Some members of the Circle and
a field trip to Brockville, August 2009
ObjectivesTo create a clearing house for research being done on railway subjects in the Ottawa area by:
(1) identifying researchers carrying out such research,
(2) identifying the subjects being researched, and
(3) reporting progress being made on such projects.
By so doing it is hoped that duplication of effort will be minimized, researchers will benefit from the work of others, and researchers not already on the link-up may become aware of what is being done.
Membership in the Ottawa Railway History Circle is by invitation only. It is available for those, with e-mail access, who can satisfy the members that they:The Findings of the Circle contain a great amount of detail on Ottawa Railway History
Have actively studied Ottawa railway history, usually through the publication of articles, books or presentations, or;
Have an intimate knowledge of the subject and are willing to share this knowledge, or;
Have a desire to study the subject and wish to learn more through active involvement in the Circle’s activities.
Some Articles written by our members are shown here
Guidelines for Posting Messages
Regular lunch meetings are held every other Wednesday
Extra lunches (known as White Flag lunches) or dinners will be arranged to suit out of town members.
Gerald (Gerry) Gaugl
William (Bill) Naftel
I am also interested in the history of CP's Maniwaki Sub for which I have done quite a bit of research, although not too recently. This interest comes from many years spent at the family cottage at Blue Sea Lake watching the passenger trains pass through the village of Messines.
I enjoyed Colin's account of the history of the Thurso and Nation Valley Railway which has spurred my interest in what can be found about other logging railways that were built up the Ottawa River Valley (primarily, I think in what is now Algonquin Park). This could make an interesting and perhaps challenging research project. For example, there was the McCauley Central near Barrys' Bay which was owned by JR Booth and connected to his Ottawa Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway. There were others farther west but I don't recall any names. Anyone interested?
Derek Boles is one of the founding members of the Toronto Railway Historical Association and has written and lectured extensively on Toronto's railway heritage. He coordinated the annual Doors Open event at Union Station and led popular monthly tours of the station. He was on the board of Heritage Toronto and was the last chair of the Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group. Derek is the chief historian for the Toronto Railway Museum and his book, “Toronto’s Railway Heritage” was released by Arcadia Publishing in 2009.
Following the publication of Quebec Central Railway in 2006 and the revised and updated edition of Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume II in 2008, I’m now working on a historical novel based on the daily diary of a Canadian soldier in World War I. While this is a major departure from what I’ve done before, the book does contain a good deal of railway history in the form of descriptions of train journeys in
Canada, Englandand during and after the war. And it has given me a reason to log many rail miles along all of the routes concerned on both sides of the France Atlantic.
I am a dreamer. I dream about time travel back to an age when the railways were at their peak in the Ottawa area but more specifically Aylmer, Quebec.
Since I haven't figured out a technical solution to time travel I am following the path of research and modelling of former railways. I love to talk to people who have experienced life on the rails, whether they were passengers or workers on the railways. I also love to look at pictures from days gone by and study the many changes that have taken place over time. I am keen on actually setting foot on some of these locations in order to imagine what life was like before my time.
This feeds into the modelling, currently in HO Scale, of past Aylmer scenes when the train passed my house at least 4 times a day. Current projects also include modelling a future rail line to Aylmer (and perhaps beyond) from Gatineau, Hull and Ottawa.
P.S. some people call me the Aylmer Train Nut.Bruce Chapman
Bruce Chapman dispatching at Smiths Falls, Victoria Day weekend May 1972My interest has pretty well been the CP in Ottawa.
My uncle (my father’s brother) was an engineer out of Ottawa West, and he took me down to Ottawa West station about March 1953 when I was 7 years old. I gathered up the train order hoops that the operators had left lying in the snow, as the local kids would come and steal them as they lay there, and make fishing nets out of them and use them in the nearby Nepean Bay.
I started with CP Telegraphs/telegrams on July 3rd, 1962 in the Blackburn Building at Metcalfe and Sparks as a ‘check clerk’ whose duty was to gather up telegrams from different points and distribute them to the proper teletype machine operator.
