Ontario Northland in New Brunswick

There have been a few occasions when an Ontario Northland Railway locomotive has wandered into New Brunswick. I think they may have been repaying “horsepower hours” to CN and I was fortunate to see two of these locomotives in the 10 years I was railfanning in New Brunswick.

ONR 2105

CN 2424 and ONR 2105 in Saint John, NB
CN 2424 and ONR 2105 in Saint John, NB

ONR 2105 visited the Maritimes in the summer of 2004 and again in March 2005. I didn’t see it in 2004 but I have a photo in my library showing it leading a train out of Halifax on June 28, 2004. I wish I knew who the photographer was so I could share the photo here!

ONR 2105 is an SD75I locomotive, very similar to the CN 5626-5800 series of locomotives. I believe the six Ontario Northland SD75Is (2100-2105) were an add-on to the CN order from EMD.

Bob Boudreau spotted it in Saint John, NB on March 14, 2005 and posted a few photos. It was paired with CN 2424 and came down from Moncton as the power for the Moncton-Saint John train CN 305.

Knowing that the power for CN 305 tended to stay on the train for several days, I was fortunate to be able to go to Saint John on the 16th.

As the photo above shows, I found it at mid-morning along Rothesay Avenue in CN’s Island Yard, still coupled up to CN 2424 (and CN 2669). It wasn’t very accessible for photographs but I was happy to get what I could.

Second Chance

Later that day, I tried to see it in the yard but it was gone. Fortunately, I found it – turning on the wye!

The three locomotives, and several freight cars, were turning on the wye near the intersection of Thorne Avenue and Bayside Drive. In the photo below, the tail of the train is on the line leading to the refinery. They were just finishing turning when I found them, so ONR 2105 is just backing off of the wye. The track in the foreground leads to Island Yard.

ONR 2105 turning on the wye in Saint John, NB
ONR 2105 turning on the wye in Saint John, NB

After the conductor relined the switch, they proceeded forward. By this time I had relocated to the other side to capture them from the other side.

ONR 2105 in Saint John, NB
ONR 2105 in Saint John, NB

The photos above are stills from the video I took, which you can view below.

In 2005, all I had for a camera was a Sony digital video camera. The reason for that is coming right up…

ONR 1734

Ontario Northland 1734 in Saint John, NB
Ontario Northland 1734 in Saint John, NB

In December 2001, I heard that ONR 1734 was in Saint John. I’m not sure what day I heard about it, but I took the photograph above on December 17, 2001.

ONR 1734 is one of eight SD40-2 locomotives purchased by Ontario Northland.

This photo is noteworthy to me for a few reasons. One, it was the first Ontario Northland unit I had ever photographed. Second, it was the last photo I ever took with my film camera.


When I took that photo, the mirror in my Minolta Maxxum 5000i locked in place. Normally on an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, the mirror stays down while you look through the viewfinder, then flips up briefly to get out of the subject-lens-shutter-film light path before dropping down again.

In my camera, that mirror flipped up and I got the shot, but the mirror stayed up… forever.

No matter what I tried, that mirror wasn’t coming down. I took the camera home, recharged the battery, cycled the power… nothing worked. I ended up shelving the camera and not taking any photos for several months.

Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t try having the camera repaired. I think I was short on funds and really couldn’t afford to repair it. We were getting ready to get married the following spring and money was a bit tight. I ended up buying that Sony video camera I mentioned, and I sold the pieces of my old Minolta kit on eBay.

I’m just glad my last film photo was a decent one!

ONR 1735

The funny thing is that I see in my sighting database that I recorded ONR 1735 in Saint John on December 3, 2001. I have no memory of seeing that unit. Apparently it was between CN 5773 and CN 5520.

I thought maybe I was really recording what someone else said they saw, but I see on the same day I recorded the three CN GP9RM units in Saint John (CN 7068, CN 7059 and CN 7074).

Maybe I didn’t have my camera with me?

Bonus ONR Content

Here’s a model of the Northlander train rolling around a layout at the Winnipeg model train show on October 16, 2010…

Just One More Thing

Here are a few more Ontario Northland resources.

4 thoughts on “Ontario Northland in New Brunswick”

  1. I have a few photos in my “from film ” collection; north of Toronto with that European trainset they had. Really sharp looking trainset but apparently not exactly trouble-free. I found the locomotive scrapped near some tracks in North Bay a few years later.
    It’s a shame the province has cut their budget and won’t support the passenger trains any more; I had planned to ride the train from Huntsville all the way north during the summer of the year it was abolished.

    • Hi Steve, I’d love to see those photos of the TEE trainset! It was pretty unique for Canada.

      The power had a lot more trouble than the cars did. I understand they used F units to power the trainset until the end of the Northlander.

      Someday I hope to get to see the ONR “in person”.


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