Friday 12 April 2024

See Jane Walk! May 3 to 5

A pedestrian panoply in the pantheon of pastoral perusal of Kingston's history awaits, much of it along the Inner Harbour and waterfront. The full schedule is here.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Tramps, Hoboes & Bums...

 ...was a nickname for the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway. To Hell & Back was another! Locally we have the Kick & Push moniker for the Kingston & Pembroke Railway. But those three names in this post title were also applied to a class of men who found it more profitable to beg than to work, throughout the early 20th-Century. 

For various reasons, be they employment, economic, criminal, desperation or just of options, these men 'rode the rods' or 'rode the bumpers'. Steel truss rods were used to stiffen the underframe of freight cars, to enable them to carry heavier loads and keep them cambered upwards. They also provided a horizontal space below a freight car that could be temporarily inhabited.

The recent death of well-known Youtube Hobo Shoestring got me thinking about whether hoboes were ever an issue in Kingston. Yes, they were! And not just during the Great Depression.  (I've already modelled homeless settlements in my modelled era circa 1970.)


In 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, a Whig reporter was sent to various locations to talk with the hoboes and those they attempted to beg money from. He found a man on Arch Street selling bars of soap to buy tobacco. A man on Collingwood Street said he had eaten no food in three days. 

The reporter next went to the CN Outer Station 'Jungle' (the vernacular name for a temporary hobo settlement, often where rides on trains were caught). He found five men waiting for a freight, gathered around one of several campfires burning in the Jungle, though the one that was passing was too fast to jump aboard. The men said they got food from the House of Providence, and provided guidance on how to beg effectively:

  • take off your socks, beg for socks. The proponent received seven pair and $1.
  • have long hair, beg for money for a haircut. This man made $2.25.
  • play up a broken shoulder from falling off a train.
  • claim to be a church person, show your Bible. This man made 25 cents.
  • ask, "Can you spare a nickel for a cup of coffee?", "Can you spare a few cents? I'm starved" or, "Can you spare a few cents toward a bed for the night?
The reporter found Kingstonians not all that generous, though finding punishments for vagrants were less severe than in the big cities. Grocery stores handed out 'odds & ends'. It was best to beg before the target's meal time than after. The reporter then tried out all the recommended methods. His results:
  • one-third of targets told him to go to the police station or Barriefield unemployment camp
  • one-third of targets gave (two pairs of sock, one-half pack of cigarettes, 10 cents)
  • one-third gave nothing.

I found multiple accounts in Whig clippings, reaching back to 1908.

OCTOBER 2, 1908 - Seven vagrants found in Tait's 40x16-foot hay mow on Montreal Street were forced out with pitchforks by six 'bluecoats' led by Inspector Arniel: "Come out of there, you beggars!" eliciting no tine casualties. Earlier, two men on Montreal Street had been approached by two tough-looking characters demanding money.
  • George Conway was working near Grass Creek, remanded for four days.
  • David Purtell was down by the Outer Station, fined $2 or 15 days.
  • James Ryan dropped off the steamer TORONTO, fined $1 or 10 days.
  • Cornelius Monaghan, the 'daddy' of the party, came to Kingston from Montreal two weeks ago, fined $5 or 1 month.
  • George McKenzie was fined $5 or 1 month.
  • Alfred Marsh was visiting friends on York Street, planning to go back to Toronto, remanded for four days.
APRIL 15, 1908 - Quarrymen working near the then-Grand Trunk Railway Outer Station had their dinner pails taken: food, pails and all. There was a group of hoboes in barns nearby.

