Nov 30, 2012

Medicine Hat Rail Yard & Roundhouse

Like so many other prairie communities across North America, the railway was a lifeline that spurred immediate growth and development.  As I explained with my CPR Bridge photo set, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in Medicine Hat in 1883 and made the settlement a divisional point on their mainline.  

It's not immediately clear from the information I've uncovered when the CPR roundhouse was built or if there was additional construction or demolition as the rail yard grew.  I have found a lot of archival images of the yard, but the dates are skewed and it's not entirely clear what state the roundhouse is in in all of them.  What is certain is that the roundhouse was demolished decades ago, and the city has since commercially developed the land where it used to be.

Medicine Hat Rail Yard ca. 1960s

What makes the rail yard such a fascinating location is that it's been central to so many other buildings and early industries in Medicine Hat.  From the train station, to hotels like the Cecil and Corona, to industries like the Five Roses Flour Mill and others further into the clay district, the railway was a link to them all.  Today there are still clues to a lot of faded histories along the tracks.  There are a number of fading painted signs, rough looking warehouses, and locations that simply raise more questions.  It's easy to see the difference 100 years makes though.

If anyone has more information about the roundhouse in Medicine Hat or knows another resource for looking it up, please get in touch.  

Early Medicine Hat postcard showing the rail yard ca. 1911-1913

CPR Roundhouse ca. 1910 with the train station on the far left.

View today without the roundhouse.

CPR Roundhouse ca. 1955

Rail yard ca. 1968

Canadian Pacific train in the yard ca. 1928

View of rail yard with Five Roses Mill and Elm Street School ca. 1910-1920s
View today.  Take note of how the city has grown onto the hill.

Aerial view of train yard ca. 1968

Overpass ca. 1962

View of the rail yard with the Corona in the background.

Nov 29, 2012

Writing for the University Newspaper

One of the more productive past times I took up in film school was writing for the University of Regina's campus newspaper, the Carillon.  I had casually written a few film related articles for the paper in my first few years of uni, but it was in the winter semester of 2005 that things really got interesting.

My friend Kelly was the Editor-in-Chief of the Carillon that year and while hanging out one night I proposed an idea I had for a column I was interested in writing.  I really had no expectations, just a willingness to try something new, and she seemed keen to give me a shot.  The basic premise I had was rooted in childhood nostalgia, film school experiences, and highlighting the classic flicks that I thought should be required viewing. It was essentially a film student's guide for getting lost in the video store.

I titled the column, Spliced, which if you weren't aware is the editing term referring to the joining of two pieces of a filmstrip.  I thought it sounded cool and also related to people missing certain films, cutting them out, etc. It was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun writing about everything from mockumentaries (like This is Spinal Tap), to a rundown of the Muppet movies, to my favorite films about the movie business (like Sunset Boulevard).  Some of it was a bit indulgent I suppose, but the idea was always to share my appreciation for flicks that I felt didn't get mentioned as much as they should.

I only ever wrote on a consistent basis for the Carillon that one semester, but the few remaining articles I ever wrote for the paper still ended up under the Spliced banner.  It was cool to do something like that for a brief period of time, especially because stuff like this foreshadowed what eventually came from this site when I started it in 2007.  Keep an eye out for some of my favorite articles from Spliced in the coming weeks.          

Nov 28, 2012

Canadian Pacific Railway Bridge

The railway arrived in Medicine Hat on May 31, 1883.  The area was still part of the Northwest Territories and was incredibly remote, but there was a national mandate for a railway to be constructed to unite the growing country.  

The Canadian Pacific Railway determined that this portion of the river valley (due in part to the small tent town already there) was an ideal place for the mainline to cross the South Saskatchewan River.  A bridge was constructed and due to an abundant source of water and coal, the CPR developed Medicine Hat as a divisional point and built shops, freight yards, and a roundhouse.

The original CPR bridge was single track truss bridge, but it was later rebuilt and twinned in the early 1900s.  If you look at the supports for the bridge, you can still see portions of the original stone pylons that were incorporated into the more substantial bases.   

Even though the significance of the railway has obviously evolved over the last century, the Canadian Pacific Railway has remained a vital part of the community.  The CPR bridge is still heavily trafficked, and whether crossing the Maple Avenue or Finlay Bridges, it's not uncommon to catch a glimpse of a train on the move.  I caught the tail end of one while shooting this.   

CPR Bridge ca. 1940

CPR Bridge ca. 1890s

CPR Bridge train wreck in Medicine Hat ca. 1899 

CPR Bridge ca. 1886