CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The Ontario Northland Railway Christmas Train rides the rails starting December 3 in North Bay...then all points north.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Canadian Railway Observation

CRO had this current picture of the Mattawa Station in the final stages of its life.

The railway removal train is picking up a fresh crew for the trip east to the Chalk River Sub , where the rail is being pulled out of the bed for good.

The CRO site is an interesting page that puts up photos with a question soliciting your opinions. Railfans may like to visit .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Design Summit: CP Rail yards- Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Free Press , is offering an opportunity for the people of the city to have their say in how they would like the CP Rail yards to develop into the future.

Mike Deal/Winnipeg Free Press 


July 31

at 7:00 pm

at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe

How would you transform the CP Rail yards? 
Boris Minkevich/ Winnipeg Free Press

An enticing question for anyone familiar with the capital of Manitoba . 

An aching question for those watching the demise of the railroad age.

An exciting question for those with vision for the future of the largest piece of land situated in the heart of the city.

What kind of question is it for you?

The Free Press offers this site with all the resources and points of view to help plan  ahead...prior to the Summit.

I know railways buffs and fans out there will be interested in following this one. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Caboose Coffee

There can never be enough talk and tales for railway readers and fans. A visit from this blogger led me to his blog. Caboose Coffee

 I like the fact that this is 'one mans story' . It is not officious or over taxing. Just one voice. His views,opinions and stories.  All adding to the picture of what everyday life is like for rail people.

Do stop by for a visit. I intend following this one.

This is such an interesting and informative site. I am learning a lot. These two posts are of particular interest to me at the moment:

The Classic Railroad Pocket Watch

Railway Clothing

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Railways and Forest Fires

In the days of steam , railways were the path of human contact through tinder dry forests . The sparks of dragging wheels , hot cinders blown from the stack and hotboxes on fire caused many forest fires .


1908 LongLake West fire

Looking for Railfires
USDA Forest Service
If the intense heat of severe drought can cause this...

Severe Drought and intense heat waves hit Russia

... then what will the current fire near Kirkland Lake , Ontario leave behind for this high rail crew.

Kirkland Lake Fire ,May 2012
photo from Willy Renaud

Now why would a maintenance-of-way crew be out on the tracks with a fire raging toward them by the look of the flames?
The most they could do would be to return when its all come and gone, to assess damage.

However , one suggestion was that perhaps they dropped a fire fighting crew in the area and are waiting to evacuate them when needed. That sounds sensible since everyone who can is helping out on this fire . And the railway is the only way in to some areas where roads are few.

What do you think?


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Railroad Spike Knife

This is recycling at it's best. When the first railways were built 'smithies' designed and churned out spikes . The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and foundries could mass produce spikes for the CPR push west.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tension Builds

This song during the 60's as a teenager living in the CPR section house had a big impact on me. It captured the fear and panic of chaos at home and away.

I lived a lot of my life in fear , as I was a timid child in the a small world . Like most teenagers , I played the all-knowing role more for survival than in actual knowledge and experience. As long as others thought you knew something of life , there was no real challenge to your personal security. That behaviour got me through some personally scary times .

Monday, February 27, 2012


Did you see that I misplaced these last three posts. Sorry! They were for the Mattawa Fish blog . Well thank you for taking the time to look them over.

Ice Fishing accident!!


How not to pull your truck out of the ice.

The language in this video is precisely profane...but what else could he possibly say in the immediate circumstances.

Multiple Vehicles Fall Into Lake - Video - WISN Milwaukee

Multiple Vehicles Fall Into Lake - Video - WISN Milwauke

Don't use the calendar to determine the thickness of the ice . Get out and check. Remember that snow fall actually insulates the ice from the cold air. So that ice doesn't freeze into thicknesses that can support heavy weight in small areas. The ice must be over one foot thick to support one heavy truck ( transport ). Several smaller trucks/cars can easily add up to the same weight fairly quickly. This year the ice has not got to the thicknesses of years past. Be careful out there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Grand Way to Travel

The TRHA had this little video on their blog today and I couldn't resist sharing it with you. That's one trip - grand in every way- worth the effort and time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tales on the Railroad

I found this story , spooky at that , called The Ghost Train . It supposedly happened in 1908 Alberta to a fireman working the CPR. It is taken from S.E.Schlosser's book - Spooky Canada .

I wonder how many tales like this one are out there told around the wood stoves in the bunkhouse back in the day.
Maybe you have come across one or two in your time. Why not share one with us?

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Anniversary

My second post in this blog was ' How It Started/Soldier War Bride/CPR ' on January 28, 2011. Today is the date , February 10 in 1946 that my Mum landed in Halifax - an immigrant war bride to Canada. Fresh out of the British Army.

The Canadian Encyclopedia sent out a reminder on their Fb page with a post on just that subject.

A couple of weeks after disembarking Mum found herself enjoying her first Canadian winter with new nieces and nephews.
Mum was one of over 40 000 women who made that trip on that ship and others.

Arriving in Canada during the coldest part of the winter was no easy thing. Other cold receptions did not make it any easier. But she stayed and made a new life with Dad in Northern Ontario courtesy of 'Canada' and the CPR.

