Saturday, February 18, 2017

1967 Confederation Train Power - Mechanical & Electrical Procedures


In 1967 - as I write this it was 50 years ago -  I was about a decade old, and the adults around us were making a big deal about celebrating "the centennial of Canadian confederation". A century prior to that, the three provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had confederated themselves as the Dominion of Canada. 

In 1867, the Americans were still tidying up after their Civil War and they were also building railroads from sea to sea. They were making the British North American colonies mighty nervous and they helped precipitate all this confederating.


from: Canada Handbook 1967; Dominion Bureau of Statistics.

In 1867, some other potential provinces were holding out for a better confederation deal. Almost always these provinces wanted money for a money-losing railway ... either existing and over-built ... or non-existing with the explicit understanding that it would be over-built in the future.


*  *  *

With our rich railway history in mind ...

I think this is how the adults figured out that the Confederation Train 
would be the biggest federal Centennial Project of 1967 ...

Canada ... what are we? 
Brainstorm! : ... history ... railways ... losing money ...

Got it! ... Find some railway equipment, put a museum in it, make it FREE !

And paint it PURPLE so the 19 year old Baby Boomer kids 
will feel like they're 'Sticking It to The Man' when they visit.


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We saw the Confederation Train at Lachine and again at Dorval. The train was here on the Lachine Wharf Spur, November 24-26, 1967. The tailend is at Notre Dame, just west of 29th Avenue. The headend is facing east, toward Montreal.

... I couldn't calculate carlengths to figure out exactly which street is crossing here ... if I was any good at estimating 'carlengths' I'd probably still be a trainman.
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from: Railways of Canada; Nick and Helma Mika; 1978; Mika Publishing.

On the nose of the lead unit is the Centennial logo.
One triangle for each province, one triangle for 'all the territories up north somewhere'.
The stem represents the stem.

The large whistle is designed to play the first four notes of 'O Canada' - a perfect Rule 14 (l).
But safety regulators ultimately required the use of a standard whistle for grade crossings.

*  *  *

The Confederation Train is a very specialized, and now a very obscure, bit of Canadian railway history.
Below is the only coverage I could find in contemporary Canadian Rail or Trains.

Madame Vanier is the spouse of Governor General Georges Vanier -
a Great War veteran of distinguished service, he was ailing and would die a few months later.

from: Canadian Rail, December 1966; Canadian Railroad Historical Association

This blog is a proud purveyor of specialized obscurity.

Many years ago, I purchased a duo-tang full of the blank forms and procedures used to ensure the Confederation Train was properly checked and maintained during its travels on at least the two major railways all across Canada. Unfortunately, there are no forms completed with actual operating data.

Other posts will also fill in details from contemporary sources on the government's perspective on how Canada's centennial celebrations had been planned and organized. Some readers will remember that there were also truck caravans to take similar museum exhibits to communities unable to host the Confederation Train. 

A personal account I read recently regretted the fact that Montreal got Expo 67 but the west only got a dumb train. As you'll see, Expo 67 was not a federal project in the way that the train and other federal celebrations were. A great deal of emphasis was also put on personal centennial projects and local projects to celebrate the centennial.

Getting back to Confederation Train artifacts, the most boring generic items are in this post. Here are the mechanical and electrical checklists used to ensure the reliable operation of the train's motive power. Perhaps they were extracted from standard training or procedure manuals for maintaining motive power at shops. These sheets look as if they were cut, pasted and photocopied under the Confederation Train heading.

 Keep in mind that the headend equipment would idling for days on end at locations away from fully-equipped shops. 'Museum heat' was provided by steam generators. Half of the passenger cars in the consist were used for 'museum support' and staff accommodation. This would not have been a cheap project to set up and operate for a year in all types of Canadian weather.

This particular diesel technology was less than two decades old at the time, and steam locomotives had only been eliminated on major Canadian railways about six years earlier. If nothing else, the sheets following below show the technology of 50 years ago.









































Saturday, February 11, 2017

Railway Biographies of 1901 - NAFTA Edition!






For this post I have reproduced the data for a few North American officials employed by Mexican railways circa 1900.

