Unusual Canadian Locomotives – David Othen

This page contains a variety of pictures taken over the last thirty years, mainly on slide film and illustrates several rare locomotives, some of which are still running today.

The existence and location of many of these locomotives would have been unknown to me had it not been for the Canadian Trackside Guide published annually by the Bytown Railway Society.

Canadian Pacific

In the early years of dieselisation, Canadian Pacific purchased locomotives from many builders. Here we see two Baldwin DS4-4-1000s 7070 and 7072 outside Ogden shops, Calgary awaiting scrapping on 30 September 1982. Locomotives in this class are most frequently remembered for their log hauling duties on Vancouver Island.
This photograph was taken in very unfavourable silhouette conditions from a room at Inn on the Park Toronto as the unique 2400 Hp MLW RSD17 8921 passed in late October 1973.

The last Canadian Pacific RS3 is now preserved at the Alberni Valley Railway, Port Alberni BC and a group of volunteers hope to return it to its original appearance including the high hood. It was chop-nosed by CP but still operated long hood forward. 8427 then worked for Crown Forest Industries between 1980 and 1986 before being acquired by the Ladysmith Railway Historical Society. Photo Wayne Merlo.

Canadian National

The bridge to the east of Charlottetown PEI could not support the RSC13s which operated on the rest of the island (see Freight Operations in Atlantic Canada). So GE 70 Tonners operated on the east of the island. Here 41 in its final livery passes potato reefers in Charlottetown yards in June 1976.

The line between Bridgwater and Caledonia, Nova Scotia was built of light rail and four RSC23s were used to haul mineral trains. Here we see 1803 outside Bridgwater sheds in July 1973.

CN built three Turbo powered trains, with a power unit at each end, for service between Montreal and Toronto. On 26 March 1976 power unit 126 heads a train out of Union Station Toronto to the Spadina servicing yards.


In an attempt to find a less expensive way of providing train service to remote communities VIA tested the British Railways Engineering Limited’s (BREL) railbus, which quite literally was a modified bus on a 4 wheel chassis with a cab at each end. Some two car units are still used in Britain on rural lines and are known as Pacers (classes 141 to 144).

The railbus was tested both in summer and winter between Thompson MB and Pikwitonei MB, on the line to Churchill. It is seen here at Thompson on 30 May 1986.

According to Graeme Clark, who was young mechanical engineer involved in building and testing the vehicle, it was returned to the UK in the late ’80s and was used as a meetings room at the Derby site of BREL before being sold!

Industrial and Shortlines

Fletcher Challenge Canada, Crofton BC

Whitcomb 80D-7b (re-engined with a Caterpillar unit) is the reserve locomotive at the FCC plant at Crofton on 6 June 1995.
All railcars come and go by barge but there is a steep grade from the dock to the plant which made the regular locomotive – SW1500 “Crofthill” – sound great!

Canfor (Englewood Railway), Woss, BC

Canfor operates the last logging railway in Canada in the north of Vancouver Island. Because of the grade down to Beaver Cove they use dynamic braked SW1200RS locomotives.

Here 302 pushes caboose 4102 ahead of it up grade through Woss with a string of empty logcars behind, 11 June 1997.

For more photos and information see Railroading in BC. Our thanks to the management for making us welcome.

BC Hydro, North Westminster, BC

BC Hydro operated a freight hauling railroad through the BC delta from New Westminster to Chilliwack with a connection to the US. The railway has now become the Southern Railway of BC

Here we see an SD38AC # 381 at New Westminster on 23 May 1986.

North Vancouver Grain Terminals, BC

Neptune Terminals shunt their yards in North Vancouver with this Alco T6 (ex Portland Terminals RR) # 46. It is seen here on 21 May 1986.
On my last visit the security guard was most upset that I was taking photos from a hill across the street.

Pioneer Terminals North Vancouver

This Plymouth MDT shunts grain cars at Pioneer Terminals elevators also in North Vancouver and is seen on 21 May 1986.

Amoco Petroleum, Kaybob AB

Amoco Petroleum at Kaybob Alberta (240 Km north-west of Edmonton) operates this diesel hydraulic GMDH1 (one of only four built) to shunt tank cars at its petroleum plant. It was built in 1959 and has elaborate styling reminiscent of automobiles of the period.

The friendly staff started the locomotive so that it could be moved into the sunshine on 26 May 1999. Each diesel engine can be operated separately.

Dow Chemicals, Fort Saskatchewan, AB

This S6 (ex Southern Pacific) is used to haul cars between the CN interchange and the plant at Fort Saskatchewan. After taking this photo from outside the perimeter fence I was interrogated by the Dow police – they thought I was an industrial spy!

Dow Chemicals S6 seen on 1 October 1982, Fort Saskatchewan AB

Canterra Energy, Ram River Falls AB

This CLC DTC 44T (CLC 44H44A1) was originally CP 19 but is seen here as Canterra Energy 2034 literally at the end of the scrap line at the Ram River sulphur plant on 27 September 1982.

On the same day we see one of the two Alco C-415 which had replaced the CLC.

Number 4010 is inside the workshops at the gas desuphurisation plant. the staff kindly opened up the shops so that I could get this picture.

Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway, MB

The water board built a railway to service the dam at Waugh 50 Km to the east of Winnipeg. The railway carried personnel and some passengers in railcars. Mack car 31 was built in 1928 and is seen outside the Winnipeg station on 29 May 1986. It was destroyed in 1991.

A second railcar (built by Brill in 1922) has been re-engined with a Caterpillar unit and is mainly use for MoW purposes. It is seen in the Winnipeg yards on the same day. It is now numbered 205.

Freight was hauled using GE 44 tonners.

100 was acquired new in 1946 and 103 was ex CN # 1 built in 1947. Both are outside the Winnipeg shops on 29 May 1986. These have since been sold to Ontario Southland and Port Stanley Terminal Rail respectively.

Ports Canada, Churchill MB

Ports Canada uses two Plymouth JLB-2s both built in 1930 to switch grain cars at the Port of Churchill, MB.

Ports Canada Number 1 is seen on 31 May 1986.

Spruce Falls Power and Paper, Kapuskasing ON

Spruce Falls Power and Paper (now Kimberley-Clark) operates a dam north of Kapuskasing, ON. Here we see a converted bus used to carry personnel and materials on 10 August 1972.

Bowater Mersey, Liverpool NS

Paper mills usually bring in and send out many shipments by rail. The Bowater Mersey mill at Liverpool, NS used to have an interchange with the CN line (now closed) and the GE 44T (ex CN #2) and Vulcan 25T moved cars around the site. They are seen at the mill on 1 November 1984.

National Gypsum, Dartmouth NS

40 Km north of Dartmouth NS National Gypsum operates one of the largest open pit Gypsum mines in the world. The crushed rock is transported in CN unit trains to the ship loading dock in Dartmouth. Here we see an outside crank GE 45T # 3 pushing loaded cars into the rotary tipper in July 1984. They also use a Hunslet that can be seen at the page on Industrial & Shortlines in Nova Scotia.

Both units have recently been replaced with a reconditioned SW900 that is remotely controlled although the Hunslet is kept as a back-up locomotive.

Cape Breton Development Corporation (Devco) NS

This small 300 Hp EMC Model 40 built in 1940 was one of only eleven manufactured and is seen in the Victoria yards, Sydney NS on 10 December 1986. Further photos of DEVCO locomotives can be seen in Industrial & Shortlines in Nova Scotia.

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Material on this page is copyright 2000-2003 by David and Pat Othen. Reproduced with permission of David’s widow Pat.