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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Gone, but Not Forgotten (It is in my "backyard")

The picture on the front of this post card shows what the diesel engine number 9000 looks like with a similarly painted B unit as it hauls freight out of Oshawa, Ontario on April 3, 1953. The locomotive
has had a bit of an identity crisis over its years. It was built in May of 1948 as an F3A class, V-1-a by EMD. It was later reclassified as a V-1-A-a in January of 1950 and once again reclassified in September of 1954 as a GFA-15a. After seeing 33 years of service on the Canadian National Railway (CNR) mainlines, it was retired on October 8, 1971. The locomotive travelled over 4.1 million kilometers (2.6 million miles) during its time in service. The CNR had used diesels for about 20 years before they ordered this one; but, these other diesels were always used in yards for shunting around cars. This locomotive was intended to be used for regular road freight service. Number 9000 is worthy of preservation because it was the first production road freight locomotive built for a Canadian railway. It was donated by CNR to the Alberta Pioneer Railway Association in November of 1971. It is currently being kept and used at the Alberta Pioneer Railway Museum in the northeast of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. The association of volunteers restores train-related memorabilia (including Number 9000). It was ready for service, after being painted in the CNR freight colours, in 1996, just in time to "star" in the move "In Cold Blood".
The photo on the front is credited to J. Wm. Hood. It was published by JBC Visuals out of Toronto, Ontario. I can find nothing about the history of the JBC Visuals Company.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Last of this Series

This is the last of the post cards about which I will blog, from the collection of cards that my friend gave to me from his family's history. This post card shows the train depot at Clatskanie, Oregon. It is a station on the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway. I will be blogging about this Railway and the devious manner in which it came into existence to compete with the Union Pacific Railroad. I could find very little about Clatskanie on the internet. It was close to an ammunition depot used by the military. So it is probably where the families and members of the military got off the train to go to the base. I looked at a map of the town today. There is a set of tracks that go through the town, still, and there is a Depot Street near the tracks. But, AMTRAK does not stop there. If you want to take AMTRAK, they do provide a bus to pick you up to take you to the nearest actual AMTRAK station.
The post card was published by the Patton Post Card Company out of Salem, Oregon. Oregon State University has three collections of works by this company. Edwin Cooke Patton was born August 12, 1868 in Salem. In 1908, he operated a Post Card Studio and the largest post card store in the Northwest in conjunction with Patton Brothers Bookstore in Salem. Patton’s studio was responsible for many early real photo views of Northwestern Oregon and the Coast. Patton was a magician in his spare time. He died December 24, 1929 in Woodburn, Oregon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

I Drive One of These!!

The picture on the front of this post card is of a streetcar that used to ply
the streets of my home town, Edmonton. It is one of three post cards I have of the streetcars of Edmonton. One is a restored streetcar that is driven in Fort Edmonton Park and one is an original post card from between 1908 and 1918. I have posted about both of these cards already. This post card was given to me, along with the post cards from the prevous three blog posts, by a friend of mine. The title of the blog is "I One of These" because I belong to the Edmonton Radial Railway Society. We restore old streetcars and drive them in Fort Edmonton Park and across the High Level Bridge in Edmonton. This is from Wikipedia: In 1908, the Government of Alberta passed the Edmonton Radial Tramway Act, permitting the city to provide tramway service to communities located within 80 miles of the city. With this power, the city purchased the Strathcona Radial Tramway Company Ltd., and began providing streetcar service to the City of Strathcona as well. The radial railway reached its greatest extent in 1930. Two years later, in 1932, bus service replaced streetcar service on the 102 Avenue line. In the following years, the Edmonton trolley bus system replaced streetcar service on most Edmonton Radial Railway routes, and streetcar service ended in 1951.
The back of the post card tells us that this is a card printed and published by Valentine & Sons. It was printed just after October of 1913. I have about 30 cards from one variation of the Valentine Company or another: Valentine Souvenir, Valentine & Sons, etc.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Historic Station in Pennsylvania

