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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Queen's Park's plan to sell Ontario Northland railway violates the province's own environmental laws, Teamsters charge

A creative, and potentially successful, way of stopping the sale of the ONR.
Queen's Park's plan to sell Ontario Northland railway violates the province's own environmental laws, Teamsters charge

Video: We are Ontario Northland

I've spoken a lot about the Ontario Northland sale recently, but I haven't spent much time explaining what the ONR actually is.  This video was released months ago, but it does a very good job explaining what the ONR is and why it is important.

Ontario Northland - We are... from Ontario Northland on Vimeo.

Missiles may be placed at residential flats

I don't usually follow the Olympics, but this time it might be worth it just to see how much security they can dream up!
BBC News - Missiles may be placed at residential flats

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Updates on the ONTC Fight

I have just returned from a trip on Ontario Northland's Northlander from Toronto to Cochrane and back. The people I met and the stories I heard have touched me.  Cochrane is a true railway town and the sale of the Ontario Northland Railway will tear the community apart.  I am now in the process of catching up on the latest news relating to the sale while also wading through all the notes and photos I took during my trip.  The trip is to become the basis for my fourth book, Call of the Northland, which will be released next year.

After the NDP dropped the ONTC from its list of demands Monday, the budget passed on Tuesday as the Conservatives voted against it and the NDP abstained, meaning it was a fully Liberal vote.  The NDP felt that they could not justify an election based on an issue only affecting one region in Ontario. 

I beg to differ.  While the bulk of the ONTC's work is in northeastern Ontario, the Northlander and the companion bus service go as far south as Toronto.  Dalton McGuinty has not visited the north to explain his reasoning for selling off the ONTC, nor has met with northern leaders, several contingents of which have visited Queen's Park to make their case.  These groups have protested and managed to meet with the minister of Northern Development, Rick Bartolucci, who has told them that there is no possible compromise and the sale will go ahead, regardless of the objections from the north.

There is a clear regional division in Ontario right now, between those in the northeast who will lose vital transportation links and infrastructure, not to mention jobs, and those in the south who haven't even heard about Ontario Northland, let alone the sale of it.

In the next few days, I hope to post some photographs from my trip to show you some of the places I am talking about. 

I urge anyone reading this to read up on the sale and do what you can to halt the sale - it's not too late!  Visit for more information.  (Post content researched through the Timmins Daily Press, the North Bay Nugget and the Cochrane Times-Post.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NDP gives in on ONTC issue

Despite the optimism in the article, I expect that this is the end of the ONR.  I am disappointed that the NDP wasn't able to sway the Liberals, but I understand that another election would likely have meant little change to the positions anyway.
NDP gives in on ONTC issue - The North Bay Nugget

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tories mull privatizing VIA Rail routes

Very early and too soon to say if it will actually happen, but VIA is considered a good target for sale every few years.
Tories mull privatizing VIA Rail routes - The Globe and Mail

Railway roundhouses foundations unearthed in York

Railway archaeology in a railway city.
BBC News - Railway roundhouses foundations unearthed in York

Lens Diffraction Explained

Years ago, I read a little about lens diffraction in a railway photography book, but I didn't really why it happened.  Fstoppers has just released an excellent video explaining exactly what diffraction is and how to avoid it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Toronto's Railway History is at Risk!

Yesterday, the Toronto Railway Historical Association announced that their plans to build the Toronto Railway Museum in the John Street Roundhouse machine shop had been blocked by Toronto Hydro.  Yesterday, the TRHA hosted the media as the campaign to save the railway museum was launched. 

I have volunteered with the TRHA since January 2010, often as a photographer, and I have learned much about Toronto's rich railway history.  There are very few places in the world lucky enough to have railway artefacts, such as the John Street Roundhouse, so close to the downtown.  This is an incredible opportunity to honour Toronto's debt to railways.

Both the Toronto Star (article and photos) and the Globe and Mail (article and photos) have covered this story.  Toronto's railway history is finally starting to be recognised, don't let Toronto Hydro ruin it!

ONTC fate sealed: Bartolucci

It would seem that the Ontario Government is not interested in opinions from the north.  There is a good chance this will all be resolved this week when the budget vote is set to take place.
ONTC fate sealed: Bartolucci - Timmins Daily Press

Toronto Catholic students to sing O Canada without music

I'm not sure what "authentic patriotism" is, but forcing children to sing does not sound to me like part of it.
Toronto Catholic students to sing O Canada without music -

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Charter!

Today, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is exactly 30 years old. In a ceremony on Parliament Hill, Queen Elizabeth II and Pierre Trudeau signed the document in 1982. It is by no means a perfect document, union rights have never been entrenched (excluded from the freedom of association) and there are no rights to shelter or food, but it is an important document for helping people in Canada. That said, it is important to note that increasingly the Charter is being ignored - notably during the G20 Summit in Toronto, when the legal rights upon arrest were sidestepped. Stephen Harper is doing his best to ignore the anniversary, saying that the document is divisive.

