This past week, I travelled to Ottawa to give a dinner talk for the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders (OVAR). Until I received the invitation, I'd never really heard of the group. Founded in 1961, OVAR is an Ottawa-based group who meet to share a common interest in all things railway - from 1:1, to 1:87 and beyond. Their membership numbers over 100 and their meeting (despite a winter storm raging outside) was well attended.
My talk, "A Decade of Digital: Ontario Railway Photography, 2006-2016", was an ambitious attempt to show how much has changed in the past decade. As the name hinted, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of my switch to digital photography. To be fair, I had barely started in film photography before I made the switch, but my early days in digital were filled with scepticism as I wondered whether the image quality would be good (it was - even better in fact - but that would be expected when one's budget allowed only for Kodak fun-time film).
Through my talk, my images charted how the rosters of VIA Rail, GO Transit, CN and CP have all changed in the past ten years - in the Toronto Area at least. (While the talk's title was ambitious, my preparation had forced me to cull my initial selection of 150 images into a more focused discussion of around 90 photographs). I also briefly discussed the Toronto Railway Museum, Union Pearson Express and the demise of the Northlander.
I closed the talk by looking at how the railway scene in Whitby has changed over the past decade. Regular readers will have seen many of these changes documented. They will also have noted that there have been fewer Whitby images of late as various vantage points have become inaccessible or changed beyond recognition.
The talk is the culmination of OVAR's monthly meeting, which includes a meal, plenty of time to socialize and a themed display of various members' ongoing model railroading projects. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and met a variety of interesting people, all with their own unique interest in railways. Railway enthusiasm encourages specialization, but this can cause tunnel-vision (pun intended). One of the strengths of a group such as OVAR is the pooling of interests and talent, which I believe has helped them to continue for over five decades.
Thank you to everyone at OVAR for such a warm welcome and for taking an interest in my photography - I had a great time!