Friday, May 26, 2017

Banff Springs Hotel Golf Course - circa 1950


To the best of my knowledge, my father never tried golf, but he was conscientious about picking up and preserving interesting documents related to railways - particularly the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Given the document code on this folder about the Banff Golf Course, I am guessing the prices were effective in 1949 and that the photos and text were put together a few years before that, especially ... 

'It has five radio-active springs ... '

Bathing in radioactive springs seems undesirable today. Radioactive patent medicines for internal consumption were sometimes advertised as health-promoting supplements earlier in the century.

The golfing folder is reproduced farther below.


*  *  *


But first, a Digression ...

Also, in 1949, this American movie was produced, promoting scenes in the 'CPR Rockies'.

Canadian Pacific was made with the complicity of the CPR.
The movie begins with fleeting colour footage of CPR steam-powered mountain operations
and it is clear that they provided historical context and hardware for the effort.




In fact, if you know and collect history movies like I do ...
this must have been the movie which The National Dream was based on!

Unlike that CBC-NFB co-production, Canadians can view Canadian Pacific today.
It is available on YouTube and that's where the following images originate.

In honour of Canada 150, here are a few scenes from our history ...



Things are going poorly for the CPR in the Canadian Parliament. 

At the right margin, Van Horne (standing) waits to tell the MPs 
that, by gum, he'll find a way through the mountains!

According to Van Horne (and you will find this in Hansard)
some guy named Hannibal found a way through the mountains 

... so it can be done, it will be done.

(I think Hannibal must have worked as a civil engineer on the Central Pacific Railroad.)




Because of her choice of Ottawa as Canada's capital ...

The movie includes a flashback to Queen Victoria's wedding 
to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.



At End of Track.

Tom Andrews (left) - who just found the way through the mountains - with Van Horne.

Tom has just joked that he hasn't been hiding out in his private car like Van Horne has.

Our ace Canadian surveyor (who sounds like an American) is about to reveal the route!
He states he will draw some maps for Van Horne before he leaves.


*  *  *

Later ...

With the pay car late 
(bet that never happened either) 
the workers have downed their tools in protest, 
and have repaired to the elaborate saloon-tent set up at CPR End of Track.

'Ten barrels of whiskey have arrived!'
(You'd've thought the CPR would have checked that waybill more closely.)
'Drinks on the house!'

In the saloon (maybe for a cup of tea) a dour killjoy Scot observes: 
'The booze was sent to keep fools drunk and to cripple the railroad!'
This 'fake news' is 'edited' with gunplay and two murders.


To keep the drunks railroaded and to cripple the fools ...
To keep the railroad crippled and to fool the drunks  ...
Railroad documentaries: See also, Blazing Saddles.


Above, the End of Track saloon proprietor, and his friend Mr Winchester
asks for patrons' cooperation to maintain peace, order and good government.

Early Canadian social programs:

The End of Track has a Doctorin'-Woman, MD.
She provides health care for the injured workers in the CPR Hospital Car.

*  *  *

I shall leave out the CPR verisimilitude 'Mountain Indian Attack' for brevity.

*  *  *


hurry as they must
to relieve the End of Track 
on a four-four-oh

External view from fireman's side:

Another guy with a Scottish accent to Mr Van Horne: 
'He's giving her all she's got!'

*  *  *

Back to Golfing at Banff Springs Hotel.






The map below looks roughly southwest toward the Banff Springs Hotel.


The text below the map is enlarged and reproduced below for easier reading.

Converted into 2017 dollars, 'per person':

It would cost about $32 for a round of golf.
A season of golf would be $950.





This undated colourized postcard, made from a black and white photograph, looks roughly southwest.
In the foreground, you can see the CPR station.
Its wooden water tower is partially hidden by trees near the right edge of the photo.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Montreal Terminals - A Descriptive Sketch, Part 1


My brother gave me this wonderful little 4 inch by 6 inch booklet. In the railway's own words, it documents the state of many of the CNR's Montreal facilities in the late 1950s. 

As with most large organizations producing a publication for general distribution ... the probability that the information was reviewed by various departments and/or levels of the organization makes it particularly valuable as a historical document.

Dating: Although the booklet is undated, it mentions the removal of the interurban line from the Victoria Bridge and the servicing of steam locomotives. 

For people not familiar with the area and its features, 
and to provide some contemporary atmosphere, 
I have added a few images from the era described.





Schematic map included in the booklet.



from: Pamphlet: Canadian National Railways, America's Largest Railway System. Undated, circa late 1940s. Collection of LC Gagnon.


from: America's Largest Railway, 1950, Canadian National Railways. Collection of LC Gagnon.
The three 'white' windows with rounded tops mark the centre of the rebuilt (after the 1916 fire) Bonaventure station. 
Timetable west is behind the camera.
The station was demolished in 1952.

A newer version of some of the Bonaventure facilities is shown below.
The switcher is pulling timetable west.

from: Expo 67 Magazine. Collection of  LC Gagnon.



from: Railways of Canada; OS Nock; 1973; A&C Black, London.
With Montreal Island at the top of the photo, the south shore Victoria Bridge railway diversion 
and lift spans over the Seaway can be seen under construction in the late 1950s.

