Thursday, 10 January 2019

Throwback Thursday - Gateway to the North

FP7A 1517 sits along the south side of the main ONR shops at North Bay, Ontario on August 29, 1990.  Behind that unit is rebuilt FP7Am 1985 and its semi-permanently coupled 3-car TEE train passenger consist.
By Peter Mumby.

Christmastime is always enjoyable, but I must admit to feeling relieved when it is all finally put away for another year.  Then it is back to normal for another ten or eleven months until the onslaught of holiday tunes and Hallmark Christmas movies starts anew.  As you enjoyed some of these Hallmark productions, you probably didn't realize that several of them ("Christmas in Angel Falls," for example) were filmed in North Bay, Ontario.  Throw around a bunch of fake snow, hang out a lot of American flags, and North Bay in August can masquerade as a generic New England town or small Midwestern municipality in early December.

Tourism and TV/film production aside, North Bay has been billing itself as Ontario's "Gateway to the North" for over a century.  When I think of North Bay, the major draw is the head office and the main shops of the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR).  Originally constructed as the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway (T&NO), the ONR has its southern terminus in the Gateway City where it makes an end-to-end connection with the CN Newmarket Subdivision.  CN forwards most freight from here to Toronto.  Northbound, the ONR runs to its principal yard at Englehart and onwards to Cochrane Junction.  At this point one line runs west to Hearst, while the other continues north to Arctic tidewater at Moosonee on James Bay.

General Motors Diesel constructed 22 model FP7A locomotives over the 1951-1953 time frame, with the 1517 graduating with the class of '53.  These were used as dual service locomotives and could be seen all over the system.  FP7Am 1985 and sister units were  rebuilt with a head end generator to replace the original TEE train power cars used on the Northlander passenger trains.  Several years ago the Northlander was cancelled, so currently the only ONR passenger services, the Moosonee mixed trains and the Polar Bear Express, operate north out Cochrane.

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