Continuing on the theme of gifted post cards from a friend... This one is of a train station in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. This is some historic information about the station taken from this website: The Elizabethtown depot first opened to the public in 1915, and was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Strategically sited with entrances on the north and south sides of the embankment that supports the railroad right-of-way, the station easily served residents of the Masonic Homes and the town. Visually, the depot clearly references the architecture of the nearby Masonic Grand Lodge Hall which was designed in the Collegiate Gothic style by the well-known Philadelphia-based firm of Zantzinger, Borie & Medary. The cornerstone of the Grand Lodge Hall was laid in 1911; two years later, the architects were hired by the PRR to draw up plans for an improved passenger station. The one story structure features a steep, gabled slate roof and a tall chimney. Walls of rough Holmesburg granite are laid in a random ashlar pattern that is accented by smooth-cut Indiana limestone used for window and door trim as well as coping. The passenger waiting room, which features warm, rich wood paneling and decorative roof trusses, is brightened by sunlight that enters through a tall window on the west fa├žade. Passengers exit the station to access staircases to the platforms, as well as the tunnel to the south side of the embankment. The station site also includes a free-standing tower that houses an elevator to transport passengers between the station grounds and the platforms located on the top of the embankment. Wikipedia adds this information to the mix: Because of the construction of an embankment at nearby Bainbridge Street, the Pennsylvania Railroad was forced to build a new station at West High Street in 1900. After 15 years, the Pennsylvania replaced the station. The post card was mailed on March 29, 1915. This makes me wonder if this isn't a picture of the first station that was built at Elizabethtown. So, it is either a historic picture of a station that is no more, or it is a historic first picture of the new station.
I have no information from the back of the post card about either the publisher or the printer. But, here is a scan of the back just in case someone is interested.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021


Continuing on the theme of the last two blogs, I am posting another post card given to me by my friend. This one is a picture of a hotel in Emonton, Alberta, Canada. The hotel was built by a railway company, so I have it filed in my collection under the category of "Special Cards". It is one of 507 cards that match that description. Here is the history of the hotel as found on this website: The Macdonald Hotel, built in the derivative Canadian Chateau style of the grand railway hotels, is one of Edmonton's foremost symbolic and visual landmarks. Fronting on 100 Street and MacDougall Hill adjacent to Frank Oliver Memorial Park in Edmonton's downtown core, it's strategically situated, L-shaped form and seven-storey Indiana limestone facades present a dignified and solid presence overlooking Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River valley. Heritage Value Completed in 1915 and named after Sir John A. MacDonald, the "Mac", as it has become affectionately known, is significant for its strong association with Edmontonians' social, cultural and political history as exemplified by the intense civic rancor when it closed its doors in 1983 and the protracted negotiations that led to its careful restoration and extraordinarily well received public reopening celebration in May of 1991. The centrepiece for royal visits, graduations, family birthdays, and a wide range of other occasions, the "Mac" continues to be a major contributor to Edmonton's collective memory. The Macdonald Hotel is architecturally significant as an expression of the Chateau style preferred by Canadian transcontinental railways for their hotels, a style derived from French Renaissance-era chateaux. Characterized by high-pitched dormered roofs and inspired by French architectural elements, the Macdonald Hotel was designed for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway by architects Ross and MacFarlane, who also designed the Fort Garry Hotel and the Chateau Laurier. Built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and later owned by both the Canadian National Railway (CNR) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the MacDonald Hotel symbolizes Edmonton's participation in the great transcontinental railway initiatives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Macdonald Hotel's substantial visual landmark status can be attributed to its distinctive architecture and prominent location overlooking the North Saskatchewan River escarpment. Source: City of Edmonton (Bylaw: 7700) Character-Defining Elements The Canadian Chateaux style is expressed in character-defining elements such as: - the form, massing and scale of the L-shaped building; - the recessed diagonal entranceway and perpendicular wings and turret; - the steeply sloped dormered roofs including roof features such as high chimneys, projecting towers, turret roof and finials; - the five arches of the entrance portico with order expression of four pillars and two pilasters including stone detailing such as gargoyles and provincial crests of the four western provinces; - the major defining elements on all facades such as pilasters, balustrades, balconettes, overhangs, brackets, cornices, arches and keystones and other stone detailing; - mouldings and decorative elements on all facades including hood mouldings, dentils, and panels; - all blind arcades, windows and door openings, arched windows, leaded glass transoms, windowsills and transoms; - all architectural metals such as copper roofing, cornices, bracketing and decorative eavestrough. The cultural landscape and landmark character-defining elements of the Macdonald Hotel include: - the Frank Oliver Memorial Park between the Macdonald Hotel and Jasper Avenue; - the relationship of the building to MacDougall Hill, Jasper Avenue and 100th Street; - the open space adjacent to the rear facades of the building overlooking the North Saskatchewan River valley; - the views of the North Saskatchewan River valley from the hotel and adjacent grounds; the open space and gardens at the east side of the building.
The post card was publlished by Valentine & Sons. It is one of 27 cards in my collection by "Valentine". 18 are by Valentine Souvenir, 6 are from Valentine & Sons, and three other are from other partnerships. The title on the front of the post card suggests that it was published before the Hotel Macdonald was officially named as such. But, for sure it is from after 1915.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Trains and Drug Stores

