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Shallow Lake on July 24, 1957

July 24, 2022

Back when I was a wee lad of five years, I had a certain pet peeve when the family travelled anywhere in our 1962 Ford Falcon (which had succeeded the 1956 Ford two-door of King’s Highways & Steam Trains repute, and preceded a 1966 Ford Falcon). And that was this:

Whenever we approached a small Ontario town here or there, Dad would divert us from the pleasant rhythm of two-lane highway driving. ‘I’d better get a picture of the railway station, if it’s still standing.’ So, we’d meander around various streets until we were ‘down by the tracks’. And, sure enough, there’d be a sorry-looking red frame building not long for this world. The Station. Dad would get out of the car with whatever camera was at hand, and dutifully take a picture.

In the backseat, my brother and I would shortly thereafter express our satisfaction that the pilgrimage was over and we could resume our travels.

One day, in the spring of 1965, Dad took this picture of the CNR’s Shallow Lake station, on the Owen Sound Subdivision:

Five years of age at the time, I have no specific recollections of this photo stop. But the general scene typifies my memories of all Ontario branchlines in the 1960s: there were tracks, yes, and a station. Maybe a freight shed, a cattle pen. But no trains. Nothing was happening.

In short, that was my impression of the 1960s Ontario branchline railway scene: everything was there except trains. Not even a diesel, far less the likes of Northern 6167 or 6218.

Dad had known a different time, of course, not even a decade before, when there were trains. Even at a place like Shallow Lake (where he and Mom encountered CNR 4-6-2 number 5578 on passenger train 174 in August 1958, for instance).

John Rehor also knew an earlier time at Shallow Lake, evidenced by his picture of CNR Ten Wheeler 1525 with the first Wiarton mixed train of the day. That view was taken 65 years ago today, on Wednesday, July 24, 1957. It’s on page 107 of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957!

Probably the driving reason behind my creating Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! (a labour that took almost 25 years) is because I’d seen the likes of Shallow Lake with tracks, stations, buildings—but no trains. The only way I could experience those places with trains was by turning back the clock.

Thank you to everyone who has been ordering from our box of 16 copies of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! at the commemorative low price with flat $10.00 shipping. We’re now down to four of those copies remaining. To grab one, click on any of the book links in this post or navigate here:

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

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