Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Top 100 Photos of All Time! Part Three.

Photo Number 89: In a Blast of Snow

Kicking up the snow as the local Section inspects the consist while they're "in the hole", southbound 422 Northlander roars through Val Gagne, Ontario located at Mile 76 of Ontario Northland's Ramore Subdivision November 18, 2011.

Photo Number 88: Drift Clearing at Mile 3

A shot from January 2005 where I catch a side view of 421 Little Bear lead unit GP38-2 1800 clearing out drifting snow accumulated during a blizzard at mile 3 of the Island Falls Subdivision.

Photo Number 87: Rolling In From Hearst

Thundering past Kapuskasing Subdivision's Mile 82, southbound 516 with GP40-2's 2201 and 2202 providing the muscle, makes it's way to Kapuskasing from Hearst to meet up with 313 from Cochrane June 26, 2011.

Photo Number 86: The Mixed

It's August 2003 as I meet up with the power for a Monday morning 421 being lined up by Trainman Phil to pick up the mix of 45 foot trailers on piggyback cars and private vehicles tied down on "chain" cars both of which are loaded at Cochrane Yard's ramp located on the former CN side.

Photo Number 85: It's Cold... Damned Cold

It's January 26, 2004 and the morning's GP38-2 & FP7au Little Bear power await her crew as a snow fighter works the Shops. Yup, that's ice fog. That morning's temperature was a chilly -40 Celsius....BRRR!!!

Watch for "The Top 100 Photos of All Time Part Four" coming soon!


Friday, April 19, 2019

On Board the 660

On Friday April 19, 2019 I was given the opportunity to take a look at the interior of one of Ontario Northland's newly built accessibility coaches numbered as the 660 series at Cochrane Shops. 2 in total were built. Today we look at the 660.
The cars are absolutely spacious, maintaining that quality design of the 650 series coaches, but with newly implemented elements that will accommodate anyone with mobility issues.
On the top left is one of the features of the car which is a wheelchair lock down with a permanent table.

In the October 2018 issue of the ON News, a write up on the 660 reads that this newly built car was designed based on the Canadian Transportation Authority Code of Practice - Rail Car Accessibility and Terms and Conditions of Carriage by Rail of Persons with Disabilities, and CSA Standards.
On the middle left is the newly designed accessible washroom with a ton of space and a power assisted door. The photo doesn't do this washroom justice because it is huge! On the other end of the coach is the regular, smaller washroom.

There are also more specialized storage areas that are exclusive of the 660 series coaches.
As you can see on the bottom left, the safety features and emergency exits are similar to all other 650 series coaches and are supplied in seat pockets at every seat. These same guides are also posted on the walls at each end of the car.
Today, both the 660 and the 661 are busily working the 421-622 Polar Bear Express with one of these cars always included in the consist.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Top 100 Photos of All Time! Part Two

Photo Number 94: Repeating History

Memories of days of old were relived on this particular Little Bear trip March 2002 as 2000 series FP7au's were run 'back to back' much like they did when they were the 1500 series FP7a. The Bear is seen here exchanging waves between a Car Man and the Head End Crew as it rolls into Cochrane.

Photo Number 93: Say Cheese!

The southbound Polar Bear Express rolls out from the bushes, comes to a halt, and poses for us on The Moose River Crossing at Mile 142.5 of the Island Falls Subdivision during a torrential downpour June 2002.

Photo Number 92: Go Bear Go!

A shot from August 16th 2005 as we capture the northbound 423 Polar Bear Express racing past mile 5 of the Island Falls Subdivision.

Photo Number 91: Say Hello to Choo Choo!

A fun photoshoot for Ontario Northland from way back in June 2003 featuring Polar Bear Express mascot "Choo Choo"

Photo Number 90: Hello Down There

Here's a photo snapped from one of Cochrane Yard's gigantic snow banks February 2002. This time featuring GP9 1605 and today's Yard Crew as they run around the recently arrived Little Bear's freight traffic in order to await inspections of the cars and spot 622's freight consist.

Stay tuned for the Top 100 Part Three! Coming Soon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Graveside Gathering for Stephen Thompson

Anyone who worked, photographed, or modeled the railway in Northern Ontario over the last few decades likely would have met and/or befriended Stephen Thompson.

Steve sadly passed away on December 26th, 2018 in North Bay.

A Graveside Gathering will be held on May 7th, 2019 at 11:30 am at the Terrace Lawn Cemetery on the corner of O'Brien and Airport Road in North Bay. It's very easy to find. Simply turn off Highway 11 at Airport Road, drive to the first traffic light, turn right on O'Brien and you will see the Cemetery right away on your left.

To quote one of Steve's very good friends Val Croswell, " The railroad fraternity was very important to Steve's parents as they were deeply involved in the organization of the NMRA and attended many conventions in the US and Canada. They even hosted one in North Bay. Steve's friends were also in the "Train World" with model railroaders chasing trains for photos and video in order to enjoy and preserve that industry."