I started as a train order operator at Ottawa West on January 1st, 1965, train dispatcher in Smiths Falls on January 17th, 1969, to Montreal as a locomotive manager August 17th, 1974, and retired from that job on August 12th, 2001 when all the jobs got transferred to Calgary.
I have defined my study area as being bounded by Waltham, Maniwaki, Marelan, Rigaud, Coteau, Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville, Kingston, Tichborne, Sharbot Lake and Whitney.
Other projects currently under way are:
- a thorough review of the Merrilees photo collection in the National Archives (some 339,000 images).
- preparing a database of all pictures identified in my study area.
- preparing a database of all railway plans found relating to the study area.
- cataloguing the Aubrey Mattingly picture collection housed in the Canada Science and Technolgy Museum.
- reviewing the local papers and extracting all local items into a database.
- working with others on the preparation of manuscript on the Ottawa and New York Railway (New York Central)
- preparing a manuscript on the history of the railways of the National Capital Area
- completing a data base and then preparing a manuscript on industrial locomotives in Canada other than BC (BC has already been covered by Mervyn T. Green). This covers locomotives before 1990 (since 1990, the Canadian Trackside Guide by the Bytown Railway Society, is a useful reference for industrials).
Map files are avaliable free here:
Ontario - http://ontariomap.webs.com/
Quebec - http://quebecrailwaymap.webs.
All Canadian electric systems - www.cermc.webs.com
Areas that I have an interest in and have collected some information on include:
Ottawa Valleyborn and raised ‘railfan’, and a resident of the City of since 1971. I think of myself mainly as a photo archivist of all things railway related, with the historical aspect of my photography an important element in my image-making philosophy. Ottawa
In the early '80s as my chosen career path led me away from the business of railroading I became serious about having an arm’s-length relationship with the industry in the form of a hobby. I used the good will of an established family name (there were three career railroaders in my family) to introduce myself to those who worked in the business. It has served me well over the years. I am comfortable around train operations and employees at the local level are accepting of my presence. Over the years I have been told by several of the running trades that they think of me as one of their own. For me no greater compliment can be paid by those who serve.
Even though I have benefited handsomely from my position of acceptance, for a time I felt that I had arrived at the party too late for my images to have much historical value. Much of the steam-era architecture surrounding railway operations (stations included) had been removed leaving the right-of-ways appearing relatively barren. Then the focus on short line creation and leasing hit the industry, and with it came photographic diversification like we had not seen in Eastern Ontario and
Western Quebecsince the early days of dieselization. I was fortunate to find myself in a position to photograph a wonderful cross-section of this spin-off activity.
As the short line era began to whither here in
Eastern Canadawith companies such as the Ottawa Central disappearing entirely, images from the previous 10 or so years now became more historically important. Soon a downturn in the world economy resulted in the re-evaluation of regional leasing operations, ultimately leading to the demise of lines of railway such as the Chalk River Subdivision and a portion of the North Bay Subdivision east of . The seemingly unimaginable was occurring right before my eyes, making the removal of trackside structures in the '60s and '70s appear secondary compared to the actual dismantlement of the lines of railway themselves. Suddenly pictures of operations on these impacted subdivisions, along with those taken of the Beachburg Subdivision prior to its dismantlement through Mattawa ON in 1996-97, took on a whole new sense of historical importance, and I was there to record the final 'curtain call'. Algonquin Park
Over the past 30 years I have done my best to record the changing face of contemporary railroading here in the Ottawa Valley so that future railfans and historians might look at what once was and dream of what could have been had more favourable circumstances prevailed.
I am pleased to be a member of a collective known as the
Ottawa Railway History Circle.
- Ottawa, Hull and Kingston Streetcars
- Rail lines around Kingston
- the NYC line to Cornwall
- the "plank" railroad from the nearby quarry to Hogs Back used to build the canal/dam around 1829
- lines into and around the Uplands Airport
I also have some experience with the National Air Photo Library at 615 Booth St. which is an amazing source of aerial photographs of much of Canada from the 1930's onwards. These photos often show lines, rights of way, yards and railcars. In some Ottawa series you can see the streetcars moving along the street from frame to frame as the plane flew over!
