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Harriston Junction on July 23, 1957

July 23, 2022

Sixty five years ago today—on Tuesday, July 23, 1957—Don Wood captured this view of Canadian Pacific Ten Wheeler 1004 on the Teeswater Subdivision, crossing the Canadian National’s Owen Sound Subdivision. In the background, CNR Pacific 5563 has paused at the distant signal, just beyond the junction switch between the Owen Sound and Southampton Subdivisions (with this southbound ballast extra on the latter).

From the perspective of the year 2022, or even the early 1980s when I first saw this picture, it would appear that all is right with the steam railway world in Ontario on July 23, 1957.

Indeed, though, the action portrayed is about to end. The CPR Teeswater scheduled mixed train headed by engine 1004 has ten days to live. Locomotive 5563, surplus at the London roundhouse, has recently been pressed into extra freight service at Palmerston. She’ll pick up scraps of work before bowing out on a snowplow extra next February 10.

Shortly after I first saw this picture (published in the August 1958 issue of Trains Magazine, which my father had purchased back then), I was working “line feed” at the Molson’s plant in my hometown of Barrie, Ontario. This was my summer employment in 1982. It was a monotonous, repetitive job. But that, along with the earplugs I wore in the deafening noise of the plant, allowed my imagination to wander. I dwelt often on the Don Wood photo above. As the 25th anniversary of the image’s exposure approached, I planned to visit the location and stand where our photographers did.

Among my fellow university-aged workmates at the plant, my interest in branchline steam operations of a generation previous would only have been met by blank stares if I’d broached the subject in the lunchroom (the closest I had to a kindred spirit was another fellow who’d briefly worked for the CPR extra gang at Bolton the previous summer, and was there when the railway filmed a TV commercial with dead 4-4-0 number 136).

Anyhow, in my delirious obsession with today’s photograph, I imagined walking up to anyone else in the plant—say my fellow labourer on line feed—and yelling to him, “Have you ever been to HARRISTON?” Anticipating a possible ‘YES. ONCE OR TWICE’, I then imagined my follow-up question, delivered with a condescending smirk: “Yes? But have you ever been there at 12:02 P.M. EASTERN STANDARD TIME ON TUESDAY, JULY 23, 1957?”

Of course he wouldn’t even have been BORN yet, let alone know what the hell I was talking about.

But we do, in this little community. We know what this is all about. Thanks to Wood and Rehor, we’ve been there at that exact time and date in the pages of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957!

Thank you to all who snatched a copy of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! since yesterday! We’ve now down to eight remaining (from 16 originally) at the special price with flat $10.00 shipping here:

As usual, if you have any questions, kindly send me an email.

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