2020 Roundup

It’s time for the traditional year-end roundup post. So. 2020. How was that?

Well, you know. We who survived the pandemic lived through it, so there’s no need to belabour the issue. Remember the fallen, honour the front line workers who fought for us, and move on to bigger and better things. I have high hopes for 2021.

I’m grateful that I work from home and I was able to continue working with no real difference in my work habits, except that I didn’t travel for work at all in 2020.

I’m grateful that my wife and kids are healthy, and so are my mom, and my sisters, and my in-laws. Very grateful.

For the remainder of this post, I’m going to use the same section headers as I did in my 2019 roundup post. It should be amusing to see what I planned… and whether I accomplished any of it.

Grain Elevators

The former La Salle grain elevator - now demolished
The former La Salle grain elevator – now demolished

I didn’t travel out of province in 2020, but I did see lot of grain elevators in Manitoba. I photographed Arborg, Arden, Beasejour, Binscarth, Brookdale, Brunkild, Culross, Domain, Dufresne, Dugald, Dundonald, Elie, Elm Creek, Fannystelle, Fredensthal West, Gladstone, Glenlea, Harte, Helston, Homewood, Inglis, La Salle, Mollard, Morris, Niverville, Oakburn, Oakville, Oberon, Rathwell, Rivers, Rossburn, Rosser, Russell, Sandy Lake, Shoal Lake, Silverton, St Jean Baptiste, Starbuck, Ste Agathe, Steele Bridge, Tyndall, and Westroc. 42 locations – I guess that’s a lot.

Sadly two of those elevators fell this year – Arden and La Salle. I’m glad I had a chance to visit both of them in 2020 before their demolition.

The former Arden, MB grain elevator - demolished
The former Arden, MB grain elevator – demolished


  • 108 posts
  • 11 book reviews
  • 4 guest posts
  • 1 “10 Questions” post
  • 9,794 photos and videos kept (as of Dec 25)

Blog Partners

First off, Michael at The Beachburg Sub wrapped up his blogging in October. You can read his reasons here. I wish him well. He’s left the blog up as a reference, so feel free to browse!

Eric Gagnon at Trackside Treasure continues to create compelling Canadian content. He wrote another book! My review is here.

The Trackside Photographer was on hiatus for much of the year, but is back and publishing again.

Tim Hayman’s Tim’s Train Travels were understandably abbreviated by the pandemic this year. I do enjoy his content – very long form – and I encourage you to check it out.

Eric G’s brother David Gagnon posts a lot of interesting material at Rolly Martin Country. My only complaint is that I wish he would allow comments.

George Dutka and occasional partners write frequently at White River Division. It’s a mix of model and 1:1 scale content, always interesting.

Oil-Electric has definitely slowed the pace of blogging in the past few years, but there’s lots of engaging content there to browse…


As I mentioned, I didn’t leave the province in 2020, but we did take a few trips. We took a family trip to Riding Mountain National Park in the summer, and also went a few hours north to Hecla. In both cases I negotiated a little grain elevator time for myself and that’s a lot of the reason why I visited 42 locations this year.

My other “trips” were day trips out of Winnipeg to see trains. I made a point of trying to see the CP military locomotives, and I finally “got” all five recently.

Non-Railfan Posts

As I mentioned in my 2019 roundup, most of my posts are railfan posts – describing outings I’ve had. This year, I have written quite a few non railfan, non review posts, including:

I have been making a point of writing non railfan posts. I do enjoy writing the railfan posts, but I also enjoy writing about whatever I feel like… and in the past I’ve avoided writing posts that I think might be a little “off topic”. This year I decided to just go for it and so far the results have been very positive. Thank you.

The Drone

This year, I’ve flown my drone 135 times for a total of 11 hours, 14 minutes and 44 seconds. The majority of the flights have been in the summer (naturally) but I flew it quite a bit in the fall, as it has been quite mild. Now that we are in full winter, the opportunities to fly the drone are quite limited.

My drone (DJI Mavic Air) has performed very well – except for one time. I was out near Elie, recording a container train, when I lost control of the drone. Fortunately, the “return to home” function worked perfectly and it came back to me and landed itself. I haven’t been able to figure out what went wrong and it’s worked perfectly since then. It’s a head scratcher!


Like 2019, I haven’t volunteered much in 2020. I worked for a few hours at the Prairie Dog Central one morning but that barely counts for anything.

I have been a moderately active board member of Transport Action Canada, and I continue to donate to a number of organizations in Canada and the US.

I’ve tried to provide a voice to a few organizations, like the Waterloo Central Railway, and tried to raise awareness through posts about the Railway Coastal Museum.

Plans for 2021

I think it’s clear that there won’t be any significant travel for me in at least the first six months of 2021. I’m hoping by the fall of 2021 that things will be “normal” enough to allow interprovincial or even international travel.

Given those assumptions, here are my plans for 2021:

  • Photograph some grain elevators in Saskatchewan. I really want to see Dankin and Neidpath.
  • Fly my drone over some bridges like the Uno trestle in western Manitoba.
  • Get published in either TRAINS or Railfan & Railroad.

Looking at my 2019 goals, I accomplished none of them except for writing a book. I wrote two! Three Days in February and Lions and Lambs.

Your Turn

How was your train watching in 2020?

4 thoughts on “2020 Roundup”

  1. Like most people I didn’t go far in 2020, no U.S. travel at all. Close to the CN main through St. Hyacinthe but with VIA cuts and no Ocean, I was limited to CN and SLA freights. SLA now owned by G & W means all orange but they now go all the way to Montreal instead of picking up their train in Richmond. Being close to Farnham, I shot CMQ as many times as I could before the CP takeover. Hardly ever see the blue barns anymore, everything is red again. CP has spent a lot of money on track rehabilitation and it shows. Trains are faster so I must plan my shots. Looking forward to the border opening so I can catch a few NECR before it’s all orange. Happy New Year, Steve and everyone !!

    • Hi Steven, happy new year! I imagine the G&W might get boring after a while but I would love to shoot it. I don’t see orange here! I saw one of the former CMQ units a day ago, one of the CEFX leasers. I think the CMQ units are being “run ’til they break” in whatever service is required for them.

      I’m glad CP has been investing in the line. I hope I get to see them running through Maine or even a run-through in NB someday.

  2. Happy new Year, Steve!

    Thanks for your positive post proclaiming the positivity and penultimate pandemic panoply of posts you’ve published! And the Treasure that you’ve Troved Trackside at which I totally Try!

    My brother did talk to me about comments at one point on RMC. I see he does give an email address and I know he corresponds with some regular readers that way, if that helps.


    • Hi Eric, I’m always amazed at all alliterations broadcast by blog commenters creating charming content!

      I believe I have exchanged some emails with your brother. I like comments on blogs because it keeps them together with the content, but I totally get turning them off (or never turning them on). I have several spam comments every day and it gets a little tiresome… plus sometimes legit comments get caught in the spam trap.


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