While I currently live in British Columbia, I had the good fortune to grow up in Ottawa, which explains my interest in railways of the area. While researching is, needless to say, difficult from this distance, I do manage to steal the
I grew up above the CPR telegraph in Perth, leading to a life long fascination with communications technology and networks. Hanging around the station in the steam era pretty much sealed the deal. Travelling by tyrain, modelling, study and collecting railroadiana have been lifelong pursuits.
Now living in Arnprior, I undertook as a volunteer at the Arnprior & Braeside/McNabb Archives the development of a presentation to commemorate the sesqui-centennial of the arrival Brockville and Ottawa's arrival in our town in 1864. The presentation used maps I drew to illustrate the development of regional steamboat and railway networks. Out of that grew my book, Tracing the Lines, Eastern Ontario & West Quebec Railway History in Maps, available as a free download from the Archives' web site.
Current particular interests are the Brockville & Ottawa, Canada Central and Temiscouata Railway and the history of the CPR car shops in Perth.
odd day in archives or museums when I go home to visit my family. My interest is focused on the Canada Atlantic Railway, its subsidiaries and leased lines. I have been researching this line since 1988 and have accumulated a reasonable, but by no means complete body of information. I have put some of this on my home page at http://www.proto87.org
-CNR: McGiveny Junction, NB (great-grandfather on father's side in the late 1920s)
-CPR: Ottawa area (great-uncle on father's side)
-GTR: Aultsville (great-great-uncle on mother's side, whom took employment a year later with...)
-O&NYR/NYC: Crysler, Newington, Cornwall Junction and Cornwall (on mother's side, great-great-grandfather; great-great-uncle and great-grandfather)
Needless to say, my main focus is on the NYC's Ottawa Division and I am currently involved in extensive research with Colin Churcher and Tony Burges, as well as help from Douglas Smith in hopes to publish a book. Also involved on this subject is my work with Heritage Cornwall (the city's LACAC) in raising of a swing wheel from the St. Lawrence River, an artifact from the 1908 bridge/canal accident. One of the side projects I am
involved in is expanding the extremely thin railway history files that now exist in the Cornwall History Room. This will involve railways as far west as the K&P, eastwards into Montreal, as far north as the QMO&O and southwards into the States to the Rutland's Ogdensburg line, all focussed on the basic important dates and events as well as what remains today of the lines encompassed in that area. I have also been writing articles, one was printed in Branchline, while others have been and continue to be featured on the Cornwall LACAC web site.
My key areas of interest revolve around the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway, in particular the entirety of the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal line including the former Federal terminals and the L'Orignal Subdivision. Due to the early dates of abandonment of the various lines and structures, information has been particularly hard to come by, making it all the more rewarding to find.
My research mainly includes the study of aerial photographs (found at the National Air Photo Library), survey plans, topographical maps and employee timetables as well as some very basic archaeological poking about in the bush looking for old foundations and trackbeds.
There are several things that I have not yet found in my on again-off again pursuit that I eventually hope to come across. These include plans and photographs of the Federal roundhouse, as well as photographs of other stations and structures on the Toronto-Deseronto and Ottawa-Hawkesbury stretches of the CNoR.
Beyond satisfying my own personal thirst for knowledge, I hope to bring to the group certain gems of information that would have otherwise been left unnoticed. This will be accomplished by taking a different angle and venturing into the "brave old world" of survey plans and land ownership records. This should be valuable in explaining the whats, whens and hows of major changes in the railway landscape over the past few decades.
I have been interested in local railway history since childhood, growing up along the CN Kingston Subdivision in Brockville and spending my summers on Prince Edward Island in the old family home. My earliest memories are of steam locomotives being serviced, thanks to my grandmother who wheeled me to the Brockville station in my stroller almost every day. These vivid memories, reinforced by frequent encounters with CN's excursion steamers and CN's Prince Edward Island mixed trains and wayfreights, led me into a lifelong obsession with rail preservation and history. I have volunteered with the BRS steam crew, Smiths Falls Railway Museum, and train operations with the Salem & Hillsborough Railway. My favourite research subject is the Prince Edward Island Railway, but I am very interested in the CN's former Brockville & Westport and Grand Trunk properties and railroading in general. My interests are the rail lines of eastern Ontario western Quebec - roughly in accordance with Colin Churcher.
