Saturday, November 3, 2018

Kingston, Brockville, CPR Main Line, 1981

Here are a few more snapshots and photos from the early 1980s at Kingston, Brockville and somewhere on CPR's eastern Ontario main line. My method for dating them follows because I wasn't sure whether they were 1981 or 1982. 

Over the years, we experienced or saw some of the effects of Prairie droughts. In the late 1980s, when for vacation we still operated Kingston to Portage la Prairie with a CB radio, we met dozens of stock trucks bringing beef cattle to eastern markets because there was no local pasture to sustain them through the summer. Naturally, this had severe effects on the market prices received by the ranchers and farmers.

The first photo shows some boxcars of the government-owned Canadian National Railways spotted at the team track which was once located (I think) west of Gardiners Road and south of the main line in Kingston. 'Plain' - compared to 'roller' - bearings still rode the rails.

There was a campaign by farmers in eastern Canada to help support the farmers and ranchers in the west by donating hay to them. Being conscious that I'm looking at free hay ... this seems like the crispy hay which spent a couple of years in the back corner of the loft ... because the farmer wasn't desperate enough to use it for his/her own animals and they didn't have the heart to recycle the hay bales into their own fields via the manure spreader and the plow. Again, this was a gift and they were getting desperate out west.

*  *  *

Back in those years, I was more keen on living my life than documenting things in detail.
Photofinishing stores didn't bother writing the year on their envelopes.
So, some of my photo books are not precisely dated or captioned.
How can one date them? Was this 1981 or 1982?

  1. You can ensure that your printed photos are properly dated in your books. Nope! ... next ...
  2. You can go through an alternate process to try and date them. 
  3. I have a third option: Ask my brother - knower of great quantities of railway and western Canada data ... or (if I am 'on deadline') I could sneakily search his website for the answer. I am usually quite certain it will be there. But I've never done this because it's 'cheating'.

So I chose Option 2. I think these photos are from 1981. 
Here is my process ...

from: Comparison between the Droughts of the 1930s and the 1980s in the Southern Prairies of Canada; L Nkemdirim, L Weber; Journal of Climate, August 1999. 
Having just done a few posts on the Big Beaver area of southern Saskatchewan,
I'm interested in learning more about the history of the southern Prairies.

Below is an explanation of the PDSI.

We once attended a Gwynne Dyer lecture during which he noted that Canada would be a net 'winner' - if such a thing is possible - as climate change continues. He continued: "But we'll lose the Prairies [as an agricultural area]". So you'll hear more about this kind of thing in the future.

from: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research website;

*  *  *

After my posting came this message from Eric:

"I was able to narrow down the hay boxcar date because I photographed the same cars on my little 110 camera: CN 424187-421888-427196-421150 (attached) and the date was July 18, 1980. 
"Interestingly, on July 10 at an unrecorded location (?midday) I recorded a westbound freight with CN 9526-9519-5071-3208 so it seems at least that photo might be from around that date if the units were still together as shown westbound in your photo."

Here is the link to his photos of those cars and the other tracks in the immediate area.

CN's Kingston Industrial Spur, Part 2

Trackside Treasure has the details!

... so 1980 is the date which is best documented.
(See what I mean?)

*  *  *

So this is probably 1980 ...

An westbound freight led by 9319 approaches Collins Bay Road in Kingston.

*  *  *

This sequence was taken somewhere between Merrickville and Brighton. I'm not certain that the absence of a headlight on the eastbound is helpful in determining whether this is a double- or single-tracked zone.

*  *  *

I remember coming home quite excited (as an 11 year old) after I shot these two photos in March 1969 at 40th Avenue, Lachine. Next, there would have been the weeks waiting for my father to finish the roll of slide film and mail it to Toronto for developing (the incentive was that Toronto sent a free film for each roll developed). These units are westbound on the CNR. Commuters, after crossing the future Autoroute 20 using traffic lights and a crosswalk, used that overpass to reach the CPR commuter station behind the camera.

*  *  *

Back to 1980 ...

This is turning into a bit of a freak show. This is a Vivitar 110 film roadside quick shot. I pulled over to photograph the switching at the DuPont plant in Kingston. As a bonus, I got a railway physics demonstration. This was an interesting illustration of a force being applied to an object resting on a low friction surface - admittedly on an incline. The brakeman riding the car started his own switching manoeuvre by releasing the handbrake and pushing on the car for about 10-20 seconds. I realize that one-person car movers were extensively used - particularly at Prairie elevators. There was no leverage used for this move.

*  *  *


A typical westbound for this period rolls through Brockville yard.

A westbound with autoracks - maybe on their last trip - passes under the gantry at Lyn, Ontario.

After quietly rolling down the nearby hill at speed, this eastbound Turbo
 appeared out of nowhere and I didn't have time to properly frame the shot.