APRIL 29, 1910 - Eight hoboes were put behind bars, six receiving terms of ten days to one month. They had 44 cents between them. They were using iodoform and 'court-plaster' bandages to elicit the sympathy of their begging targets:
  • Frank Murphy pleaded guilty to drunkenness and vagrancy when found lying on the tracks at Bailey's Broom Factory.
  • Martin Black was unable to work due to a swollen, inflamed hand. He received three weeks - time to have his hand doctored by the jail physician.
  • Michael Sheridan was selling court plasters, not begging. Sentenced to two weeks.
  • John Tompkins was saucy when arrested by Constable Taylor and Sergeant Nesbitt. He and two companions were found hiding behind a boxcar at the Outer Station.
  • William Curry was working his way from Montreal to Toronto to take a place on the steamer DUNDURN. Ten days.
  • John Rourke was heading for work in Napanee. Twenty days.
  • Louis Siegel showed he was working on the steamer CORNELIUS so was released.
  • Joseph Laponte had a position waiting on steamer HAMILTON. If his story held out, he would be released from his remand.

MAY 20, 1914 - Vagrants James Miller, Henry Dorsey and James McKay arrived at the Outer Station on an eastbound freight train, promptly arrested by Constables Batson, Cotter and Nicholson. They had been working east with a gang of six who continued east, possibly robbers. The men were taken by the constables into the city aboard the Suburban train. They were badly in need of a bath, having encountered the cinders along the way. They were charged with vagrancy, $5 plus costs for each. 

JULY 31, 1920 - GTR foreman A. Deshene, working on an extra gang near the Outer Station, found money and article missing from his boxcar boarding car. Petty thieving had been noted to be increasing, with a corresponding increase in the number of hoboes securing transportation without paying fares.

In 1925, following the murder of JP Calkin at Walsh, Alberta, Canadian Pacific was cracking down on hoboes 'riding the bumpers'. There were more hoboes in Western Canada in the spring preceding seeding, and in the fall, preceding harvest.

In 1931, the increasing number of private automobiles on the road led to more hitchhiking than riding freight trains. Trucks had No Passengers/No Riders signs. Hoboes were often winked at, and not encouraged during the unemployment conditions of the Great Depression. One young man said he had been out of work all summer, had been to the Pacific Coast plus Kingston-Toronto trips on his 'boxcar Pullman'. He noted the boxcar was not half-bad, but there was always the danger of falling under the moving train.

AUGUST 25, 1932 - Two carloads of provincial and city police were went to Kingston Junction (the Outer Station) to root out a dozen men camping on railway property. Get moving or go to jail, they were told.

FEBRUARY 5, 1934 - Thirty hoboes were stealing rides out of Kingston Junction and were ordered out of the then-CN yards.

AUGUST 19, 1935 - Contable Monahan of the RCMP apprehended Percy Robertson, Gordon Shenks and Gordon Thompson - three men riding the rails from St Catharines to Campbellton, NB. Each was assessed $10 plus costs or ten days in jail by Kingston's Magistrate Shea.

In early 1936, a larger number of transients was noted riding the rods, despite cold weather.

JULY 27, 1936 - Belleville Police arrested three men for Kingston, and Kingston reciprocated arresting two men for Belleville. Armand Paquin and Leo Wilson were charged with housebreaking in Belleville, stealing a guitar, binoculars, blanket and clothing (some wet and surmised to be off an outdoor clothesline). Their eastbound freight was met by CN Detective James Graham plus Kingston constables Platz and Murphy. Locked up in Kingston, they were to be taken to Belleville.

OCTOBER 8, 1938 - Reginald Tynes of no fixed address had been riding the rails all summer between Oshawa and Cornwall before stopping in Kingston. CN Constable George Foster arrested him on vagrancy charges and he was remanded four days.

In early 1940, railway police reported fewer men riding the rails. Men were enlisting for World War II, and industries were hiring for war production. "Only the real hard-boiled knights of the road who never work", were still out there, noted a railway policeman. Kingston saw only three dozen men per week, down from 300 men per week not long ago.