- Of strong interest are the CPR Brockville Subdivision, the CPR Prescott Subdivision, the Brockville and Westport Railway and the GTR/CNR trackage which was removed during the St. LawrenceSeaway project.
- I have secondary interest in the rail plant in and around Belleville, GTR line relocations between Trenton and Toronto.
- I have tertiary interest in the CNoR - especially the L'Orignal Subdivision and would love to see examples (photos) of track plant from the various stations on that pike.
My interest in railway history has led me into the perils and pleasures of graduate school. I'm currently completing an M.A. in Canadian Studies at Carleton University, with a focus on Canadian railway heritage. I'm interested in studying the effects of railways on the landscape, in a purely geomorphological sense as well as in the obvious economic, social and political senses.
I've lived most of my life in Ottawa, but my interest in the history of the city's railway lines often takes me to a place that disappeared long before I was born, a place I can only experience through old photos, documents and the shared recollections of those who were there to see things firsthand.
My many current research interests include the development of Walkley Yard, the history of railway station preservation in Canada, and the history of passenger train service into and out of Ottawa from the 1850s to the present day. In addition to the Circle, I'm also a member of the CN Lines Special Interest Group, the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders, and yes, the Ottawa Valley HOTrak modular model railroad club.
My specific interest areas are
- Union Station, from its building in 1912, as Grand Trunk Central Station, to its closure in 1966.
- The 1960s railway relocation program, particularly the excavation of the Dows Lake Tunnel and the rock cut to Ottawa West.
- The CTC signalling system created in 1967.
My research interests range fairly widely often being sparked by the inquiries we receive. However, more specifically:
1. Historiography. i.e. the history of Canadian railway history.
2. The development of Canadian railway management.
3. Ottawa Car Co. the manufacturer.
4. Main line electrification
5. The Bytown and Prescott Railway and its successors.
6. Railway heralds
I was born and raised in Ottawa, and have many happy memories of my dad taking my brother and I to watch trains, mainly at the Walkley yard, and at Ridge Road (while the 417 was being constructed). It was there that we watched the "Turbo Train" come to Ottawa.We'd also take walks on little-used lines, such as the Prescott subdivision, or the old New York Central right-of-way (where I recall seeing an abandoned passenger car).
After I got hired by the federal government, my bike route took me over the Prescott subdivision, near today's Southkeys transit station. I'd try to time my trips to coincide with lumber trains heading south. It was only when the line was closed in 1997 that I realized the railway tracks of my childhood were disappearing. Since then, I've tried to learn the story behind the lines that ran into Ottawa. I'm also quick to point out the location of long-forgotten tracks to my kids, and anyone else who will listen.From the Bay of Fundy to the Pacific Coast, Bill Linley has been photographing and writing about trains for over fifty years. He was introduced to train watching by his father in his native Toronto in the early 1950s and began photographing trains on the Quebec Central in 1959 while living in Ste Foy, Quebec.
Bill shot the first of some 100,000 colour slides in April 1962 with a photograph of the Canadian Pacific’s Ottawa West Station. He began to focus on the CPR and particularly on the changes to railways in the Ottawa region, which he photographed extensively until 1970.
While studying geography at Carleton University, Bill worked as a message router at the Sparks Street Office of Canadian Pacific Telegraphs. He later worked as a reservations clerk and ticket agent for the CPR at Ottawa Union Station selling their train travel experience. Bill made trips across Canada in the late 1960s trying to catch the last of traditional railway operations in PEI, Newfoundland and British Columbia. Always a fan of MLW/Alco locomotives, he pursued these engines far and wide, notably the FPA-4s on VIA in the 1980s.
Following graduation from Carleton University in May 1969, Bill began a 33-year career in economic development with the governments of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. His career took him across Canada where he often managed to photograph trains in the off-hours. He moved to Fredericton and Halifax where he was a director and oft-times treasurer of church and volunteer organizations.