While Canadians in the age of electronics are bathed in American culture from birth, we sometimes have hurt feelings because so many Americans seem to know so little about us. 

In fact, most Americans can probably live happy, productive lives without having to know anything about Canada. Similarly, before airline deregulation and cheap winter vacations, most Canadians had little contact with Mexico.

Before cheap air transportation ... what persistent reminders did we have of Mexico in Canada? ... the Frito Bandito, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  ... We don't need no stinkin' stereotypes! 

On Mexican railroads: Looking through five years of indexed, bound volumes of Trains magazines, from the late 1940s and early the 1960s, there was nothing worth reproducing for this post ... In most cases, small photographs in the news section showed particular pieces of hand-me-down power or coaches from the US. Similarly, my various stock photo 'railroads of the world' books have virtually nothing on Mexican railways. 

Looking in a reprint of the 1916 Official Guide - there were a few pages of Mexican railway business advertisements and a few timetables. 


from: A Canadian School Geography; George A Cornish; 1927; JM Dent & Sons. Collection of LC Gagnon.

The easily-remembered comparison image above is helpful.

In 1900, the population of Mexico was 13.5 million.
In 1901, the Canadian census recorded a little over 5 million people.


Mexico experienced a railway building boom at about the same time as Canada. Mexico's history before and after this period was more turbulent than Canada's. 

Canada generally benefitted from its parental British colonial superpower - which was rather firm when confronted with American military and para-military incursions across the border. Also, by the 1860s, Canada had finally worked out the representative government idea fairly well - so there was less potential for social unrest. In the mid and late 1800s, British capital was comfortably invested in ventures such as the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific. 

Given that investment capital is always mobile, sensitive and scarce ... it just is ... Mexico's railway building boom seems to have occurred when there was a master politician and strongman in charge. 

Porfirio Diaz 1830-1915 was in power from 1877 to 1911 (except for four years) and he made Mexico friendly to foreign investors. From humble beginnings, his study for the priesthood was terminated when the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) began and he decided to join the military. Legal study and more wars and military experience followed. In 1877, he became president for one term ... then didn't like what his successor was doing ... and won the office again and stayed in power for quite a while thereafter.

While he was President of Mexico, capital flowed in from the US and Britain ... so some of Mexico's mineral wealth could be developed and so railways could be built to transport it. With improved transportation, agricultural products were more efficiently distributed and exported, and people could get around better as well. 

After Diaz got the boot in 1911, and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, Mexico became a republic with its own constitution.

This first series of images comes from
The National Lines of Mexico; 1900; Jackson Smith.
(The archive.org link appears at the end of this post.)

























*  *  *

Considering my brief sketch of Mexican history circa 1900 above, you can understand that the following American, Canadian and British railway officials were down here in 1901 during the height of Mexico's railway and industrial boom - during the presidency of Porfirio Diaz. These may have been the 'last good years' of the railway cycle to be working on these lines.

... The Revolution and related unrest ran from 1910 until 1920 or so ... and even 'safe' Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk investment capital was drawn away in search of higher returns from the Great War industries 1914-1918. Another problem for the railways' operation: few American lines would have allowed assets such as freight cars to be interchanged into the Revolution Zone.

The 1920's economic and stock market boom in the US probably resulted in capital being drawn away from Mexico so it could be played in the local American stock market. RCA and automobiles ... or post-Revolution Mexican railways - which would you pick?

The Dirty Thirties would have been lean times for Mexican economic activity ... until the US wartime boom in the early 1940s.


Employees in 1901, grouped by the employing railway:

Mexican International






Mexican Central









Interoceanic



Mexican Southern


*  *  *

Below is a 1920s map which shows railways in red.
You can imagine how terrain, population, seaports and economic resources have influenced the network's development.

Notice the isolated lines in the Yucatan Peninsula to the right.
A number of the minor Mexican railways were narrow gauge - as you might expect.

from: The New World Atlas and Gazetteer; 1923; PF Collier and Son.


Below, also from The National Lines of Mexico, is a typical Poole Brothers (Chicago) system map
which makes every railway line look like an 'air line'.

