Churchill – Part 3 – Keewatin Railway

This is the last of 3 parts of the Churchill trip, a guest post series by David McCormack. Here’s part 1 and part 2.

One of the days I was in The Pas area, I took a side trip to observe the Keewatin Railway Company mixed service from The Pas to Pukatawagan.

Video of full train (Instagram ink)

Keewatin Railway Company

The KRC was formed by three first nations (Mathaias Colomb Band, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, and the War Lake First Nation) to own and operate services to their communities with assistance from the Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Contribution Program from the federal government.

Snow on northern section of line (Flickr Link)

In 2006, the Hudson Bay Railway (HBRY) sold KRC the 185 mile long Sherridon Sub.  This goes from just north of Cranberry Portage to Lynn Lake.  

Assembling the Train – (Flickr Link)

The passenger service today is provided by thrice weekly mixed train round trips between The Pas and Pukatawagan.  From what I’ve read, there are no rail services north of Pukatawagan to Lynn Lake as it is currently dormant.


This section details my experience of photographing this line.

HBRY Wekusko Sub (The Pas – Flin Flon Junction)

This 4 mile section heading north out of The Pas has a decent amount of photography location opportunities due to it being close to town and several roads.

Heading north out of The Pas (Instagram Link)

I would suggest attempting to photograph this underpass instead of the river crossing a few hundred feet up the track due to poor sight lines I just could not make work.

HBRY Flin Flon Sub (Flin Flon Junction – Sherritt Junction)

There are numerous photography locations along this section of line as it parallels Highway 10 for a most of the Flin Flon Sub it travels on.  The speed of the train is fairly slow, so it is possible to chase it from location to location and to get it at numerous locations.

Moving slowly north (Flickr Link)

I was surprised by the difference in the amount of snow on the ground as it went north (even over the course of the 57 miles).

KRC Sherridon Sub (Sherritt Junction – Pukatawagan)

From what I could see, there was only one easily accessible location for photography, which was just right at the start of the sub.  There were no other options I could easily or reliably get to by roads.

Last Protected Crossing (Flickr Link)


Incase you are considering this, here are a few tips to help you out.

Riding the line

I did not ride this line.  I was considering it, but I was unable to find any information on accommodations in Pukatawagan.  I found one trip report out there on this line, but they seemed to have a similar troubles finding accommodation. (ED: see Alan Graham’s Riding the Rails to Pukatawagan and Churchill guest post)

Also, if you were hoping to see good scenery along the line, the view may be fuzzy due to the rough nature of the passenger equipment in use.  Many of the windows looked foggy or scratched.

Final Thoughts

I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to do this trip and to have met the people along the way and seen these remote operations.

Photography stat wise, I kept around 75 photos, out of the 3000+, I took across the entire trip.  This keeper ratio was about 1 in 30, which is higher than my usual 1 in 40 or so.  Since I’ve not seen many photos published from these lines, I was more lenient on what I kept than usual.

I was very lucky to have had a reasonable amount of decent weather for the trip, which enabled me to experience -18c to +20c in this one trip, allowing me to get cool winter shots and warm spring shots.

For those of you considering doing a trip like this, I’d suggest if you have the opportunity to, seize the chance and go for it.

Last shot (Instagram Link)

3 thoughts on “Churchill – Part 3 – Keewatin Railway”

  1. This is a hard to ride trip to make. I rode the line back in the Canadian National days. I was curious when VIA removed the schedule from their system timetable so I researched it. The schedule booklet dated 5/23/2004 no longer showed the Lynn Lake service from The Pas. The train numbers were 290 and 291. The schedule last appeared in the 10/27/2002 system timetable. When I rode it, it was basically a mixed freight train nowhere like these pictures with the VIA equipment. On the same journey when I last rode it, I also took advantage of the mixed train that operated on the Northern Alberta Rwy. I flew to Ft. McMurray and took the two day mixed train back to Edmonton. The first night I spent sleeping on the coach/combine as there were no hotels nearby. It was not a pleasant night heat wise, but I survived. The second day the train continued back to Edmonton. At most during those two days there are less than 6 people on at any given time.

    Unfortunately those days are long gone. Just a pleasant memory.

  2. Even though the equipment isn’t VIA owned, it’s nice to see blue and yellow passenger cars.

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