For a dozen years he owned CN caboose 79510 and a boxcar that continue to welcome guests as part of the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. The caboose and a boxcar were re-modelled to provide first-class guest accommodation for persons seeking a unique railway experience. In 2009, Bill was featured as a waiter in the Train Station Inn’s dining car in an episode of CBC TV’s serial The Week the Women Went.
Morning Sun Books published his first book: Canadian Pacific in Color: Volume 1 – Eastern Lines in 2003 and it sold out in 2008. He has recently released the sequel, Canadian Pacific in Color Volume 2, Western Lines. Bill describes the period 1948 through 1968 when steam engines gave way to diesels across the country.
His photos and writing have appeared in a variety of magazines in Canada and internationally. As well, he is keen to contribute to the work of others engaged in the preservation of railway and industrial heritage. In 2002 he completed a brochure and contributed the text and photographs for an award-winning website on railway heritage for the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society of which he was a founding director. He recently stepped down as a director and treasurer of the Orangedale Station Association that owns and operates Nova Scotia's oldest railway station.
Current interests include completing another book for Morning Sun and cataloguing thousands of his colour slides and digital images taken over more than fifty years. As well, he serves on the Finance and Investment Committee of Pine Hill Divinity Hall in Halifax and is actively involved in the rejuvenation of Fundy Hall, a former Temperance Society facility, in Port Lorne, Nova Scotia.
For over thirty years he has operated a home-based business, Signal Graphics, which deals in quality Canadian railway books, DVDs and images. He and his wife, Marilynn, live in the historic Captain John G. Charlton house in Port Lorne on the Bay of Fundy near the Dominion Atlantic Railway.
Bill Linley, Port Lorne, Nova Scotia firstname.lastname@example.org
My Name is Rian (pronounced Ryan) Manson. I have lived in Smiths Falls all my life. I was fortunate to belong to a family of railroaders. The stories and trips with my uncle to the CPR yard in the late 80’s in my PJ's and slippers introduced the affairs of iron and steel into my blood. It was only a matter of time that I began volunteering at the Smiths Falls Railway Museum and eventually met Steve Hunter and Bob Moore who influenced me to start documenting my railway interests. To simplify the aforementioned railway interests, I have narrowed them into three categories:
1) Railways in Smiths Falls (The entire spectrum) B&O, O&Q, and the CNoR, stories, pictures, employees, unions, and train operations.
2) The Canadian Northern (CNoR) in Canada, and the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway (CNoOR). My CNoOR interest is the Smiths Falls Subdivision which is an elusive line to research.
3) The Kingston & Pembroke Railway.
My interest is the “Movers & Shakers” of the railway line and the physical growth and decline of the railway. My purpose is to eventually, perhaps put out a publication on Smiths Falls’ railway heritage. I also have a motivation to educate our youth in the importance of their railway cultural heritage.
I grew up in a railway family in Stratford Ontario where Canadian National had arguably its best steam locomotive repair shops. My great uncle, both grandfathers, uncle, father, and cousin all worked in the "shops". It was
assumed that I would join them but the end of steam came as I was in high school. With a pass to ride trains, I was fortunate to go with my Dad often for trips to such places as Toronto, Chicago, New York, and Detroit. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1964 with a degree in mathematics, I became a computer programmer. Some of my first work was with a transportation consultant in Toronto. Some of that work was part of a study showing that GO Transit was a good idea.
My main interest to this day is travelling on trains. I have been fortunate to ride every railway line in Canada that has passenger service including the Quebec, North Shore, and Labrador. In other years, I have travelled
around the world to ride trains in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Photography was incidental to the thrill of travel. A souvenir rather than a goal.
I came late to historical research and have only recently found myself becoming more interested in historic lines. It was a thrill to find in a nineteen-forties "Railroad Magazine" in the Bob Craig Memorial Library, that a line had actually been surveyed from the area around Rouyn-Noranda to Maniwaki - a line that had the potential to make "our" Maniwaki route as heavy-duty as the Quebec, North Shore and Labrador. It is gems like this (often uncovered by members of the Circle) that make this hobby so fascinating.