When they scanned this book, the centre of the map was lost in the book gutter.



from: Railways Then and Now; O.S. Nock; 1975; Crown Publishers.

Here is a photo taken during the Revolution - probably the source of  numerous stereotypes.

Pulling a single car for overnight accommodation, non-revenue light engine 'cruiser trains' were sometimes run at high speed over the lines where unrest and damage to railway property had been a problem. These trains operated by daylight only as night operations would be particularly at risk due to track sabotage. Wooden trestles and buildings were favourite targets.

*  *  *

Moving back a couple of decades ... In the Gay Nineties, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated specially-chartered cruise trains (using today's meaning) - which ran from New York to see the attractions of Mexico. These were excursions for high net worth individuals. It seems likely that Mexican railways and industries would also be interested in exposing potential investors to the progressive Mexican development story.

The first map below shows the route in Mexico, the second shows the US portion of the trip. A link at the end of this post will take you to this book: Pennsylvania Tour to Mexico (printed in 1891 for 1892 travel).

These maps are handy as they provide some detail on the location and identity of particular lines.







Links to archive.org books:


The National Lines of Mexico (1900)

Pennsylvania Tour to Mexico (1891)



The post finishes with two more traditional North American railway careers which I found while looking for Mexican employment in 1901. 

The first is reproduced so you can imagine all the railway developments he has seen in his 60-odd years of life. 

The second was born in Kingston.









Friday, February 3, 2017

Dominion Atlantic Railway: Steam Power Snapshots, Maps, Books/Ephemera



This post features an exquisitely-curated hodge podge of old steam snapshots; some of the first passenger timetables published for Nova Scotia's first railways; railway maps of the Maritime Provinces; and images from, and links to, old books on archive.org which you can explore.

Maybe 20 years ago, I purchased a small box of CPR steam locomotive snapshots at a railway show in Ottawa. Some are particularly small. Many were inserted into a typewriter to formalize the data in the photo. Most are labelled with fairly accurate locomotive and place data. Special paper dividers were inserted for those CPR subsidiaries which maintained their own corporate identities for a while.

There are nine photos of Dominion Atlantic Railway locomotives which I would like to get 'out there' to you. Where necessary, I have supplemented the data on the photo's reverse with information from Omer Lavallee's Canadian Pacific Steam Locomotives.

According to that reference, the CPR acquired the DAR's locomotives in 1912 - at the same time it leased the railway for 999 years.

Later on, as power needs changed, the CPR would 'lend' locomotives to the DAR from its own roster. As the DAR shop forces at Kentville seemed to have little interest in the intricacies of CPR long-term asset bookkeeping ... they'd repaint 'their new' locomotives in DAR heraldry and often bestow names on them. This naming practice probably originated from the early days of railroading when everyone named their locomotives ... but possibly it was reinforced by the maritime ship-naming culture all around the DAR. Lavallee stresses that these names were not used officially, e.g. for engine identification in train orders.

The snapshots are presented in road number order ...



Engine 24 La Tour, built by Baldwin in June 1898.
At Kentville, June 1939.

With their stacks capped, this is the dead line. The child is obscured by errant light during the film handling or printing steps - not live steam. The wheel arrangement and the deep firebox suggest that this engine started life as a wood burner.



Engine 44.
Truro, July 1943.

CLC 1913? From QCR in 1943?
... If my guess is correct ... this corresponds to the 'second use of 44' in Lavallee.

There are two entries in Lavallee for Eng 44. My guess is based on the diamond-shaped builder's plate. I am not someone who will fight to the death over a locomotive detail. Sometimes, I think plates were also attached for devices such as superheater bundles so I could well be wrong.



Engine 45 Alexander (ex-CPR 503), 'Alco', November 1902.
Kentville, 1931.

Before the ravages and deferred maintenance of the Great Depression and World War Two, a similar engine to 44 presented a much different appearance. I think the 'coaling facilities' are also shown in this photo ... or the ash pit (left foreground) has just been cleaned out.



Engine 534, built North British (Glasgow) 1903. Ex-CPR 995.
Digby, 1938.