Like last week’s blog post, I am honouring the family history of a friend of mine. He gave me this post card about which I am blogging today, the post card from last week’s blog, and a few more post cards yet to come. This post card shows a locomotive at the station in Ponoka, Alberta. The picture was taken around 1910, but the post card was mailed on June 4, 1912.
This first article tells us about the railroad history in Ponoka. It is from the Ponoka News. The second article speaks directly to the style of the train station itself. Both are very interesting. One of Ponoka's first buildings, the Canadian Pacific Railway Station was built in 1891 and served our community and districts for 77 years. Siding 14 began in 1890 as a solitary railway depot, which was inhabited by the section crew and a caretaker for the nearby octagonal wooden water tower, which was fed from a small reservoir in the Battle River by a windmill driven pump. As a vital supply point for the huge steam locomotives, these structures would be our modest beginnings, and soon welcomed hundreds of railway workers, settlers, labourers, professionals, and businessmen looking to establish their homes, their farms, and their livelihoods here. Due to the demand on the facility and the event of the steel rails reaching the Ponoka siding from both directions, the community's first official building, the big brown station was built in 1891. The classic 'B' type train depot included a long loading platform and a waiting room, which in the winter was heated by a stove all night long to accommodate incoming railway travellers or locals looking to get warm. A landmark at the end of Chapman Avenue, the water tower also supplied a nearby hydrant to assist our local fire department with the dousing of many fires that occurred in the countless wooden buildings now being built in the community. It became obsolete with the Canadian Pacific Railway's conversion to the powerful diesel locomotive in the 1950s, then was dismantled and rebuilt as a granary on a farm north of town, and still stands to this day. The men working on the tracks with wagon teams and heavy equipment in those days had no easy life, facing backbreaking tasks, long hours, sickness (influenza and other maladies), unpredictable conditions, and low wages of just $1.50 per day. Those with teams were paid $2.50 a day and board, while teamsters received $25.00 a month and board in the village. Most camped beside the river as they moved along with the crew, while some stayed in the station with the agent and family, and only a few could afford the $4.00 a week room and board in Ponoka. Early historians claim that during the construction of the railway, a massive stock pile of wooden ties near Morningside stretching half a mile were piled over 50 feet high, with some remnants still remaining to this very day. It wasn't long before three daily trains were arriving in the Ponoka station, quickly setting the daily rhythm of this now bustling town (1904), with a steady influx of freight, mail, and passengers, who may either make this community their new home or move on down the line. While Dick Slater and his dray were delivering supplies throughout the community, freight and grain cars would rest on the siding while they were loaded from elevator row or with livestock from the stock yard. Mail was sorted on board the train, so service was prompt, and passengers could now reach Lacombe in comfort in just 20 minutes. That busy train station was the 'heart of Ponoka' for many decades, the centre of heavy traffic and supplies, a friendly place to pop in and purchase a ticket, and on many occasions the spot where hundreds gathered to greet the arrival of their hockey team, a celebrity, or family and special friends. Rail passenger and local freight traffic would steadily decline as highways improved and car and truck ownership grew. The historical train station was demolished in 1968 to make way for a new Shopping Centre development, while the speedy Calgary/Edmonton day liner service was discontinued several years later. The main C.P.R. line is now very busy day and night with long freight trains hauling every type of cargo, but the fond memories will always remain of those shrill whistles blowing both day and night or of the long plumes of smoke that billowed from those big black steam engines as they lumbered into and through town 24-7 with their precious cargo, always followed very closely by that now long extinct old caboose. Wood Combination Station and Freight House (1891) The Calgary & Edmonton Railway was constructed from Calgary to Red Deer in the fall of 1890 and continued on to Edmonton the following spring. Stations were primarily boxcars until, in 1891, the railway built a cookie-cutter combination station and freight house approximately every twenty miles along the route. Each was constructed in about three weeks. They started out virtually identical but over the next several years, modifications were made to each station to make them more functional according to the needs of the community and station master resulting in some distinction but the primary characteristics remained. Besides Red Deer, this design was built south at Innisfail, Olds, Carstairs and Airdrie. North of Red Deer, they were built at Lacombe, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin, Leduc and Strathcona. By 1914, the stations at Red Deer, Lacombe, Wetaskiwin and Strathcona were replaced by larger stations and the original stations were relocated and converted to freight sheds that were in use until the 1950s. The stations at Ponoka, Innisfail and Olds remained as the principal station also until the 1950s. The Innisfail and Olds stations were replaced by unimaginative and utilitarian cinder block buildings. South of Calgary, similar stations were built at High River, Claresholm, Okotoks, Nanton, and De Winton. The Calgary & Edmonton Railway (owned partially by railway builders McKenzie and Mann as well as James Ross, a contractor with the CPR) leased the line to the CPR until the CPR purchased it outright.
The back of the post card tells us that the Campbell Drug Company of Ponoka was the seller of the card. Check out this website for more history: The first telephone pole to be installed in Ponoka along the Bell Telephone Company Calgary to Edmonton phone-line was set up across the street from the present Royal Hotel in 1903. A hot item of interest in the Sept. 9, 1906 edition of the Ponoka Herald would report that Bell and the local town council were now involved in a ‘heated scrap’, as the telephone company had gone to work erecting poles on almost every street and back alley of the new town without getting permission from the city fathers. Thankfully this little spat was settled quite amicably and the first telephone office was opened that same year at the back of Dr. Campbell’s Drug Store in the Baadsgaard Building along Chipman Avenue. Sidney Bird pharmacist and property owner in Ponoka, first opened a drug store in Ponoka in 1910, and then took over the Campbell Drug Store in 1916.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

