Sunday, June 7, 2009

Margin Notes: Detours, P3's, Pile Drivers

A detouring Montreal to Calgary Canadian Pacific train passed underneath the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario on 7 June 2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Because of two derailments, one on the Toronto-Montreal mainline at Oshawa, Ontario on Friday and one on the Ottawa-North Bay mainline at Hodgson, Ontario on Wednesday, the Canadian Pacific has been detouring its priority traffic on the Canadian National between Toronto and Brockville, Ontario this weekend. This means that Canadian Pacific freight trains have been passing through the Union Station Rail Corridor in Toronto for the first time since I moved here. After missing two detours on Saturday, I finally caught what apparently was the next-to-last westbound detour today at Bathurst Street, led by a locomotive in the "Olympic" scheme. The sight will probably not be seen again unless there's another derailment.

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The Canadian Pacific was at the center of what stuck me as the quote of the week from host Kathleen Petty on CBC Radio One's The House yesterday. In a discussion about the possible sale of crown corporations, the Canadian Pacific came up, and Petty responded to the dialog by saying, "That sounds like a P3!" [That's a Public-Private Partnership, for those not up on the latest terminology.] I had never thought of transcontinental railroads as a P3 before, and considering the mess that many of the transcontinental railroads in the United States created from their land grant "P3's" in the gilded age, it certainly doesn't make me feel any better about contemporary P3's.

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Railroads continue to annoy residents of The Junction neighborhood of Toronto as a result of the current project to create a grade separation between the GO Transit Georgetown Line and the Canadian Pacific North Toronto Subdivision to enable expanded GO service on the Georgetown Line. The pile driving on the project is so loud that I can often hear it more than 2.5 kilometers away, and a friend has reported being able to hear it 3 kilometers to the north. I find it very hard to believe that the noise cannot be better mitigated than that.

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The Swansea Historical Society annual walk, "Along the Boardwalk of Humber Bay," stopped on the 1994 Humber Bay Arch Bridge in Toronto, Ontario on 6 June 2009

I don't think the project can be heard on the other side of the Gardiner Expressway, but that was the location of this year's Swansea Historical Society walk. I had no idea how much I didn't know about the shores of Lake Ontario between the Argonaut Rowing Club and the Humber River--from the fact that the Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football League team started as an adjunct to the rowing club to the presence of the Lion Memorial to the Queen Elizabeth Way near the Humber River. More coverage of the walk will be forthcoming in a future entry.

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After all the time I spent earlier this year in California where Spanish speakers represent a significant portion of the population, imagine my surprise this past week when a bank teller at my local branch here in Toronto started speaking to a customer in Spanish. Being used to overhearing--and mostly understanding--such conversations in California, it took me a couple seconds to realize that I was in my own neighborhood in Toronto. There's no denying that Toronto is a thoroughly multi-cultural community.

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