Tuesday, April 30, 2013

All Aboard: Welcome to The Beachburg Sub

Thanks for dropping by. First, a few things to mention as a primer. I am a lifelong railway fan. My grandfather worked for the Canadian Pacific as a rolling stock mechanic in Chapleau, Ont. and Windsor, Ont. for 40 years. My other grandfather worked for the Canadian Pacific as a general labourer in the Crowsnest Pass area in the 1950s. More on these two will come in later posts. I should also mention that three of my uncles worked on the railway as well as my father. My cousin currently works for the Canadian National. So, I come by my fascination with railways honestly.

A quick word on the title. The Beachburg Sub is a dormant subdivision (pictured right, at Corkstown Road in Ottawa) that is still technically part of the Canadian National Railway system in Ottawa, as of April 2013. It branches off from the CN system through the northwestern part of the city before crossing over the Ottawa River into Quebec and back again into Ontario where it dead ends at a spot called Beachburg, southeast of Pembroke. I am a freelance journalist and have written about this line, which was in the process of being reacquired, with help from the management of the former Ottawa Central Railway. The OCR once ran along this line before the shortline was absorbed back into CN.

However, as you can read for yourself, efforts to revive the line have in all likelihood failed and the rail is being pulled up. With the disappearance of this line, Ottawa's rail network will shrink ever smaller. Given that the city is planning to build new railway lines for its commuter rail ambitions, it seems as though there is always an opportunity lost when railway lines are scrapped.

I digress.

I have lots of railway photos from my teenage years that I want to share with fellow rail enthusiasts. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on the specifics of railway operations and equipment. There are plenty of experts out there who know far more than me, so I do not intend to emulate their blogs. I just recently rediscovered my passion for trains and am slowly relearning all that I once took for granted.

Many of my pictures are from southwestern Ontario, where I grew up, although I have recently begun to take photos here in Ottawa, wherever trains actually still operate. The quality of some of the early photos isn't great, but I have to credit Eric Gagnon of the Trackside Treasure blog, who mentioned that it's also important that I was there to chronicle my experiences when I did.

This will not be a daily blog. It's much more likely that it will be weekly. I want to put some serious thought into how I am going to present my photos and tell my stories (hey, I am a longtime journalist so it's nice to write without a deadline!).

I encourage all sorts of feedback and comments. I really do want to learn from fellow rail enthusiasts, so feel free to contact me.