Two years later, in September 1942, the number of road-knights was again fewer due to the war. Transients had to register in the National Selective Service program, which halved the number of hoboes due to the prosperity of wartime! When asking for overnight accommodation, a man was asked for his NSS registration card. Police would feed breakfast to very old or very young transients. It was no longer a glamorous life. Some statistics on transient numbers were given. In 1938-39 there were 4-5 per day. By February, 1942 there were only 67 all month. In June, 1942 only 10 sought shelter for the night. That number was 25 in July and 22 in August.
It's interesting to note that the accounts centre on the east-west intercity GTR/CN line, not the north-south  K&P/CP trackage. The CP trains would have been much, much shorter therefore much harder to hop and ride undetected!

Though there had long been indigent men (winos) living around the Inner Harbour, many inhabiting boat houses.

Saturday 6 April 2024

Kingston & Pembroke - the series

For awhile, I've been looking for a website depicting the stations along the Kingston & Pembroke Railway/Canadian Pacific Kingston Subdivision. Eventually, I decided to create my own. Unexpectedly, it grew into a four-post series, going beyond stations to some of the local hinterland line's history and its facilities within Kingston that I've researched, though largely not had room to include on my layout. 

In this post, you'll find links below to all four parts in the series, hosted on my main Canadian Railway blog, Trackside Treasure. The reason for that site hosting the series revolved around railway content more than Kingston content. Regardless, here are the links:

New Embankment Scenery at the Interchange

Can't see the forest for the trees? Well, that's part of the idea. On this part of the layout, there are four parallel tracks: CP lead and siding, CN lead and siding. Usually, two or three of them are full of cars or a standing train. It looks very....congested. So I wanted to break up the scene visually. After all, several sections of the CN and CP waterfront trackage are surrounded by berms, embankments and vegetation. The best example that comes to mind is the former mainline curve between Elliott Avenue east to the Outer Station. I decided to place an embankment between the two CN and the two CP tracks. A recent purchase of a $5 bag of homemade wire-armature trees at the March Napanee Train Sale was a great bargain. Though pressed flat, I managed to "unwind" some of the branches and place them in front of the CN tracks (above) and in front of the CP tracks (below). An HO-scale hobo was quick to set up his shack.
I'm deficient at taking and posting in-progress photos. I am usually too focussed on completing the task rather than stopping in mid-project to take a photo! Here's a much earlier view of the same scene. For years, I had wood-cutting taking place in the 100% flat/boring area in which I made the embankment:
An overhead view of the new embankment, with two CN tracks at left, and two CP tracks at right:

I also planted a pole line. It's amazing how much our eyes 'tune out' such mundane, though prototypical mid-scene things like telegraph poles. I would never attempt wires on them, but they do help make the scene. Using wood makes the addition of trees and poles as easy as drilling a quick hole. It's important, though, not to remove the drill until ready to place the item. In the midst of all that green, the hole quickly 'disappears' from view!
The embankment consists of two few-inch sections of 1x2 pine lumber. I screwed them to the plywood benchwork, adding some humps and bumps with modelling clay. Then I cut and white-glued 'fairy mat', sold in 1 square-foot sections at Michaels for gnome gardens. I call it the poor man's static-grass! Final touches are some limestone chunks and trees, shrubs and ground foam spread around in white glue. Note the usual lack of ballast, perhaps cinders. If I feel keen, I may cut and glue a few limestone outcrops into the embankment.
The CN Hanley Spur section forces have come to take a look.
The berm regularly provides a backdrop for inbound/outbound cars on the CN interchange siding (right) and spurs (left) loosely modelled on the same tracks along Counter Street (CN Queens). Just a place to stash and display cars on the layout. I really like the look of the area now, wishing I had improved the scene sooner!