I was born and raised on Drolet Street in Montreal, and at ten years of age, my family moved to Ottawa. My father was very supportive of my introduction to Railroading, in the late 40s and early 50s. Later I was off on my own seeing, hearing and in other ways, other than being employed by any railroad; experiencing the railroad industry. I can safely say that I have been able to ride the "Front end and/or the tail end" in every province in Canada except Newfoundland, and the Yukon but including Vancouver Island.
I have never taken a picture that I felt was worth showing to anyone, but I have made a point of enjoying the company of people that make the railroads work, and remembering a lot of their tales, and experiences. My grandfather was a foreman, in charge of the exterior/interior decoration of the original Ottawa Union Station when it was built, and have in my possession a momento of his work, from the official opening.
I hope that I will be able to join in discussions of the history of railroading in our area, and be supportive of it, through research and preservation.
I first arrived in Ottawa just as the Greber plan's railway removal and relocation recommendations were implemented, and was able to follow much of the subsequent decomposition of Ottawa as a railway hub. In my interest on railways in the Ottawa area, I have explored many miles of the former Canadian Northern, NewYork Central, and Ottawa, Arnprior & Perry Sound rights of-way, and photographed many of their residual structures.
My training as a civil engineer had aroused an interest in railway construction, with particular interest in bridges, while a long time membership in CRHA has encourage my historical interests in Canadian railways generally, and in the Grand Trunk Pacific (which has also been a modelling interest). Membership in the ORHC allows me to refine and further develop these interests in conjunction with others having related interests.William (Bill) NaftelThose Ottawa years were, in my fond and rosy recollection, the glory years, 1967 Centennial, a truly exciting event in a burgeoning city, and me with my 1966 Corvair Corsa 140 hp with 4 carbs, two of which cut in when you floored the accelerator. And gasoline at 35 cents a gallon during a price war.
And above all, the BRS. It all started working with Duncan Dufresne on Saturday mornings on the locomotives at the Science Museum. Then that morphed into the actualization of the proposal to first of all lease 1057, and then later, pull 1201, that most elegant and aesthetic of locomotive designs, out of its slumber in the museum, and run them under steam up to Chelsea. I will never forget the day they broke down the concrete block wall of the engine hall, and slowly, ever so slowly 1201 moved out into the light of day on temporary track. Under Duncan's direction we had fussed over her for weeks, probably mostly cosmetics on my part, with the serious stuff left to Duncan and John Corby. But I seem to remember a lot of grease. What a team they were and it amazes me now that they could sell the idea to the NCC. There is simply not the imagination now to do such a thing and if there were, legions of bureaucrats, lawyers and insurance executives would crush it and stomp on the quivering fragments.
To cap it all, BRS, and among them me, formed an engine crew who cleaned, polished, fussed over the engines, got up at 5 AM or so on a Saturday morning to go down to the museum, and gingerly start a fire in the boiler to heat things up for the weekend runs. I even wrote up a manual on what had to be done and how we were to do it. Oh the thrill when after an eternity, the water in the boiler first started to hum and the needle on the steam gauge began to twitch, the first tendrils of steam started to appear here and there and then, with the turn of a handle, the high whine of the generator begins to build, and with the pull of a lever, just the right touch, start topping up the boiler. Then, of course, the pros moved in and the CPR crew took over. I can hardly believe that I ever did such a thing and if the photo has survived the e-mail process, Ye Gods, you will see that we were practically children. I am standing at the top, and I am aghast at the wreck which time and gracity have wrought upon that youth.
If we were very, very good, a compliant fireman would allow you to fire 1057 as she started up the grade out of Hull. It is a magnificent feeling to first of all, in the quiet dawn of a Saturday morning, feel this wonderful machine slowly come alive with little creaks and groans, and then a purring hum and then, to be on the footplate when a locomotive hits the beginning of a grade. The throbbing urgency of stack, pistons, compressors, drivers all combine in a sensory experience of the lump in the throat kind, overload really, that has vanished from any human experience. It has been described many times before and it is all true. And in those halcyon days, the route up to Chelsea was lined at every crossing, all the time, with happy, smiling, faces, waving frantically and motioning the engineer to blow the whistle, Whatever happened there. It was clearly a simpler time.
