Monday 23 May 2016

So you like trains. Seriously?

The theme of today’s posting is my love of trains and, by extension, my love of photographing trains and train photography. In admitting my love of trains, I realize that I have marginalized myself beyond redemption in the eyes of many. But I also recognize that I am walking – very, very humbly – in the footsteps of great railroad photographers. Iconic names such as the American master O. Winston Link ( and Canadian Greg McDonnell ( spring to mind immediately.

My journey with trains began in the late 1940s in Prince Edward County. I was born at Hallowell Junction, halfway between Wellington and Bloomfield across the road from the old Canadian National Railway (CNR) line. Watching trains – first steam locomotives, then diesel – rumble by our front yard every day became a permanent part of my DNA.

Locomotives similar to the CNR 2-8-0 Consolidation pictured above (built in 1906 and now on display at Brighton’s wonderfully quirky Memory Junction Museum) etched themselves in my psyche. My ear became acutely attuned to the distant whistle of approaching locomotives, and I would race outside, no matter what the weather, to wave at the engineer and stare in wonder. And that soon led to toy trains from Santa Claus at Christmas, starting with wind-up trains from MARX, but soon graduating to my first Lionel electric train. I still have nightmares about having that Lionel train stolen – yes, stolen! – in 1958. But that’s another story for another time. The point here is that trains burrowed themselves inside my soul when I was a kid and have stayed there ever since, providing me with a hobby that has been delighting me (and draining my bank account) for almost seventy years.

In the last eighteen months, my love of trains has been enhanced by my growing love of photography. The remainder of today’s posting is devoted to showcasing some train-related photos I have taken in those eighteen months. If trains aren’t your thing – and I completely get it if they aren’t – you can stop reading now and get back to your life. For those of you who do enjoy images of these hulking giants, however, I commend the following photos.

Canadian National Railway mainline at Shannonville Road, just east of Belleville.

Early morning VIA train approaching Belleville station.

One of the Toronto Transit Commission's snazzy new Bombardier Flexity streetcars on lower Spadina Avenue. In the background is one of the TTC's Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (CLRV), first introduced in 1977.

The maze of tracks just west of Toronto's Union Station.

"Will you ever love me?" Sadly poetic graffiti on a bulk hopper car.

CNR inspection truck on little-used rail line (originally built as the Grand Junction Railway in 1877) running north of the VIA station in Belleville.

Boiler of 1911 CNR 2-8-0 Consolidation locomotive #2616 reflecting the grass in the Rotary Park in Haliburton, Ontario.

And the last photo today - from my own O-scale (1:48) basement layout. On the left is the CNR's much-lamented Turbo Train from the 1970s; on the right is an E-8 passenger locomotive in classic Santa Fe markings. Frances Key's painting provides a suitable backdrop.

Until next week, my friends. As always, I am open to your feedback. Please check my regular Facebook and Twitter postings.


  1. It was a pleasure to learn how your passion for trains developed, Larry--I can just see that eager little boy!--and the photos are wonderful. (I particularly like the Early Morning VIA Train.) More, please!

  2. Thanks, Jean. The photo you like is one of my favourites, too. I find the discipline of posting every Monday to be a great form of self-discipline...or self-flagellation. Not sure which! Nice to do it in my spiffy new office in the basement, right next to Bill's spiffy new quilting studio.

  3. Already looking forward to your next post Larry. I love the variety of moods and treatments within the series of photos. Boiler in the grass caught my eye.