Thursday 28 March 2024

Causeway Repair Detours, 1967

It was rainy on Friday, April 7, 1967. Kingston police constable Garry Weir was detailed to direct traffic away from the Lasalle Causeway. Dominion Bridge Ltd. was performing maintenance on the bridge and was a couple of hours late meeting its planned 36-hour work window. The lift mechanism on the west end of the bridge was being replaced by a crew of ten for $100,000. Only one of these photos, the one below, made it to page 1 of the Whig that day. (Queen's University Archives, Kingston Whig-Standard Fonds, V142.4-128)
The top photo looks back toward City Hall, with Fort Frontenac at left, the Public Utilities Commission office building at right,  the site of Kingston Police Headquarters beginning built by T.A. Andre and Sons in 1971. At extreme right is the Kingston Public Transit System car barns. 
The next three photos show the opposite view, toward the causeway. This one had a bit too much car in it, so was edited out:
This one is j-u-s-t right. There's no car blocking the view, and we can see CP cars spotted in the tracks on Place d'Armes with Sowards Coal yard office visible at right. Behind the sign, the dredges and cranes of Canadian Dredge & Dock can just be seen.

Thursday 21 March 2024

Special Trains visit the Hanley Spur - Enhanced Post

The Rexall Train, the Flying Scotsman, the Discovery Train and Royal Trains are among special trains that have graced the Hanley Spur and CP trackage over the last 90 years. Although I originally published some of this material in January, 2019 you're reading an enhanced post. 

It was September, 1970 when the British Pacific arrived on a goodwill tour (top photo) and a certain insouciant six year-old future Hanley Spur layout-builder mugged for the camera. Note City Hall at left and the Holiday Inn at right. Read more here and see more photos of this venerable LNER Pacific along the waterfront.

In 1933, the London, Midland & Scottish 4-6-0 “The Royal Scot” arrived by ship in Montreal from the United Kingdom. The locomotive, renumbered 6100, was heading for the Chicago World’s Fair, travelling from Montreal to Toronto when it stopped in Kingston. Peter Gower kindly shared this photo showing the London, Midland & Scottish visitor here, with CN-style switch stand in foreground: 
On August 17, 1936 the Rexall Train came to the city. Pulled by New York Central 4-8-2 Mohawk 2873, the entire train was royal blue and white. The locomotive’s streamlined sheet metal and conversion to an oil-burner prepared it for a 29,000-mile trip across North America. Four display, lecture and dining cars, plus private observation car for Rexall President Louis Liggett were part of a train consist of twelve cars. All cars were given balloon-style roofs over their existing clerestory roofs. Coming from the U.S. Midwest and Michigan, the train visited Kingston on its way to Quebec City. Parked on CN trackage along Ontario Street near CLC and Gore Street, the train attracted large crowds.

The Royal Train of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrived in Kingston on May 21, 1939. Thirteen trainloads of spectators were brought to Richardson Stadium to cheer on the King and Queen’s motorcade while on their extensive cross-Canada tour. Their daughter Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited the Royal Military College in 1951.

In 1950 and 1952, hundreds of Canadian troops boarded special troop trains in Kingston during the Korean Conflict. CP trains at Place d'Armes and CN trains departing the Outer Station carried the soldiers to other bases or overseas. In September 1953, three cars of an Africa Zoo Train were spotted near CN’s freight shed. Spectators came to view animal displays in the cars. In October 1959, a carnival midway was loaded on flat cars at the Outer Station for furtherance to the next fair on its fall tour.

City Hall and the newly-opened Confederation Park hosted Canada’s Confederation Train from August 22 to 25, 1967. Arriving on the last remaining track across from City hall, the train was uncoupled with the two locomotives and steam generator car across Johnson Street near CLC, and its ten coaches between Johnson and the foot of Brock Streets. A line-up of eager visitors formed near preserved CP 1095, waiting to pass through the display cars. 

On September 28, 1970 the London & North Eastern Pacific 4472, “Flying Scotsman” arrived on the very same track along with its coaches and boat-tailed bar car. Designed by Gresley and built in 1923, the green-painted steam locomotive and train were brought to Boston from the United Kingdom to tour North America. It was specially fitted with a headlight and operating bell for the tour. Open to the public on September 29, the weather was generally English and overcast before departing for Toronto the next day!

