized mine, in what I called VIA Paper by the Pound! A few surplus items remain - email me if interested. Of course, I'm keeping these vintage VIA transcon hat-checks!
Hoping 2016 will be great for all of us, as always...