That Worked Out Well

It was far too nice an evening to sit inside. We had fresh snow on the ground, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the temperature was hovering around freezing. A very pleasant evening for early April in Winnipeg.

I checked VIA’s web site and the westbound Canadian, VIA 1, was on time and about an hour away from Winnipeg. Saddle up!

Once I was on the east side of Winnipeg and near Dugald, I checked VIA’s site again and saw they were approaching Anola. I decided I had time to get to Dugald and catch them passing the grain elevator there.

Normally I would park by the curling club in town, but the lot was full! I guess there was some kind of tournament going on. I parked on the street and checked my phone again. VIA was almost in town!

I grabbed my camera and drone, and sprinted toward the baseball diamond and the track beside it. Tromping through the snow (in my sneakers) I made it to a spot near the tracks and launched my drone. Alas, it only had 48% battery power. I guess I hadn’t charged it recently… the perils of not taking photos regularly.

I didn’t think the battery power would be an issue, since VIA was imminent… or was it?

After a few minutes of waiting, I peeked down the tracks and saw nothing. I checked my phone and it said VIA was crossing highway 15, so it was still coming, but not nearly as fast as I thought it would be.

Then I looked over my shoulder and saw the east-facing signals were red over red. VIA was stopping at Dugald.

Soon I saw the Canadian‘s headlights a few kilometres to the east. I sighed and landed my drone, with 21% power remaining. I packed it up and hiked back to my car, where I left the drone and grabbed my tripod.

Back trackside, I watched as the Canadian went into the siding and slowly crawled up to the elevator. At 6:40 PM they stopped with the locomotives in the shadow of the elevator, then advanced a few more car lengths. Thanks for putting the engines in the sun!

I was pleased to see that the lead locomotive was in the “Love the Way” paint scheme. That photographs better than the regular “Renaissance” colours, in my opinion. The elevator looked great with the low sun reflecting off the tin siding.

After taking a bunch of pictures from near the baseball field, I tromped east through the snow toward the train and elevator. By this time my feet were thoroughly wet and cold!

I found a spot I liked for my tripod and planted it in the snow to support my phone.

After that, there wasn’t much to do but wait.

I couldn’t help but think that the grain elevator wasn’t much older than the passenger cars on the Canadian! The Dugald grain elevator was built in 1948 to replace the one destroyed in the Dugald train disaster of 1947. Many of the cars in the Canadian were built by Budd in the next decade to equip the new Canadian Pacific Railway “Canadian”, which debuted in 1955.

An hour after they arrived, a CN freight train came rolling east on the main line.

The sun was getting low by that time (7:40 PM) but it was still high enough to light things up nicely.

Moments after the tail end of the CN freight passed VIA’s head end, the Canadian started rolling toward Winnipeg.

VIA Rail train by a grain elevator

For those who care, this was the consist of VIA 2.

  • VIA 6437
  • VIA 6440
  • VIA Emerald (diner)
  • VIA 8517 (Skyline)
  • VIA 8616 (baggage)
  • VIA 8112 (coach)
  • VIA 8516 (Skyline)
  • VIA Amherst Manor
  • VIA Bayfield Manor
  • VIA Brant Manor
  • VIA Wolfe Manor
  • VIA Palliser (diner)
  • VIA Chateau Dollard
  • VIA Laurentide Park
  • VIA Cameron Manor

The “Emerald” and VIA 8517 were unoccupied, which is normally called “deadheading” in railway parlance. Emerald had recently been refurbished and had its “Churchill” wrap stripped from it.

The tail end Park car had a “buffer car” tacked on the end of it, ruining the view from the bullet lounge in Laurentide Park.

That was a very satisfying encounter with the Canadian – a view of it I hadn’t seen before.

Here’s the video I took of the Canadian and the passing CN train. It was one continuous shot, but I cut out most of the CN train from the video I posted.

Just One More Thing

Eric Gagnon has been writing about VIA’s buffer cars on his excellent Trackside Treasure blog. Coincidentally he recently wrote about VIA’s refurbished diner cars too. His blog really is a treasure trove of information. Check it out!

Also… I really enjoyed this CBC video showing Styx drummer Todd Sucherman playing with Grand Chief Ron Tremblay and Wolastoqey singers in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

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