Below, the tracks leading from Central Station, into the Mount Royal Tunnel,
are seen in 1961.

Mount Royal Tunnel, Feb 1961. Ektachrome slide by LC Gagnon.


from: Canada Handbook; 1954; Government of Canada.
Above: The Wellington Tower interlocking.


Undated clipping from a Montreal newspaper during the CPR firemen's strike. Collection of LC Gagnon.
The legal CPR firemen's strike involved 5000 firemen and engineers from January 2 until January 11, 1957.
The CPR laid off 70,000 other workers for the duration of the strike.

The camera is facing timetable west.
At the right margin is Upper Lachine Road/Rue Saint Jacques.
The serpentine form near the top of the photo is the Lachine Canal.


Ektachrome slide by LC Gagnon. Feb 1961.
The photo was taken from Upper Lachine Road/Rue Saint Jacques.
Trains travelling to the left behind the water tower will reach Bonaventure, Central Station, etc.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pool Trains, Part 4 - Their Separate Ways


This is the fourth and final segment of my Pool Train trilogy.

In the early 1960s, both railways seem to have concluded that the Pool arrangement had become a four-legged milking stool.

*  *  *

When I was aged eight, I couldn't figure out why my father was so keen to commemorate the end of the Pool train era - as if it was actually something interesting and important like a steam engine. On a Saturday afternoon, we walked about a block from our Lachine home to see a kind of ugly train of mismatched passenger equipment roll by. 'That is the last Pool train.'

Several decades later, through the process of cobbling together this tetralogy, I now understand the Pool train era better. In some ways, it began as a 1930s effort to a provide an efficient passenger service which transcended the limits of particular railway companies - something VIA Rail would later work to achieve. Unlike Pool trains, VIA took 'unloved' passenger services, old equipment and employees (actually, responsibility for their collective agreements) off the railways' hands for good.

*  *  *

I think it was reading the following booklet's reference to Pool trains which caused me to start this series. In the expansive universe of things which passenger train conductors had to know and had to be responsible for, Pool train zone ticket interchangeability must have been in the 'most annoying' category. 







*  *  *

CPR Public Timetable - Very Late in the Pool Train Era

Compare this artifact to the bright and illustrated Depression-era timetables ... promoting the company's wide variety of facilities and services for the travelling public.

Well, suffice it to say that you can judge this book by its cover.


Once again, I have tried to include every reference to Pool train service ...
even though it may result in the reproduction of unrelated (but interesting) information.







*  *  *

'The News' Appears in the CPR Spanner Magazine




*  *  *

Photos of the Last Pool Trains

The technology for casual photography has changed so much (for the better) during the last couple of decades that it might be beneficial to explain what busy people, who weren't rich, who had kids, did for family pictures in the early 1960s. 
With a much greater investment of time and money, Jack Delano and Nick Morant (and photography buffs) could always produce beautiful railway photos. But simple family documentation ... of a birthday, or a vacation, or a CRHA fantrip ... did not lend itself to handling large glass negatives, using time exposures or carrying cameras more massive than paperback books.
The following slides were taken with a Kodak Brownie Starflash, which consumed single-use glass (or very brittle plastic) flash bulbs containing a metallic wool. The glass of these bulbs deformed when they were fired because they reached the temperature of the sun. This could be verified if you hurriedly ejected one into your hand to set up the next low-light photo. How far away could your flash photography subject be? ... about as far away as the molten bulb was thrown when you ejected it into your hand. Neither the shutter speed, nor the aperture, could be changed.

Perhaps to favour the uniform propagation of the flash light, this camera produced square images. This was not good for photographing linear objects like passing trains. The camera had a miniscule viewfinder which resulted in widespread, documented amputations of heads, arms, feet etc all across North America - particularly when the photographer was wearing eyeglasses.

To add to the modern mystery of photography, my father mailed his slide films away to Toronto to be developed. The attraction of this arrangement was that they sent you free rolls of film - matching each film which they had just developed for you. Part of the mystery was remembering the dates and circumstances of your entire roll of photos - days or months after you had first loaded the new film. The other part of the mystery was guessing the source of the opaque solids adhering to the finished slide ... the photofinishers were betting that no one would be taking a Pool train to Toronto to complain.


March 28, 1965 - Valois.
With the winter sun rapidly setting, the afternoon Pool train is travelling on CNR rails.
From time to time, it is nice to be reminded how bold and modern this paint scheme was.
You can make out one or two CPR cars right after the power.



Oct 23, 1965, 48th Avenue, Lachine.
The train is still operating on CPR rails,
having not yet reached the Dorval connecting track.
This photo was probably both rehearsal and insurance for the following week.

*  *  *

The Last Train 15 ex Montreal to Toronto.
Saturday, October 30, 1965, 48th Avenue Lachine.



... Pool trains were not necessarily beautiful to behold.

As this series has shown, there were a number of Pool trains operating on other routes and schedules.

However, with his knowledge of the history of this cooperative project,
my father was correct in stating that this was the final operation
on the original Pool train schedule.


from: Montreal Gazette, March 30, 1933.