Sunday, 28 October 2012


At Pottery Road to try a little nighttime railfanning, mostly just a practice run.  I was hoping to catch a night passing of VIA's Canadian train #1 so a southbound unit near the schedule departure time of #1 had me a bit confused.  The unit numbers were unfortunately missed.

Admittedly, I'm not sure about exactly when the Canadian leaves Union Station or even which route it takes.  As it makes it's first stop in Washago it seems natural it would follow Bala the same way it uses it eastbound, since it would otherwise have to reverse or wye somehow to reach Washago on anything but Bala.  VIA schedule shows departure from Union at 10 PM, Saturday night.  This unit came through at 10:05.  I've seen it several times on arrival eastbound but never ventured to catch a westbound departure.

I did hang around a while to see if VIA would come through but it got progressively colder and less comfortable and I eventually gave up.  Consider this a consolation prize.

The Sony SX63 has it's limitations at night.  Autofocus isn't all that great and the manual focus is difficult to set and get it right since I have to use the touch panel.  Next time I'll prepare focus before venturing out.  Low light is okay, not the best but so much better than cameras I've used in the past.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Catch of the Day - Aug 19

Had to assemble the video for this post and only got to it today.

Up early and headed up the trail to a unique viewing perch high over the Bala line near Northline Drive.  Catching the ONR Northlander northbound.  Not sure which unit was leading, usually it's 1800 for this Sunday run.

After that, scooted over to Wicksteed Avenue to catch CPR units 8807 and 8621 absolutely flying through the level crossing westbound on the Belleville sub.

When shooting at a double track, always stay clear of the open track as you cannot hear anything coming up behind you.  I stayed in line with the barrier for safety.

I later hooked the trails through Crother's Woods up to Pottery Road to see if anything else may chance by on Bala, and a brief stop to peek at the Don Branch rails .  At the northern end, the Don Branch is pretty grown over with fallen trees and other debris scattered around the tracks.  Who knows if Metrolinx will ever really use this section of the line, it would certainly need some extensive cleaning up.  I returned via Crother's Woods on the path closest to the ROW, but nothing was happening on the return trip.  Long run day, 12 or 13 miles of mostly trail.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Railfanningless Run - the Toronto Waterfront Marathon

If you ventured downtown last Sunday (Oct. 14th) you may have noticed the blocked off streets running east and west, particularly Lakeshore Blvd, Eastern Ave, Front St and Queen St E.  It was the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (plus half plus 5k) in progress, the bane of drivers who failed to heed the warnings as they sit fuming watching runner after runner glide on by.

No, I didn't run it.  I used the day for my weekly long run.  I popped down to catch the leaders as they came across Woodbine along Queen on their way along the remaining 5 miles to the finish line.  After watching the leaders make the turn down towards Lakeshore, I hustled my way along Queen in time to catch them again doing a short reverse loop back up the Queen Street and then along Eastern Avenue.  From that point I had no hope of beating them to the finish line since I was just as far as they are and my recreational running 52 y/o self wasn't about to beat the Kenyans who came to town for the prize money.  I did figure I might catch the women leaders at the finish line as they were 15 or so minutes behind the lead men.  I was close, the women leaders rounded to corner to Bay street just as I got to Bay and Front, but they were too fast for me to keep up, especially with the crowds in the area, for the remaining half mile to the finish line.  Stopping to do some cheering along the way and snap phone vids and pics also helped slow me down.

A runner exits under a rail overpass while a westbound VIA rail speeds by.
The highlight for me was catching world reknowned Ed Whitlock from Milton, On., heading towards a 3:30 finish.  Consider that Ed is 81 years old, holder of a multitude of age graded world records, and finished here in the top 15% (407/3248 marathon runners) on this day.  Backtracking the course, I shot a few seconds of video of him on Eastern Ave where it crosses the DVP.  As you can see, the runners are pretty sparse here (as well as the spectators) as the crowds are still half a mile ahead.

There are over 2800 runners behind him here.  Ed will have finished, grabbed some grub and gone through a plethora of interviews before the midpackers even arrive.  Not bad for someone at an age most people would be happy to even achieve, let alone run marathons at times most runners will only ever dream of.

Last year, at a much younger age of 80, Ed ran 3:15 at this event.  I think he finally might be slowing down...just a touch!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Waterloo Central Railway - Oktoberfest Steam Ride

My wife, my daughter and myself headed out to St. Jacobs, Ontario, this afternoon to ride the Waterloo Central Railway's Oktoberfest steam rail train.  The train starts near the University of Waterloo, stops at the St. Jacobs market and continues on to St. Jacobs, then reverses back to Waterloo.  The morning showed some promise of sunshine, which didn't hold up as it was full cloud cover in the K-W area giving a definite fall feeling to the air.

The steamer is Essex Terminal Railway No.9, nicknamed the 'Spirit of Elgin', an ALCO 0-6-0 unit nicely refurbished and working out of St. Jacobs' yards with Waterloo Central.  The WCR has a collection of working units, coaches, assorted cars and other works-in-progress.  This is the pride of the group.

Today's train consisted of No.9 and it's hopper, three passenger coaches including two CN units with the more comfy recliners (daynighters) and an old CP coach with firmer seating, also two cabooses modified for passenger use, and WCR's #1556 diesel switcher unit for assistive power.

Too late to catch it at the start in Waterloo, we boarded at the St. Jacobs farmers market, purchased the tickets onboard and di dthe full loop to St. Jacobs, back to Waterloo, and finally returning to the market.  We chose to sit in the older passenger unit with it's rustic hanging lamps (not working) and sliding windows (working) which granted outside views and photo opts.

The first leg was to St. Jacobs with 1556 leading and No.9 in passive tow.  Upon reaching St. Jacobs' yard, the steamer was detached and prepped for work while the main cars continued on over the Grand River to the northern most point of the trip.  After pushing back into the yard, No.9 was fired up and ready, lashed up and took the lead back to Waterloo.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Nice article on the last run of the Northlander

Written by Liz Cowan on October 2nd for Northern Ontario Business news site, it's a well written reflection on the train, the route and the towns and people along the way: