Friday, January 27, 2017

The Intricate Tiny World...on my Dresser

My dear husband Bruce was born into a railroading family. In fact both sides, paternal and maternal, had ties to Canadian National Railway.

His mother's Italian immigrant father laid track and raised twelve children on a section man's pay. On the other side his paternal grandfather (also an immigrant, and one of twelve children from the UK) was a car painter and had the honour of painting the fine gold leaf filigree art work on 1939 Royal train cars for King George Vth and Queen Elizabeth (we knew her as the Queen Mum).   Bruce's Dad ran steam engines for his career and Bruce's mom's brothers were locomotive engineers and track supervisors.

So it came as no surprise that Bruce took up a railway career (after a short trial period in a Sudbury nickel mine underground).  He worked in Ontario, Jasper Alberta, northern BC, the Okanagan Valley, Vancouver, and at Victoria on Vancouver Island.  Bruce ran freight trains, passenger trains for VIA Rail and a private tourist train.

First paying trip at age 18

Bruce in Jasper 1966

Bruce running the VIA Rail passenger train Christmas 1984
Engineer Bruce on the Okanagan Valley Wine Train 1999
He retired in 2000. So I have asked him if he misses running a train ?    He relied "not the early calls or the long, long hours... or the cold weather, rock slides or avalanches. But the rest of it, yes....."

He has written many of his railway stories and has even been published. I believe there are more stories in him still but these he may have to change the names to protect the guilty!

Has he satisfied his need to "get it all out there" ?   Nope... not even close.

Bruce was long ago bitten by the model railroad bug.  He enjoys creating miniature worlds in HO scale, or 1/87.    I found these pictures he had taken in a recent camera download and was amazed at the perfection of these tiny models. These were all sitting on top of his dresser on a handwoven runner.

Yup, even a tiny outhouse!

This model of a snow shed was created by a friend of Bruce's and you can see how intricate it is and the amazing amount of detail.  Look at the crib work of 'old railway ties'. 

The picture below is Bruce and my son on a road trip Christmas week 1984. They rode together in the engine's cab for a good portion of the trip while my daughter and I sat in the First Class dining car having breakfast.


Roll the clock ahead more than a few years and now my son's son has discovered Thomas the Tank and all things rail.  He regularly builds railway tracks that run all through the house.

The only thing that rivals the imagination of a grown man, is that of a little boy.  Our grandson Ethan is train crazy and here's Grandad helping get a train up the hill.... where they had a head on collision.... 

....and resulting disaster at the bottom of the hill! 

and so it continues..... Bruce plans to build a model layout in a portion of the garage and no doubt Ethan and other 'boys' will be over to help build a railway dynasty.


Anonymous said...

Those models are amazing! While I'm not into trains, I would have loved making such things with a grandparent as a kid.

Bruce said...

Thanks for putting this story together, Susan. I love the way we share and support each other's activities. Life is good with you. Hub.

Loom With A View said...

Oh my, this proves we all have links to the railroad if you go back a few generations! My father's recently deceased cousin, her identical twin sister, and 3 younger sisters, were raised in a series of, well, they called them 'orange crates' (CN had real 'quality' housing for their remote workers back in the 30's) across northern Ontario as her father was a switch man.

Little boys, grandfathers, and trains seem to go together naturally. If you are ever out east, there is a great train museum in St Constant QC. My dad loves it - he and my son would spend hours there.

Susan Harvey said...

The railway was quite an influence for many Canadian families coast to coast! My MIL's parents divided their time between Ontario and Vermont. Bruce's Italian grandfather came to Ontario (the original of Foleyet) and worked on track and such and live in a converted box car all summer long. His wife (of Acadian descent ) would cook for the men. She'd go home to Vermont in the fall, usually expecting a new child.... and so some of the 12 children were born in Auberg Vermont, or Foleyet Ontario. Bruce's mother schooling was done in a school car that traveled from town to town via the rails. They leave the children homework to do until they came back.

Bruce's mother is into her mid 90's now and we have a very special picture of her as a toddler climbing up onto the 'cow-catcher' pilot of an old steam locomotive almost 90 years ago.

Bruce is rather shy on this point, but he also has a lovely railway junction named for him. "CN Harvey" is at Tete Jaune Cache, in the bottom of a valley, near Mt Robson and Mt Terry Fox standing tall near by.

Loom With A View said...

We have a few of those pictures too! And the school car was a familiar sight as well. Hard to go to school when the closest link to the rest of the world is a switching junction!

Linda said...

What a wonderful collection of photos and stories! There are a lot of good stories to tell, between the two of you! We are thankful that you are both so well qualified to put them in writing in a beautiful way. What is it about trains? Our son lived and breathed trains as a little one as well...we'd even catch him 'wooo WOOOOOOing' in his sleep. I have very fond memories of Charlie and Matt stretching out for the pre-bed story and working their way through a ginormous train book. Wherever Matt happened to land in turning the page to the next picture, Charlie would continue on with whatever story he was making up that night....very sweet.
I love that you each honor the other's work.

Susan Harvey said...

I found this link to railway school cars
Small world huh?


Susan Harvey said...

... and this one has links to the 1939 Royal Trains that my husband's grandfather painted all the gold leaf on as lead foreman on the car painting crew...