Everyone is welcome to join us in North Bay at the Terrace Lawn Cemetery as we honor our good friend Stephen Thompson.

See You There,


Monday, April 8, 2019

March 2019 In Pictures

An extra yard job was called at Cochrane March 4th in order to move over 20 stored cars from a North Yard storage track in order to gain access to ONR's spreader 528. Here we see GP38-2 1800 pulling a string of cars in order to allow Section to remove some of the snow in that area of the yard.

Tim and Shawn haul northbound 113 into Englehart from North Bay March 16, 2019 with SD40-2 1730 and SD75I 2105 on point.

214 on the left is ready to pull after the crew transfers from 113's power on the right at Englehart March 16, 2019.

Welding up a switch frog at Englehart March 16, 2019.

Southbound 308 stands ready to roll at Kidd with SD40-2 1734 on point March 17, 2019. That build up of snow you see was picked up on the "lake bottom" portion of the Ramore Subdivision when the train was northbound.

The morning sunrise bounces off the glistening blue paint of newly acquired APCU's 221 and 220 at Cochrane Shops March 30, 2019.

March 30, 2019's "Saturday Shops Shot" features a view from the air of Ontario Northland's newly acquired APCU's 221 and 220 at Cochrane Shops.
A pogo stick view of APCU 221 providing a closer view of the top of therecently built unit captured at Cochrane Shops March 30, 2019.
Another view of Ontario Northland's recently purchased APCU's captured at Cochrane March 30, 2019.

An "Inter-generational generator" photo captured at Cochrane Shops featuring 205 and 221 March 30, 2019.

Train 999 Work 1735 powers through the community of Ramore ( mile 56 of the Ramore Subdivision) clearing snow and ice build up from a rather notorious winter season March 23, 2019.
The flanger of spreader 529 bites down hard in a flurry of thrown ice and snow as Work 1735 clears the rails of the Ramore Subdivision at Swastika March 23, 2019.

Railroad Photographer Kevin Burkholder of Steel Wheels Photography takes an opportunity to get some close up photos of Heritage liveried SD40-2 1730 at Cochrane Yard March 18, 2019.

Tim and Shawn are busting up the snowdrifts aboard SD75I 2104 as 214 rolls by mile 129 of the Temagami Sub March 15, 2019.

Northbound 213 with Heritage painted SD40-2 1730 on point roars through mile 23 of the Devonshire Subdivision March 18, 2019.

Clearing switches at Kidd (mile 104 of the Ramore Sub) March 17, 2019.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Cochrane Shops' New Stores

Here we see the 2 story Stores area at Cochrane Shops

On April 6, 2019 I was able to check out Cochrane Shops' new Stores addition which was built over the late summer and early fall of 2018.

To sum it all up in one word, this new addition to the Shops is "spacious". Space is of course an absolute necessity when it comes to storing parts and supplies for a busy place like Cochrane Shops and this new 2 story addition utilizes that space perfectly.

One feature that I found interesting about this new addition to the Shops is that instead of
installing a lift in order to move parts and  supplies to the second level, a forklift is used to not only to unload pallets of parts and supplies from the many shipping companies that deliver here, but also lifts heavier bulk items to the second level. If you look at the photo on the top left, you'll see the in-house forklift and the gates that are built in to the second level handrails for loading and unloading from the forklift.

On the first floor is the counter where items are marked down and accounted for and a full network of shelves for stocking all of the smaller items that can be easily accessed throughout a busy day.

The lighting in this new addition is very bright which is also a huge plus in regards to employee safety.

As responsibilities increase at Cochrane Shops, it's encouraging to see Ontario Northland take the initiative and build a fully functional and spacious Stores to not only house what is needed in order for the Shops to function today, but to ensure that there's ample space for any other responsibilities the Shops could be tackling in the future.

Here is a look at the 2nd level of the new Stores. As you can see, there's plenty of room for storage.

Great job all!


Saturday, April 6, 2019

April 6, 2019: Inside the APCU's!

APCU's 220 and 221 perched on 2 track at Cochrane Shops
On Saturday April 6, 2019, I dropped in to Cochrane Shops to catch up with some of the crew who were working this chilly Saturday and embark on a little "shop talk" with some old friends like Rick, Jonathan, Chad, and Peter.

I was given the opportunity to view some of the changes that the Diesel Shops have made over the last few months which included the new Stores expansion which is now in full swing after being built in the summer of 2018 (We'll take a look at that on another post).

Today was all about the APCU's. After seeing that they were obviously moved from the APU Track at the Shops, I was curious as to where they could be. I was quickly told that they were safely stowed away on Track 2 where workers from NRE (National Railway Equipment, the builders of these APCU's) were working on the units.

After snapping some exterior shots of the 220 and 221 under the bright lights of the Diesel Shop, I climbed the Conductor-side ladder, said a friendly "Hello in there", and was immediately greeted by 3 American fellas hard at work with work lights, testers, and tools tackling different jobs that were required for them to perform on 221.

