The Porter – First Impressions

The CBC TV series “The Porter” is out – at least, the first episode is – and it’s a visual delight. From the opening scene, set in Club Stardust and filled to bursting with Black life and music, through its numerous train-based scenes, “The Porter” is a meticulously detailed view of Black life from the point of view of 1920s railway porters.

In Canada at the time, the profession of railway porter was one of the few decent paying jobs open to Black men. You can read more about porters here but I want to talk about the show here.

Many of the scenes were filmed here in Winnipeg, and the Prairie Dog Central Railway’s steam locomotive #3 and century-old passenger cars are featured prominently in several scenes.

For example, the photo below shows #3 and the train at the PDC’s Inkster Junction station in Rosser, Manitoba.

Train at station in “The Porter”. Copyright by CBC.

There are some scenes showing a facsimile of the train rolling through 1920s industrial Montreal, which seem to be entirely digital. There was some digital magic added to the scene below, which shows the porters walking to the “Montreal” station.

Porters walking to the "Montreal" station.
Porters walking to the “Montreal” station. Copyright by CBC.

Compare the scene above to the photo I took today in downtown Winnipeg (below).

Most people who have been to Winnipeg will recognize the two passenger cars at left as two that are on display at the Forks downtown. There are some digital alterations to remove the CityTV satellite dishes and replace Union Station’s dome with a Montreal skyline.

One scene was shot in this very ornate car. I have no idea what car this is. My guess is that it was filmed at the Canadian Railway Museum outside Montreal but I don’t know.

Scene in an ornate rail car. Copyright by CBC.

There are several story lines going on simultaneously and I’m really looking forward to upcoming episodes.

I highly recommend you watch this show… not just for the trains but for the story!

Watch it on CBC Gem or through whatever streaming service you have!

When they were filming, I photographed the Prairie Dog Central en route to downtown and back again in Prairie Dog Central, Movie Star!

4 thoughts on “The Porter – First Impressions”

  1. Alas down south in our neck of the woods we are not able to access this series due to rightss restrictions, hopefully it may end up on Youube or some other outlet!

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