More information about the ship is available here Cunard-White Star Line to the home page. You will find the ship's name in the right hand column. (RMS Mauritania 2)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Early 1960s - A Time Of Innocence

By the mid sixties , the Korean War , the Cold War , the very real threat of Nuclear War ,  the Viet Nam War ,and the strong arm tactics used against  Blacks , protesters ,college students , and Native people were quickly wearing out the fantasy of the perfect life our parents had imagined when the Second World War was put behind them.  The world appeared to be spinning out of control. This insanity had to stop.

Who was right? Who was wrong?  Things were not so simple anymore.

Top 25 Songs of The 1960s

Music began coming to us from all sides in the sixties. New sounds. New styles. New rhythms. Fast and furious. So much was happening in the world and it was affecting even our little town in northern Ontario.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Plain Folk

Coming from an area where country music , French Canadian music and other music from the people was common, the folk period of 1960's was a natural fit.

Sitting in backyards around campfires and in kitchens with guitars , fiddles and accordions was a regular pastime for many. Old favourites and new songs were taken on enthusiastically . Voices blending and harmonizing . Groups tied together by circumstance and time.

This Canadian Folk singer had a long career . Many of his songs are recognized world wide and are now classics. Gordon Lightfoot was one of the best Canadian exports of the 60's and 70's.

Another was Joni Mitchell.

And then there was American Bob Dillan.

These were only three of the many folk singers who shook our world bringing so many things into our small and sheltered part of the world for us to think about.

Time changes slowly in small towns but big things were happening quickly everywhere else . Folk singers brought these things to us . Music was the fastest way to expose people to new ideas . New ways of looking at issues. For a long time I didn't really understand from where these new concepts came or even how to relate to them . But each time the song was sung again , my awareness and thoughts expanded.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Now There's A Switch

Can anyone out there explain how this happened? I know the crew in the photo are thinking about how to make it 'un-happen'. Hm-mmm???

Friday, January 27, 2012

No Way ! One Year...

January 28 , 2011 - January 27, 2012

I have been blogging for one year at Blogger.

Hoorah for me !!!

6500 visitors

175 posts

WOW ...

World's Largest Model Railway

The boys over at www.trha.ca have posted an excellent 5 minute video about the world's largest model railway.

Even though railways is the base of this amazing display , there are many modes of transportation represented.

Gather the children and grandchildren beside you for this one. What a feat !

The Model is located in Hamburg,Germany and is viewed annually by a million visitors , from across the world.

What a Control Centre required to keep this going ! It would rival that of a real modern railway.

Why hadn't I heard of this before?

Thanks Russ from TWHA for giving us a nudge that way.

Go the the Railways website to view the video.


Monday, January 23, 2012


Quake.....Shake...Swim...Jerk...Twist...Mash...Monkey...  Pony...Frug...

It was all put into the classification of Go-Go . And go-go I did. Every chance I got.

There is nothing more in tune with the teenager than to jump and contort and appear out of control to the adults in their life. Or at least that stereotype was the one promoted to us . We were supposed to be different , to rebel, to think that we could change the world. 

Life gave us the freedom our parents didn't have . We went for it. We were new and unique. There had been nothing like us before. In true teenage arrogance , we pursued that image eventually in more than dance.

No one really knew what exactly we were going to do to change the world but we would dance  until we found out.

Go-Go was the beginning of that change . Made up of  many individual dances , the need to gel as a group spurred connection. It allowed us to bring our own style and blend in with a like-minded group  while still being individuals. Well ..that is what we thought.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dance Movies

Another source of dance knowledge for a new teenager in Northern Ontario were the movies that showed at the Mattawa Theatre. The evening shows on Friday ( if there was no dance at school) and Saturday ( if there was no dance at the arena hall)  were packed with young people . All of them watching carefully. Picking up moves from the stars. As hokey as these movies seem now , they were pretty important for keeping tabs on what was happening in the larger teenage world...Well as far as Hollywood could dictate ...to much to which we could not relate. But we faked it with confidence.

This video shows a current interpretation of what the dances were like. My suggestion more shaking and arm motion.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Wave of New Dances

The popularity of ' The Twist' and its commercial success encouraged other artists to come up with their own dance craze .

All these new dances were uncomplicated and could be danced without a partner . A sense of freedom had hit the popular dance world. You didn't have to hang on to anyone . You could  ' do your own thing '.

The strong Rock and Roll back beat of The Twist gave way  to Rhythm and Blues  and later Soul. We were prepared to try anything new.

Some dances never took off . But others stuck around for some time.

It inspired me to wear a few more holes into the linoleum.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And Twist Again

Sometimes at home , I would pick up the dog's front legs and Twist in the kitchen singing this song at the top of my lungs , while everyone was out of course.

 Scotty , the dog , didn't seem to mind.  He would wag that big tail of his , do a few steps to keep his balance and pant until there was a puddle of saliva on the linoleum.

Whenever , I started singing , the dog would jump up , put his two paws on my chest and start jigging  his back legs . All ready to dance. I could always count on him. I would have to credit Scotty for my distinct style of twist.

A New Twist on an Old Rhythm

Through most of my young life waltz , square dancing and rock'n'roll dominated dance . Throw in a cha cha and a tango and that covered it.

Then in the early sixties , my pre-teen and new teen years a new twist to the old rhythms  exploded into school yards , school dances and living rooms . It was danced at legion halls , home parties and weddings all over...by everyone...young and old. It was simple , did not require a lot of skill or style. It was the first dance that closed the generation gap for a little while.