As if that were not enough, in the early years, 1057 and its coaches would go back to Toronto for the winter. Empty. Under steam. No problem. But if you wanted to show up at the museum when she was heading back, well, just hop on, but bring your own lunch. What an experience, streaming across the Ontario countryside behind an immaculate D 10 under steam pulling immaculate tuscan red, clerestory roofed coaches on a crisp autumn day in what was essentially a private train. And I confess a childish glee at the open mouthed astonishment of motorists confronted with this out-of-time, out-of-place vision.
It is all a fantasy now to the extent that some people probably would not believe you could possibly be telling the truth, or at best were off your medications.
Anyway, reminiscences of how simple things seemed to be at one time are probably considered dangerous in some quarters and it may be necessary that I be sent off to a political reeducation camp if I say anything more.
The Ballad of Wristpin Bill
A little background on my interest in the Canada Atlantic Railway system is as follows. It all started when my wife bought me a book for christmas (many moons ago) called "Over the Hills to Georgian Bay". I found this book to be an interesting read as it also was about logging in Ontario (another interest) and thought it would make an interesting subject to model. The more I found out about the line the more interested I became in it. It has now turned into a project on its own. At first my research was only in the OA& PS portion of the line. It has now expanded into the entire Canada Atlantic Railway and JR Booth other logging lines and JR Booth himself.
I'm interested in the history of Railways of Eastern Ontario . My website address is
I am interested in the history of the small railway lines in Eastern Ontario - before they were swallowed up by
Canadian National or Canadian Pacific. My objective is to have a site that not only informs but also entertains. This includes lots of historical photos and maps of the specific railway lines, timetables, the shares and
bonds that they issued. My personal goals are two-fold - to learn about railway history and to learn about Internet technology. For the moment, I am concentrating on the Brockville & Westport, and to a lesser extent, on
the Brockville and Ottawa, the Bytown and Prescott. We'll add more railway lines to our website as time and motivation permits.
Railways have played a large role in the creation of Canada. Uncovering this history is lots of fun and exciting. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be doing it. Each discovery answers a question about who, when, and why. But it also raises more questions - like who were the promoters, why did the line go bankrupt? I've had fun travelling the highways and byways of Eastern Ontario visiting local libraries and museums, talking to the people who remember when they took the train to go to school. I' ve been fortunate in obtaining a lot of information from these people and from the official sources like the National Archives and the Archives of Ontario. So, our objective is to arrange this material in a way that will tell the story of our local railway lines, and publish it on the Internet so that others can share in my enjoyment of the history of the Railways of Eastern Ontario.
Like most of the crowd, I grew up near a rail line (well actually two - CN and CP served my home town). Almost everyday my father received express shipments on the Maritime Express and until I started school, I often went with him. Out of these trips came a fascination which remains to the present with passenger trains and their equipment and railway stations.
I also am very interested in the reasons why things happen - most rail historians are nuts and bolts type, i.e. a rail line was built to town X in 18xx or a locomotive was delivered in 19xx. I am much more interested in why the railway went to town X, the changes in technology which made the locomotive purchase a good thing, and why the railway choose to make the purchase.
Given the interest in passenger trains, my side interest in interurban lines is probably understandable.
CNR steam and GRR-LE&N trolleys left a big impression on me growing up on Ottawa Street in Kitchener. A move to Montreal’s west island opened up the world of main-line and big-city railroading. Steam and diesel excursions brought me into contact with the organized rail fan community and their publications revealed fascinating episodes and developments in railway history. I came to Ottawa as the massive rail relocation project was changing the landscape dramatically. My interest in train operations, timetables and rules got me curious about the regulatory framework and railway legislation. A trial balloon sent to Transport Canada led to a contract to revise the department’s statutory history of railway companies. When rail passenger services appeared to be headed toward extinction, I became active in the formation of Transport 2000 and in its early campaigns. I enjoy going to source material for information of all kinds about railways past and present. The ORHC is a great forum for the collection and sharing of suchinformation in relation to this part of Canada.