After handing out some business cards, talking about these great looking former Amtrak F40PH's, and having a little chat about uniquely northern issues like how our snow will still be here in May, I expressed to them how I would be eternally grateful if I could capture a shot of the cab interior. They suggested I scoot on over to unit 220 since they haven't opened any compartments on it yet unlike the 221 which was the unit they were focusing their attention on today. I immediately thanked them and moved further back to unit 220.

Once I climbed into 220 I saw a very spacious cab which F40PH's were very widely appreciated for during their peak years in the 80's and 90's. I took a few photos then proceeded to the generator section of the unit. Once there, I noticed a ton of room on each side of the diesel generators which I know will definitely be a hit with the shops workers that will have to service these things. I snapped a relatively dark photo that, if you look carefully, will see the entrance door from the rear pilot just to show you how roomy this section actually is.

To sum up, I really can't wait to hear these units fire up for the first time and I would like to Thank everyone working the Saturday day shift at Cochrane Shops for allowing me the opportunity to spend a little time around these APCU's.

If you would like more information on NRE, visit their website at


Friday, April 5, 2019

The Top 100 Photos of All Time! Part One

Photo Number 100: Hello Sunshine!

It was indeed a one in a million photo opportunity that just had to be captured. Cochrane had just gone through one of this year's fiercest thunder storms. With the town thorughly soaked from the downpour and the thick thunder clouds heading south, the setting sun breaks through to illuminate Cochrane Station to make it look almost "Cathedral-like" June 2002.

Photo Number 99: The Mighty Moose!

The Moose River bridge at Mile 142.5, Ontario Northland's longest span as seen from the cab of GP38-2 1806 pulling June 28, 2001's northbound Polar Bear Express. Truly a breathtaking sight. It's not the highest bridge I've ever seen, but as I mentioned, this thing's long. The fact that the train slows to a snail's pace while crossing gives everyone aboard an opportunity to check out the spectacular view.

Photo Number 98: The Journey Marches On.

The southbound Northlander (422) rolls in to Englehart, Ontario on the Ramore Subdivision on a sunny morning in May 2002 lead by FP7au 2000. Englehart is the changing point for the Head End Crew and the Train number changes from 422 to 222 for the remainder of the trip to North Bay, Ontario where CN Crews will take over the operation of the Northlander to Toronto.

Photo Number 97: The Last Few Miles to Home.

It's a sunny and warm Thursday afternoon in July 2002 as we meet up with FP7AU 2001 and GP38-2 1804 leading southbound 622 (The Little Bear) at Mile 4.5 of the Island Falls Subdivision roaring by at full speed for the last few miles of the journey to Cochrane.

Photo Number 96: A Friendly Wave From Moose River.

Terry, one of Moose River's residents we met during our first expedition to Mile 142 gives a wave to the arriving southbound Little Bear June 2002. If you look carefully you'll see FP7au 2002's Engineman Gary waving back.

Photo Number 95: Full Speed at Mile Five.

Here's a photo snapped along the Island Falls Subdivision at Mile 5 July 2002 as the Polar Bear Express journeys north 186 miles to Moosonee on the James bay coast with back to back FP7au's doing the honors.

Stay Tuned for Part Two of The Top 100 Photos of All Time Coming Soon!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

April 2019. A New Way to Look at Things...

Welcome everyone to the new Our 20th Anniversary is quickly approaching and I just thought that it was time to switch things up.

Rather than maintain the same old "snoozefest" photo gallery filled to the brim with images that over time and updated technology just started looking smaller and grainier, I took a big deal of time, thought it through from start to finish, and decided that perhaps it was not only an opportunity to get rid of some of the crappier photos that were part of the original, but to actually display what I felt as my best photos ever taken of the Ontario Northland all wrapped up in a nice, easy to navigate package.

Why the change? Well, in a nutshell, life got in the way. With my professional duties, some recent health concerns, and some other projects in the works for both myself and the ONRH&TS, I thought it would lessen my workload AND provide an easier navigating experience for those who choose to visit this website. Also, with this lovely blog software and hosting, I can refocus my energies on just keeping regular visitors informed of what I get to see along the mighty rails of the Ontario Northland without having to use a variety of obsolete website building software in order to create something that will be able to be viewed and enjoyed from any particular forum that you , as the reader, choose to use from a wall-sized big screen to the smallest cell phone. Anybody, anywhere can read about my life in general along the Ontario Northland without having to deal with a relatively simplistically designed website which would basically display oddly on certain forums. And of course, as technology has changed over the last 20 years, some of the photos that were part of just began to look absolutely crappy. Those days are over.

But, don't worry. I still have an archive of photos at home and everyone is welcome to drop me a line if your searching for anything from historic photos, to modelling details of certain ONR equipment. If I got it, I'll be happy to share it. Simply drop me an email at and I'll see if I can help you out.

I truly hope you enjoy the new changes, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to touch base in the comment section below.

Thank you to everyone who has supported over the last 20 years. I hope that this new format will allow you to be right there with me as I capture images of Ontario Northland's Rail Division.