Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On the line . . .

Most of Canada's land mass and population is situated north of the 49th parallel of latitude.   With the exception of some of southern Ontario and the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, most Canadians live on the northern side of that line and identify strongly with it as the boundary that separates Canada from the USA.

The Town of Ladysmith, BC straddles the 49th.  I'm not exactly sure where the line goes through town but a commemorative cairn located in front of the post office on 1st Avenue and Gatacre St mentions it.

To celebrate this geographic fact, the local high school varsity teams are called the "49er's" and the locally owned grocery store is called the 49th Parallel Grocery.

People sit on the steps of the Ladysmith Post Office to await the annual
Ladysmith Days parade.  The cairn commemorates the founding of the town.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The tail end and the tale ends . . . but not the trail

In the early part of the last century, Vancouver Island had several competing railroads.  Most of them ran from Victoria to Sidney however, two also ran tracks up Island.  Of those, only the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Rwy still exists.   It runs from Wharf Street in Victoria to Courtenay although it is only running sporadically now, having suspended passenger service since early 2011 due to track safety concerns. 

At first it may seem incongruous to find a CN caboose permanently
housed along the former CP Rail E&N Rwy station however,
CN Rail has an important place in the rail history of the Cowichan Valley.

It's main rival for passenger service and freight on the Island was the Canadian Northern (later renamed Canadian National or CN).  It's line ran through Victoria's "Western Communities" to Sooke and then to Duncan with a termination at Lake Cowichan.  Originally surveyed to extend to Port Alberni, it was never built beyond the Cowichan Valley.  Apart from it's rail bed being turned into the Trans-Canada Trail, the only visible reminder of the former CN Rail line on Vancouver Island is a retired CN caboose resting along the E&N behind the Duncan CP Rail Stations (Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives).

The Kinsol Trestle, rebuilt as part of the Trans-Canada Trail,
was built for the Canadian Northern Railway in 1920