I have been interested in trains ever since I can remember. I have lived in Ottawa most of my life and being born in the early 50s, experienced the dismantling of rail in the area. I recall vividly leaving on trains with my mother from the old Union Station and riding on streetcars. I do recall seeing the Ottawa West yards and roundhouse near the end of their lives in the mid-60s, as I rode by on the number 52 bus to Carlingwood, and I remember visiting the coal sheds that lined the hill near Mann Ave with my Dad. Unfortunately, during those early years, I was too young to have a camera and take photos. My earliest photos are in 1967, taken with a Brownie, of the tracks of Union Station just after it closed, and then of the museum train as it arrived at the former Morrison Lamothe Bakery, now the Museum of Science and Technology, bringing several of the locomotives now in residence there. I was, and am again, an avid model railroader, interested in particular in prototype modelling of the CNR and CPR branchlines that once radiated out of Ottawa. Since retirement in 2009 from a busy career in Research and Development, I have combined my interests in railroads, local history, and cycling, and have cycled parts or all of the rail trails that line the former railway spokes out of Ottawa and the surrounding area, such as the Maniwaki, Waltham, Carleton Place, K&P and M&O subs of the CPR and the Cataraqui sub of the CNR. I love trying to imagine what was there and in some cases finding traces of what existed. I have been reading online, following fora, and participating in the Bytown Railway Society to learn as much as I can about railway infrastructure and operations in the area and I am excited about joining the Ottawa Railway Circle to contribute and to learn more.I was born in Montreal, and lived there until I was 5. My parents and grandparents often took me everywhere on the transit system, which still had streetcars (until 1959) and trolleybuses (until 1966). I suppose that’s how “the bug” bit me. We moved to Ottawa in 1959 when my dad joined the RCAF; he later was posted to Germany, Winnipeg (I was on its last trolleybus in 1970), and back to Ottawa. Everywhere we went, I followed the rail and transit scene, but was always far more interested in electrics than steam or diesel.
I'm a member of Bytown Railway Society, OVAR, CRHA, and Transport Action (formerly Transport 2000). In the 1980s I and 2 others published Transit News Canada magazine. When traveling, most often to Calgary nowadays, I keep a keen eye to rail and transit. My travels have also included Montreal, GTHA, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver. My special interest is Montreal’s Mount Royal Tunnel, on which I have given a presentation to BRS and OVAR. That included my experiences on the day of the last runs of the old trains June 2, 1995.
I've spent my whole life in the company of trains. I'm a second generation railroader, being the son of a Lieutenant in the CN Police Department. My father joined the railway the year that I was born and as a result of my father's career, I grew up next to the tracks in such railway towns as Jellicoe, Stratford, Fort Erie and Hornepayne.
I'm a career railroader, joining CN in 1969. I held unionized positions such Crew Dispatcher, Engine Watchman/Hostler and Train Order Operator. Having acquired that grounding, I moved into management working in the Personal and Labour Relations Department in Montreal and Toronto. I found I wasn't getting enough exposure to trains, so I went through CN's Operations Training program and worked as a Trainmaster in Capreol, Toronto Union Station, Don Yard, Sarnia and Fort Erie. I later became Manager Special Projects, working on projects such as the new St. Clair Tunnel in Sarnia. My final position at CN was Director of Interline Management, where I was involved initially in network rationalization studies and then in the creation and sale of 20 of CN's partner short lines in Canada and the United States. I retired from CN at the end of 2000 and accepted a position as Vice President of Trillium Railway, operating short lines in the Niagara Peninsula and south western Ontario.
I've enjoyed collecting railway antiques along the way, ranging from Dining Car China all the way up to a Track Motor Car. I'm a relative new comer to Ottawa having moved here after I retired from Trillium in 2009. Since coming to Ottawa I have been on the Board of Directors for the Bytown Railway Society and a member of Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders. My interests include modelling in HO and I have an extensive railway photo collection.
This Page Updated 5 September 2017