Wednesday, 29 July 2015

To Ottawa in 1965

On a CRHA Excursion - May 30, 1965.

I don't know who these people are.
You can see the convenience of having a civilized terminal with coach-floor-level platforms.

During this era, excursion steam locomotives could still back in on their trains before departing for points south or west from Central Station. However, they could not pull their trains into and under Central Station on their return - so the steam locomotives were generally cut off at Turcot Yard.

I can identify these two kids.

Arriving early is beneficial because you get to pick a good seat, reserve it with a coat or a picnic lunch ... AND if you hang around the power, you might be invited into the cab. Particularly if you dress in a 'professional' manner.

The D-1 is a self-propelled car, formerly used to maintain low-ridership passenger service on branchlines. It was retained and altered to support maintenance of the local CNR catenary. 

CPR Windsor Station is in the background and I believe that is the CP Chateau Champlain being erected.

A runpast up Vaudreuil hill.

Captain Noel of the CN Police (foreground) was a regular fixture on these fantrips.
CRHA volunteers provided passenger support during detraining and entraining.
The CNR Police were there to supervise overall safety.
The ubiquitous CN orange step box can be seen on the ballast.

Climbing over right-of-way fences for good/safe photo vantage points,
avoiding 'soakers',
and clambering up from the ballast onto the coach steps,
... were skills developed by young railfans.

Here is the watering stop at Alexandria, Ontario.
A small antique pumper truck provided the water.

Local fire departments usually did the honours for water.
Coal (needed less frequently) was usually supplied by clamshell buckets at the excursion's turn-around point.

The heavy infrastructure to re-supply steam locomotives had been demolished almost everywhere by this point.

The view from the rear of the train at Alexandria.
The clear signal notwithstanding, we are headed in the other direction.
I believe the track leading off to the right was an industrial spur.

'Coming into Ottawa.'
The steam beneath the tender is probably exhaust from the coal auger - part of the automatic stoker system.

*  *  *

A Brief Digression on 'The Railway and Ottawa's Urban Planning Process' ...

from: Ottawa Terminals Employee Timetable; Canadian National Railways; September 26, 1954, my collection.

Our excursion is approaching on the Alexandria Sub at the right
and arriving at Union Station at the top edge of the map.

For people not familiar with Ottawa's geography ...
As a convention for this post, I will refer to moving over the Ottawa River toward Quebec as 'north' 
and moving in the opposite direction as 'south'.

from: Railways in Ottawa Today; Douglas E Stoltz; Canadian Rail; April 1965; Canadian Railroad Historical Association. Collection of  LC Gagnon.

My father recorded that the entire train reversed into Ottawa Union Station
and you can see there are opportunities to wye the train on the approach to Ottawa.

The article for which this map was drawn detailed all the changes to Ottawa trackwork. For people like me who are less familiar with how the rail network was built and used, these articles are great. I'll leave all the details about Ottawa rails to experts on the subject.

Ottawa (along with other Canadian cities) was undergoing a great transformation during this period. The domination of coal-powered steam railways ... with all their refueling coal dust, street-level hazards and traffic obstructions, noises, dirty oily 'rain', and black sooty 'snow' ... had ended with the CNR/CPR official death of steam in 1960. 

Modern urban planning practices of the 1950s and early 1960s promoted the new domination of clean, quiet, rubber-tired internal combustion vehicles. Bigger wider roads, boulevards and parkways would quickly get workers and their families to their destinations - on their own schedules. 

In hindsight, it would have been nice if a mass transit node, in the form of a downtown railway station, had been allowed to survive the automotive onslaught. In this Canadian Rail article, even the planned demolition of the Union Station building was mentioned.

from: from: Railways in Ottawa Today; Douglas E Stoltz; Canadian Rail; April 1965; Canadian Railroad Historical Association. Collection of  LC Gagnon.
Our excursion was travelling from the lower right corner of this photo, to the terminal fan of tracks seen to the right of the Parliament Buildings.

Caption from the 1965 article:
'CNR former roundhouse and coachyard. Double track through centre of photo is CN Alexandria Sub and the line to its right is CPR M&O Sub. Where they meet is "Deep Cut" and beyond it is the coachyard and Union Station. All other tracks are now gone: NYC installations on right, CNR on left. One year ago the CNR wye area looked almost the same as in this photo - now an expressway interchange is under construction here.'

Canada was celebrating its 100th anniversary of Confederation on July 1, 1967 so there was added urgency to complete the modernization of Ottawa's infrastructure. 

If the Canadian flags in the slides which follow look crisp and new, they are, as the 'Maple Leaf' was officially flown for the first time on February 15, 1965.

Unused postcard, my collection.
I have toned-down some of the colourization of this black and white photo so the local railway details can be seen more easily. I am guessing that this photo was taken in the 1945-1950 period before intercity passenger and freight transportation went to the post-war highways.

Unused postcard, my collection.
Here is the Union Station building, looking 'south' with the Rideau Canal beside it.
In the foreground is the CPR track leading to the 'Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge' and Quebec.

from: Ottawa Union Station Closes; July/August 1966; Canadian Rail; map by Tony Clegg. Collection of LC Gagnon.
Here are some early details of the Union Station terminal area.

Postcard mailed 1910, my collection.
At one point the CPR seems to have had a glorified yard ... looking 'north' of Union Station. 
Looks may be deceiving, though - 
for at least part of its life, the Alexandra Bridge carried a separate streetcar line as well.

from: The National Capital Plan Exhibit - a Guide to the Plans; no date; The National Capital Planning Committee/ J Gréber, consultant; The Federal District Commission.

My father picked up this pamphlet during a visit to Ottawa in the 1950s.
It was probably handed out at a display of models showing Ottawa's proposed redevelopment.

Notice that in this dystopia all is surrendered to the automobile.
  • Union Station has been razed.
  • An interprovincial road carries traffic along the canal - including between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier.
  • Somehow, model trees far outnumber model autos.
  • No public transportation can be seen.
*  *  *

Back to the Excursion ...

"Vnion Station" in May 1965.
The 'Romans' who originally built the station did not write the letter 'U' as we do today.
(These slides are about as old as the station was then.)

Looking 'north' - the Rideau Canal locks and the bridge.

Fun on the Hill.
Those are parked cars. Parking was free, but you had to parallel park all by yourself.

Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge
Although Union Station was to be closed in 1966, this bridge still carried trains at this point.
On the far (Quebec) side you can see the railway grade continuing off at exactly the same level.

Here is a look at our train before departing Ottawa.

At the Alexandria water stop there is the usual tender-top excursion train conference.
With some 'waters' chemicals were added to prevent foaming in the boiler and mineral deposits.

A frequent experience at these stops (seen above)
was a too-hot fire/boiler setting off the thunder of the high-pressure safety valve
- a deafening, technically wasteful ... but exciting demonstration of the power within.

Back at Turcot Yard, 6218 is cut off before a diesel pulls the consist in under Central Station.

Below is the CRHA flyer section offering our excursion, complete with Sunday's projected schedule.
During the summer, the railways still operated on Standard Time
so there were always addition calculations for passengers.

And here is one of many preserved CRHA excursion tickets with its stub detached.