My scant Digby knowledge leads me to believe that this engine is bound for Yarmouth. The fireman is probably snacking on a locally-grown apple. Having enjoyed Duncan du Fresne's When Steam and Steel Get in Your Blood, we can probably agree that a previous fast passenger train had its fire cleaned on the main track by that rail joint. 

Below the fireman's hand, I think it may be the can holding potable water for the crew which you see. Often these were designed to be hung up inside the cab. Inside the lid was often a hook to hold the common metal drinking cup shared by the crew.



544 Hébert. Saxon Locomotive (Chemnitz), 1903.
There is no date or location noted on this photo.

The stack is capped and headlight parts may have been scavenged.
Perhaps the metal fabrication at the right is a former tender 'pilot'.



547 Champlain. Saxon Locomotive (Chemnitz) 1904, ex-CPR 547.
At Truro - June 4, 1939.

It seems that some DAR locomotives sometimes had white smokebox fronts?



552, Membertou. Built by Saxon, 1904.
No place or date noted.



555 Nicholson. Built by Saxon 1904, ex-CPR 555
At Truro, July 8, 1940.

If you squint and stare, you may see the fireman filling the tender from a standpipe. 
The water would be coming from that water tank at the right margin.



CPR 1090, DeRazilly. Built by CLC, 1913.
No date or place data.

At the 'ash pit'?
The worker in the fireman's seat seems to be in comfortable repose.


*  *  *

Official Railway Guide; June 1868 (reprint).
This seems to represent the extent of the Nova Scotia passenger railway transportation system at the time of Canadian confederation. You'll notice on the last line that, before the DAR to Yarmouth was dreamed of, ocean steamships were transporting passengers from the railheads reached overland from Halifax. You may also have spotted the names of future employees of the CPR in the header.


*  *  *


from: Appendix to Statutory History of the Steam and Electric Railways of Canada, 1836-1937; Robert Dorman; 1948; Department of Transport, Canada.

Above (CPR) and below (CNR) are railway maps for the Canadian maritime provinces. Using the line numbering system, you can determine their antecedents in the lists at the right. 

These fold-out maps are roughly legal size and the book is 'bound' with two robust staples. Any fuzziness is the result of avoiding damage to the book while scanning. Google limits the size of my image on the blog.

from: Appendix to Statutory History of the Steam and Electric Railways of Canada, 1836-1937; Robert Dorman; 1948; Department of Transport, Canada.

*  *  *

The following images come from some of the related books on the archive.org website.
At the end of this post are links to these three books, if you'd like to have a look.


from: Clarke's History of the Earliest Railways in Nova Scotia, 1924

from: Clarke's History of the Earliest Railways; Will W Clarke; 1924; Hants Journal Press.
Above, is the second Windsor and Annapolis Railway engine - Gabriel.
The railway's first two locomotives were named after the main fictional characters in Longfellow's poem.
The adapted British design of this engine can be seen.


from: Clarke's History of the Earliest Railways; Will W Clarke; 1924; Hants Journal Press.
In olden tymes, they didn't have as many different 'names' for ships/engines as we do today ... it seems.
Did the restroom doors bear signs 'Evangelines' and 'Gabriels'?
How much did this noble vessel roll in a gale?


from: Clarke's History of the Earliest Railways; Will W Clarke; 1924; Hants Journal Press.

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from: The Land of Evangeline, Dominion Atlantic Railway, 1897

The Land of Evangeline, Dominion Atlantic Railway; 1897.


The Land of Evangeline, Dominion Atlantic Railway; 1897.

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from: Boston and the Maritime Provinces, 1900


from: Boston and the Maritime Provinces, Dominion Atlantic Railway, 1900.


from: Boston and the Maritime Provinces, Dominion Atlantic Railway, 1900.



from: Boston and the Maritime Provinces, Dominion Atlantic Railway, 1900.


Here are the links for these books:


Clarke's History of the Earliest Railways in Nova Scotia, 1924

Land of Evangeline, DAR, 1897

Boston and the Maritimes, DAR, 1900