Thursday, May 2, 2024

Illegitimus non Carborundum

In the spirit of full disclosure, which is part of my mission as a mental health public speaker, I will share that I am once again struggling with my life as it is, mainly due to an ongoing situation in my neighbourhood where my family is still being harassed and intimidated by a local resident. Long story short, our attempts to stop this behaviour through legal means have only met with mixed success and the threat remains. We had to report this individual recently, as he shows no signs of stopping. We are also desperately trying to get the Ottawa Police Service to take ownership of its litany of mistakes (my opinion, not theirs, obviously) in (mis)handling this situation.

That brings me to this blog and my continued efforts to find new and interesting things, or possibly old and interesting things, to share about my love of railways. The title of this post is a nod to the Latin motto of the now defunct Whitehorse Star newspaper, which recently closed its doors after 124 years. The scrappy newspaper's motto roughly translates to You mustn't allow the b@stards to bring you down. I love this scrappy attitude, which seems to be right out of the Klondike era Yukon.

In the spirit of that motto, I am trying not to allow anyone or anyone's failures to prevent me from living my life. It's hard right now, when I have my family's safety on my mind and the everpresent threat from this person, but through counselling, I have been able to deal with stress and anxiety in ways I couldn't a few years ago.

Part of my therapy, quite honestly, has involved going out on Wednesdays, after dropping off my girls at dance class, and sitting trackside. In the last few weeks, I've found some new spots to shoot the evening westbound Train 59 and the eastbound Train 43. It's all therapy and if we all learn something, even better, right?

Milepost 1.63 Smiths Falls Subdivision

I'll start at Milepost 1.63 of the Smiths Falls Subdivision, which is where the tracks cross Merivale Road, one of this area's more notoriously congested arterial routes. It's a throwback to 1960s urban planning when commercial development was grouped together in an endless pattern, with little thought to surrounding neighbourhoods or some sort of natural balance. There are Merivale Roads in every city and Ottawa certainly has its share of similar areas (Hazeldean Road in Kanata, southern Bank Street in Central Ottawa, Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Innes Road in the east end).

The Merivale level crossing marks the point where the commercial properties end and the residential areas re-emerge. It's a crossing that has a wide sidewalk on the west side of the road, with clear sight lines down the arrow straight stretch of track. Two weeks ago, I took a few pictures of Train 59, just to see if this crossing had anything interesting for visual purposes.

I framed the train to the left of this shot because I wanted to capture the symmetry of the power lines to the right. That overpass in the background is the Hunt Club Road overpass, where I have taken a number of railway pictures in the past few years.

Here's a shot (above) at the Merivale crossing itself. F40PH-2 6432 leads a four-car LRC consist east toward Fallowfield Station, which is situated just past the next level crossing at Woodroffe Avenue, to the west of this spot. You can see the petroleum storage tanks at Eastway Tank to the left of the crossing signals. To the right, you can see a residential neighbourhood. This spot really is the dividing line between commercial and residential areas in this part of the old Nepean.

I waited around for Train 43 eastbound, which is scheduled to come through this area around 6:48 each evening, if it isn't running late. Lucky for me, it was on time, which meant I could catch a shot of it running eastbound. Given the shadows cast by the buildings next to the track, I had to wait until the train emerged into a sunny pocket to get this shot. Note the last car in this six-car consist. One of these things is not like the other things.

Here's a closer shot nearer to the crossing. Note the shadows from the buildings on nearby Capital Drive. You can make out the new Via scheme, the old blue-and-yellow scheme and a wrap, if you look closely.

I'm not sure why an old HEP car was added onto the end of this train, but it made for a nice little surprise. I don't think we'll see too much more of this variety in the corridor. 

So that was my late April adventure at a new spot. I'm not sure I will return to this crossing, as I don't see many opportunities for new shots, but it's always fun to capture images of places in the city that I haven't documented before. This level crossing is at an interesting spot. It is worth a try, if you are a local train enthusiast and are looking for something new.

This past week, I returned to the Rideau River bridge, to get a new angle I hadn't tried yet. I will share those images in the weeks to come. 

These Wednesdays have been therapeutic for me, because they give me an evening away from my house and allow me to be free of household concerns and chores for a few hours. I'm sure I'll grow tired of taking shots of the same train at some point, but I have already identified two new vantage points I'd like to capture in the weeks to come, so I'm hoping to continue my efforts to find new ways to capture railway images in Ottawa.

Even if I don't come up with anything new, just being trackside seems to be enough for me right now. 


Canadian Train Geek said...

I'm sorry you and your family are still going through this, Michael. It must be so frustrating.

Trackside time is therapy time for me too. I love the peacefulness, the anticipation, the solitude. Even if no trains show up, it isn't wasted time.

You had a nice variety of photos of the two VIA trains. I quite liked the one with the train in the crossing. Lots going on.

DaveM said...

Sorry to hear that neighbour is still misbehaving.

Depending on how much time you have, you could also try going to the east bank of the Rideau River where the tracks cross over. It is about a 5 to 10 minute peaceful hike to get in.

You will also stumble across a bit of history as well (for the background you can search up Hunt Club Creek History to get a decent amount of details).


Eric said...

Hi Michael,

Why do some people act the way they do? What would we do if we didn't have some diversion away from them?

The cavemen had it much better with their human foes. They could just bash their foe's head in with a large rock. Or wait until a dinosaur came along and stepped on their foe. Or perhaps the foe would be eaten by a T. rex with those tiny, short arms grabbing them. I'm glad we don't have those tiny, short arms because we wouldn't be able to hold our cameras and phones when trackside. I've come full circle here, ending with an attitude of gratitude like the one I know you have.

I hope that at the right time, your conflict with your neighbour will be resolved, but that you'll still be able to share these blog posts, your photos, and your leisure activity with us.

Strength to you and to your family, Michael.

Michael said...

Thank you gentlemen. It's been a weird week for sure, even for the new normal my family is living with at the moment. I will share more Wednesday evening adventures in the weeks ahead, but I think maybe it's time to diversify a bit and cover other topics! Thank goodness I have a few trips coming up, which will give me time to take photos of something other than Via Train 59.