It is a special day to remember what has been accomplished and also to continue working towards a better and fairer Canada for the future.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Northern and Southern Passenger Trains

Apart from VIA Rail and GO Transit, Toronto is still served by two other passenger railways. Seven days a week, Amtrak's Maple Leaf operates between Toronto and New York City, offering a comfortable alternative to driving or flying. Six days a week, Ontario Northland's Northlander operates between Toronto and Cochrane, but not for much longer. As reported in previous posts, this vital link with northern Ontario is slated to be axed by the provincial government. With a very promising weather forecast for Friday, I travelled to Toronto to see both of these trains.

First up, the Northlander was running early (it often does as the schedule is very padded). After passengers have detrained, the consist travels to the VIA Maintenance Centre at Mimico to be wyed in preparation for the next day's trip north. I chose Bathurst Street as my vantage point. As the train approached, the sound of the ageing locomotive (EMD GP38-2 #1809) echoed in the concrete canyon. For the past week, the train has carried an "Ontario Northland not for sale" banner on the front. It is clear that the north wants to keep this train.

I crossed to the other side of the road to prepare for the Maple Leaf. It was running about 10 minutes early and I was able to catch it just as the sun dipped beneath the skyline.

With both trains photographed, I headed home. Toronto was busy as there was a baseball game and a small cannabis demonstration - the joys of life in the city!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

ONR passenger service has 6 months

After weeks of speculation, it looks like the Northlander has about 6 months left.
ONR passenger service has 6 months - The North Bay Nugget

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My New Book is Available Now!

After months of photography, editing and proofing, my latest book, Rails of the GTA Volume 2, is finally available! This volume offers new and exciting images from the GTA's railways. To preview or purchase the book, please visit the site:

British transit enthusiast aims at a speed record for visiting subway stations

The TTC Day Pass is an excellent, and cheap, way to visit Toronto.  This takes it to new extremes.
British transit enthusiast aims at a speed record for visiting subway stations -

Simpsons creator reveals the real Springfield

A bit of a shame really, I always liked not knowing.  I had always guessed east coast, not west anyway!
Simpsons creator reveals the real Springfield |

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Olympics 2012 security: welcome to lockdown London

This is a very interesting and disturbing portrait of what security for the Olympics is likely to look like.  My question: how much will be left afterwards?
Olympics 2012 security: welcome to lockdown London | The Guardian

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Feminists hail explosion in new grassroots groups

I call myself a feminist, I believe in removing the gender gap and then maintaining gender equality once it has been achieved.  I am heartened to see I am not alone in seeing the need for a resurgence of the feminist movement.
Feminists hail explosion in new grassroots groups | The Guardian

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Ban on Gideon Bible handout at public schools sparks torrent of hate mail

I support the ban.  The public school system is to be secular.  However, I do advocate teaching of the Bible in a non-denominational way in schools because so much of literature, art and the humanities refers to it.  For example, Shakespeare is far richer with an understanding of biblical references.  How can you fully appreciate Renaissance art without understanding the characters being portrayed.  Canada is a somewhat secular place, but it's clear that some people do not believe that a public school should be secular.
Ban on Gideon Bible handout at public schools sparks torrent of hate mail -

Ottawa cuts CAP public web access funding

The problem with "challenging fiscal times" is that the least fortunate always seem to fall through the cracks.  That is where responsible government steps in to help them - or in this case take away their internet access.
Ottawa cuts CAP public web access funding - CBC News

Friday, April 06, 2012

Campaign: Ontario Northland is NOT for Sale

The campaign against the impending sale of Ontario Northland has put their website online.  The north is a key part of Ontario and it cannot be ignored. 
Ontario Northland is NOT for Sale -- ONTC Union

Thursday, April 05, 2012

CBC to cut jobs, programs over next 3 years

Once more, government tries to kill the national broadcaster.  Canada has no British-style tv license, meaning that the CBC is always in need of funding.  Among the highlights of the cuts are over 600 job losses, a concentration of production in Toronto (risking regional diversity) and the move to include commercials on CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique.  This will hurt Canadian content and Canada's voice to the world.  Radio Canada International (bet you've never heard of it) will also be further cut.  Stephen Harper hates the CBC, this will once more cause major damage to the broadcaster.
CBC to cut jobs, programs over next 3 years - CBC News

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New York Times changes online content availability

Last year, the New York Times moved to a subscription-based online version to help preserve revenue in the online news world. The system allowed someone to read 20 articles per month for free (with a subscription allowing unlimited access). Starting this month, the number of free articles is being halved to only 10 per month. I can understand why they need to protect revenue and continue to provide excellent journalism, but I really did prefer the 20 limit!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

1960′s Celebrity Photos Found in a Closet

I love these surprise photo discoveries.  There are some really fun portraits here.
1960′s Celebrity Photos Found in a Closet | Fstoppers