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived by Royal Train at the Outer Station on June 27, 1973 for a motorcade to City Hall to celebrate the city’s Tercentenary. The Royal Train was wyed and staged on the Hanley Spur, with the Governor-General’s cars placed adjacent to the Belle Park golf course parking lot for the Royal Couple to reboard in the evening. Visiting Kingston again on September 28, 1984, the Royal Couple was taken by motorcade from the CN, now VIA Rail, station on Counter Street to Amherstview to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Loyalist settlement in Ontario.
In June, 1973 Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Kingston to celebrate its tercentenary. The train was stashed in the Hanley Spur, its tail-end observation car at Belle Park (above). Earlier, the guard of honour was ready at the Outer Station; the Hanley Spur behind the Vimy Band in the right-hand photo (L.C. Gagnon photos):
In July, 1978, Kingston was the premiere stop for Canada’s Discovery Train. Between July 22 and 26, the orange, black and white train was parked at the Hanley Spur’s north end along Montreal Street. The National Museums of Canada mounted displays in 15 cars which toured Canada between 1978 and 1980. One of the silhouettes painted on the cars was one of Kingston’s own bearded Fort Henry Guard. The display cars had previously been used for the U.S. Bicentennial American Freedom Train.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Kingston Historical Society Presentation

If you had told me five years ago that I'd be making a presentation on Kingston's history to the very group mandated to foster and maintain interest in the history and heritage of the City of Kingston and its environs, I would have doubted it would ever happen. Everything about the Kingston Historical Society seemed to focus away from where my interest lies. The lives of successful local figures, wealthy families and opulent King Street houses and their storied legacies were not my thing.

But it was the kind invitation to make a presentation to the Society, by Programme co-ordinator Dr. Duncan MacDowall that set me on a different course (my efforts at research and modelling on my Hanley Spur layout had not gone unnoticed). A course that led me to the impressive Kingsbridge Retirement Community venue on the evening of March 20. I was there to present my 90-slide PowerPoint-accompanied talk, "Two Miles, Two Railways, Two Obscurity?"

I was welcomed by Paul Van Nest (Membership and Web Host for the evening), Duncan (introduction, question period), Peter Gower (publications). I had met Peter previously, when we were both Kingston Whig-Standard community editorial board members. Paul and his wife Sharon knew my Mom and Dad through a church connection. Kingston really is a big small town, after all! I recognized Speaker Peter Milliken and the Rev. Bruce Cossar in the audience, as well as fellow rail enthusiasts Graham Oberst and Kurt Vollenwyder and Inner Harbour champion Mary Farrar! I didn't have a chance to meet President Paul Charbonneau, former Frontenac Paramedic Services Chief, my son's now-retired boss. Duncan noted the impressive turn-out in the room (50 attendees) and on Zoom (20 tuned in).

Everything went flawlessly. Refreshments were available, the technology co-operated, and the podium was positioned so I could easily see the Zoom/room and screen, with a nice microphone to boot. The carpeted room had comfy chairs, each with a small table and at least one attendee catnapped covertly after the lights were dimmed, as one might when feeling at home. 

Duncan kindly introduced me, thankfully failing to elaborate on my sung rendition of the Canadian Railroad Trilogy! He fielded questions from the room afterwards, and we had something of a tag-team microphone rapport. There was much to discuss, and I was in a setting in which I felt I could talk with kindred spirits, perhaps for hours! It was great to meet and chat with several audience members, and to sell a few copies of my second book.

Fellow author Steven Manders and I talked about today's book market. Dave McCallum and I might just have established a connection with Joe Quattrocchi about produce shipments by rail! A better link to my website would have helped, but via three emails, Mark Logan now has my blog address.

Before long, the evening wrapped up with the presentation to me on behalf of the Society by Duncan of a generous Novel Idea bookstore gift card and a treasured memento Martello-tower pin that I will use judiciously and treasure, respectively. 

When available, I'll provide links to Peter's write-up for the Society's Limelight newsletter and the Youtube Zoom video.....

Here's the March 20 presentation video.

My thanks to Duncan, Peter and Paul and all KHS members for recognizing the role railways have played in Kingston's history, and for inviting me to share my small part in fostering and maintaining interest in that connection.