106 Year Old Post Card from the City in Which I Live.

This post card was given to me just this past week by a friend who respects history and its preservation. This post card was sent from one of his ancestoral relatives to another relative back in 1915. I want to respect that history and so I am entering it into my blog this week. There are several more to follow.
This post card shows a Canadian Pacific train crossing the newly constructed High Level Bridge in Edmonton, the capital city of the province of Alberta in Canada. The post card was sent on June 4, 1915, almost two years to the day since the bridge saw its first passenger train. Below is the story of the High Level Bridge. The High Level Bridge was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It purchased an already existing railroad (the Calgary and Edmonton Railroad) which had begun the surveying for the bridge. The Calgary and Edmonton Railroad wanted to build a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River to join the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton together. Then the CPR negotiated rights of way, design and content of the bridge - among many other things. Finally, construction of the bridge began on August 14, 1910. There are 62 land piers and four river piers holding up the bridge. Construction of the piers was completed in 1911. The addition of the steel girders began on the south side of the river and slowly - and safely - the crew made its way to the north side, and in early 1913 the bridge made it to the side of the river where the Legislative Building is The bridge was to carry a train in the middle of the top of the bridge and street car lines on the outside of the top of the bridge. The bottom deck was built to carry automobiles The bridge is 755 meters long or 2,478 feet and 13 meters wide or 43 feet. It originally carried street cars, steam engines and cars. It rises 64 meters or 210 feet above the North Saskatchewan River. On June 2, 1913 the first CPR passenger train steamed into Edmonton over the newly completed structure. The first streetcar crossed the bridge on August 11, 1913. By that time, the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton became one city: Edmonton. Today, I drive a street car over the tracks that the train in this post card is traveling. It is part of my volunteer duties as a member of the Edmonton Radial Railway Society.
This is the back of the post card. There is a nice, chatty, newsy letter. It was sent from Ponoka, Alberta, but there is no sign of a stamp having been used. The left side of the post card tells us that the post card was published by Frasch Fotos of Edmonton. My searches on the internet do confirm that such a business did exist and there are other post cards to prove it. However, there is nothing about the history of the company, that I could find.