Back on February 18, 2019, I was sitting at home, wondering what to do. It was Louis Riel Day, a holiday here in Manitoba, which always amuses me. As someone who was schooled primarily in eastern Canada, I was taught that Louis Riel was a traitor to Canada who was justifiably hung for his crimes. When I started visiting the west, I quickly realized that they had a different story, a lot more nuanced than the plain tale of treason that I learned as a child. In Manitoba, Louis Riel is hailed as a founding father and his name is everywhere in Winnipeg. But I digress.
The Obvious Answer
When I’m wondering what to do, railfanning is something that immediately comes to mind. It was a Monday, so the westbound Canadian (VIA 1) is always a good train to catch. However, VIA 1 was super late, so that was out.
However, VIA 2 was also super late, which meant it was coming into Winnipeg during the daylight hours. Normally the eastbound Canadian snuck into town in the middle of the night, but this was a rare opportunity to photography it. Off I went.
I reached the Rivers subdivision and immediately saw a westbound train around mile 11. I gave chase along the road paralleling the tracks, mindful of the snow and ice on the road. The train I was chasing had CN 2232 with five other locomotives – a bit of a power move, I guess.
There was a train stopped on the south track at mile 15, CN 2836 East. I didn’t get there before CN 2232 West passed them, so I didn’t pause to get 2836. Six locomotives on one train is pretty rare, so I stuck with that.
As I continued on toward mile 17, I spotted the Canadian in the distance, stopped on the north track. I got ahead of the CN train and screeched to a halt, hopping out to record the approaching train with my phone.
In a cloud of blowing snow, I pivoted to catch the train passing the stopped Canadian.
The train had CN 2232 / CN 2931 / CN 8925 / CN 2303 / CN 8930 / CN 8870.
Container after container thundered by, while the VIA Rail train sat and waited. I’m not sure why they weren’t able to proceed east on the north track, but clearly they were not the highest priority train out there!
There was a collection of general freight cars on the tail end of the train. Finally the last tank car passed VIA 6434…
I thought VIA would start moving right away, but they continued to sit there. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to linger, so I took some photos and then went on my way.
Back eastward I went to see CN 2836.
CN 2836 East
They were still stopped when I arrived, but shortly afterward they started moving. I took video.
You’ll note that the train had a mid-train locomotive, CN 2982.
After watching that train go by, I decided to check on VIA one more time before heading home. As I drove west, I saw them heading toward me, so I pulled off and recorded a short video of the train passing by.
So that was a good Louis Riel Day – a couple of CN trains and VIA Rail. Not a bad way to spend an hour or two on a holiday.