Virtual Railfan Tour - Sons of Martha Cairns

  This map shows the ten locations of the Sons of Martha Cairns. But first, an explanation. Harry McLean was a contractor who built a number of large engineering projects in the 1920s and 1930s. His company, Dominion Construction, was located at Deeks, Ontario, near Merrickville, south of Ottawa. Deeks was located on the Canadian Pacific Railway Winchester subdivision between Merrickville and Smits Falls. At Deeks there was a machine shop and storage sidings for the railway equipment that was used on the company's projects. There was also a narrow gauge railway which serviced a stone crushing plant that provided a great deal of railway ballast. This was managed by another company, Grenville Crushed Rock. Full details of the Deeks operation with its extensive roster of locomotives can be found in my article in Branchline of January 2009 which you can find here:   Teresa Charland wrote an excellent biography of "Big Pants&q

Virtual Railfan Tour - The Churchill, Manitoba, Line - A Postscript

 Churchill is, of course, famous for the polar bears which inhabit the place, mainly, I believe in winter. I never saw a polar bear in my travels but one of my staff did. We were funding some track improvements to the line as part of the Prairie Branchline Rehabilitation Program. Part of this was to extend the siding at Herchmer which was mid way in a long stretch of single line. As part of this I sent one of my staff to take a look at the work. Being based in Ottawa I thought it would be a good idea for him to see the results of out work in the field. So here is this official from Ottawa travelling to deepest, darkest, Manitoba to see the work which was taking place several miles south of Churchill in the "land of the little sticks". He arrived at the work site where a gang of men were working. There was an "Atco shack" (a type of container with living quarters) in the siding where the men were living. The shack had a flat roof. The first thing he was told on arriv

Virtual Railfan Tour - The Line to Churchill, Manitoba

Canadian National Passenger train for Churchill at Wabowden. The line to Hudsons Bay was built to provide an additional port for prairie grain shipments which did not require the long land movements either through the west coast of BC or through Thunder Bay and the St. Lawrence.    The original concept was for the shipping terminal to be located at Port Nelson and work was started there on the construction of a harbour as well as work on the line from Gillam.  However, in 1927, hydrological studies suggested that there would be difficulties for vessels to navigate as far as Port Nelson and the decision was taken to abandon Port Nelson and build anew at Churchill. This decision resulted in an abrupt curve at the then end of track and the line ran in a straight line, some 200 miles directly to Churchill. I made the trip to Churchill a couple of times while working on grain transportation. This was taken at the same time as the picture above, I think the dog adds to the interest. There is

Virtual Railfan Tour - Thurso and Nation Valley Railway Car 27 - Two Postscripts

Raymond Farand picture of PR train 85 leaving Thurso with car 27 and the BRS caboose on the rear 29 March 1988. Bruce Chapman has sent these notes on the power used on that day "I was working in Montreal  in the diesel dispatch that morning.  8242 had just come out of Angus off a rebuild from 8835 on March 15th 1988, It had been working in St. Luc yard for a day or 2 before its dispatch on #85. The 2nd unit of which I cannot read the number was due in Angus the following day for its rebuild.  8242 was the first of 7 units with 26L brakes for road service, a more modern brakestand than the rest of the first generation 4-axle fleet at the time which had the 24RL brake stand. "1839 was also recently off a rebuild from the 8783, outshopped on November 10th,1987." Another item about car 27 that should be mentioned concerns its construction. It was always thought that it had been built in the CPR Farnham, QC., shops in 1907.but there was no documented proof. While working on t

Virtual Railfan Tour - Thurso and Nation Valley Railway Car 27 Moves to Ottawa

 The pictures on this page are by kind permission of Raymond Farand. They may not be used in any way without Raymond's consent. Canadian Pacific train 85 leaving Thurso with car 27 on 29 March 1988 Leaving Thurso with the BRS van and car 27 just in front of the CP van. This position in the train would tend to minimize the draft gear forces on car 27 which has a wooden frame. Another shot at Thurso CP train 85 at Gatineau, QC the same day 29 March 1988 CP 85 in Hull, QC. The rear of CP 85 in Hull, QC., with the two precious cars in front of the CP van. With CP 85 having arrived at Walkley Yard, Ottawa, ON, the two cars are transferred to this yard job, same day 29 March 1988. The yard job en route to the National Museum of Science and Technology. The yard job delivering the BRS van into the siding at the National Museum of Science and Technology. Car 27 is on the right hand side. Initially car 27 was taken to the National Research Council for storage. View from inside the car. The C

Virtual Railfan Tour - Last Day on the Thurso and Nation Valley Railway

  Flooded track on the last day of operation It was announced in February 1986 that the line would close later that year. A full account of the operations leading up tp closure can be found here: We made several trips up the line with car 27 and the BRS van. Gaetan Lafleur, the superintendent of the railway, had given us every assistance to rebuild car 27 and helped us to explore his railway The last day of operation was Friday 26 September, 1986. Locomotive #12, three flatcars and the rail mounted crane with clamshell attached, went as far as Duhamel to pick up salvageable materials. Car 27 and the BRS caboose brought up the rear. Two beaver dams had to be broken out with the clamshell. In one place the track was flooded to two inches above the rail. At Singer they picked up two overturned log cars in the loading area. These had been cut up into pieces as it was easier to this than to bring them back to Thurso on wheels. We stoppe

Virtual Railfan Tour - Thurso and Nation Valley Railway - The Final Years

After the main work on car 27 had been completed there was but a short time to enjoy the line before it closed The three GE 70 tonners obtained from Canadian National were all painted in the full Thurso livery with the yellow stripes on the nose. They would all work in multiple together. However, No. 13, third locomotive shown here, was not fitted with multiple unit connections and had to be operated independent of the others. Distinguished by the broad white stripe, No. 13 would be idling along the flat here and would only be brought into operation for the uphill sections. The fall colours in 1985 were spectacular. We were given the opportunity to enjoy the peace and solitude of Iroquois and to watch 70 tonners climb the hill with a heavy train Iroquois We took some final pictures at Iroquois On of of the later trips our car was left on the main line at Lac de la Ferme Another time we were privileged to enjoy a final sunset at mile 56, the end of the line.