Saturday, January 9. on the first big sky sunshine day in Ottawa this year, I managed to convince my better half to accompany me on a tour to Smiths Falls and Brockville, Ontario. lt's a good thing the car has a good heater otherwise she wouldn't have set a foot out the door all day. lf I read the media reports correctly, the cold air extended all the way down to the central Florida area. Wow, imagine you've flown down to Orlando for a vacation at Disney World, the morning temperature is in the upper 30s (F) and you haven't packed extra cold weather clothing
because the new travel restrictions have your former carry on items taking up too much space in your check baggage. Grr-r-r-r. how much fun is that? Can the day be far away when it will be easier to take the train from Ottawa to Orlando rather than fly? Don't laugh, it might be closer than you think.
So a slightly later than planned start has me out along the Smiths Falls Subdivision southwest of Ottawa for a look at VIA 45's train doing track speed and kicking up a good plume of the white stuff (top photo).
We arrived at Smiths Falls just as CP 301's train was starting to pull so I grabbed a shot of a pair of GP38-2's (3105 and 3097) working in the yard and quickly made my way to the west end of town for a look at the grain empty as it accelerated out on to the Belleville Subdivision (middle photo). ln the past this type of traffic would have cycled west through Chalk River and North Bay, but if the Company stays committed to its current operating plan of running via Toronto, it's something that we won't be seeing again anytime soon .... maybe ever!
After a stop for coffee we quickly departed town for Brockville with just enough time to set up for VIA 60 as seen from the William Street overpass (bottom photo). There is construction activity west of the station on the north side of the right-of-way near control location Perth at MP125.8 Kingston Subdivision. lt would appear that work on an additional bridge crossing of Butlers Creek has already begun with the intent of accommodating a new third main track in the westward direction beginning at Brockville. The local track alignment would suggest that the Perth North Service Track (the east switch is visible next to the construction site) will probably be converted into a main track. It would be interesting to know if the site plan calls for re-installation near Williams Street of a turnout in the westward direction off the North Track (it used to provided access to now dismantled trackage behind the station) so that the third main in front of the station can be accessed by all passenger trains, not just those operating between Toronto and Ottawa on the Brockville Subdivision lead.
VIA 60 arrived at Brockville pretty much on time at 15:03 (scheduled away time is 15:02) and was on the move at 15:06 . I then changed locations to get a look at VIA 44 as it turned away from the Kingston Subdivision and proceeded north up CP's Brockville Subdivision (middle photo). Much to my surprise in my going away image (bottom photo) I was able to include some older SIL&H signage that remains free of additional embellishment by the local taggers.
As the sun began to set and with action on the lean side (l just missed getting pix of a westbound freight as we arrived at Brockville) we decided to go for an early supper. We got back to the tracks later in the afternoon after dark just in time to snap a sequence of images of VIA 65, and then we off to Ottawa.
Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, March 2010, page 20.