The longest motive power for railway has been steam; since those early days, steam-powered locomotives carried people and freight worldwide. And sure, by the late 19th and early 20th Century, electricity became a popular choice for inter-urban railways. But on the mainlines, steam was king, and the last locomotives produced in the 20th Century could travel long distances and high speeds; I’m talking, of course, of the Northern’s, Pacific’s, and even larger engines. But these had one weakness, you needed a large crew to run them, two at the minimum, and they needed a lot of maintenance. Plus, they were loud, dirty, and took upRead More →

At first glance, the old Don Station at Roundhouse part appears custom-built for the miniature railway, a popular attraction to visitors at the park and the Railway Museum. But when you get closer, you realise that it is indeed a full-sized station with a special place in the history of the Canadian Pacific in Toronto. When the Ontario & Quebec Railway line from Perth to Toronto finished construction in 1884, access to the city proved limited. Trains arriving from points east or heading east out of the city had to travel a roundabout route. Travelling across the northern border of the station, they approached throughRead More →

While attending the local Toronto Urban Exploration Meetups, the biggest question in conversation was where we wanted to visit? In those days, the UE community was tight-knit and often secretive, and things like Instagram were still new and not so much in the public eye. During one cold January event, we ended up in Leaside to check out a warehouse from Winpack. I quickly discovered through my work that we were not in a warehouse but rather a significant historical building that maintained locomotives, not storing paper products. The Canadian Northern Railway grew out of a small collection of defunct railways in Manitoba to extendRead More →

If you have ever walked north on Yonge Street, you will probably notice a tall clock tower next to a rail overpass that looks straight out of Italy. While it has spent more time selling alcohol than train tickets, Toronto North remains a station that genuinely shows the grandeur of rail travel during the golden age. Canadian Pacific gained a foothold into the city of Toronto through two means, on the western approach through the Credit Valley Railway and from the North-East by way of the Ontario & Quebec Railway and the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway. Ontario & Quebec was revived in 1881 throughRead More →

Last week I alluded to the rail lands in Toronto; these lands dominated the space between the lake and Union Station on Front Street. These lands grew up through the late 1850s as the anchor point to major and minor operators. Space was used to marshall, maintain, and store rolling stock fleets. And one of the most prominent buildings in these yards was the roundhouse. The idea of the roundhouse as a means to store and maintain locomotives is credited to Robert Stephenson. He designed the structure and used one with the London & Manchester Railway. While that roundhouse is long gone, the world’s oldestRead More →

When it comes to instant film, there isn’t much that draws me to the medium. Other than the fact that it’s an instant film, it’s amazing that after Polaroid pulled the plug, someone was able to backwards engineer and recreate it. And I’ve been with them since the beginning from those early steps and some pretty terrible prototypes. And while Impossible Project turned to Polaroid Originals to reclaim the Polaroid name, the spirit of this has remained and started to produce normal repeatable products. Sure they may have lost their spirit of adventure, having a colour instant integral film in the 21st Century is somethingRead More →

And perhaps the most incredible reminder of the grandeur of rail travel during the golden age of rail in Canada. If you have ever travelled by rail into, out of or through Toronto, you have more than likely passed through Toronto’s Union Station. While the railways that operate out of Union Station have changed since its inception, it remains a proper Union station with five railways continuing to call at the city. But the station we have today is the third Union Station in Toronto. But its location has been connected to the railway since the first years of the railroad in Ontario. The stripRead More →

This was truly Minolta’s last hurrah; the age of the film SLR was starting to come to a close. Rather than let it go out with a whimper, Minolta took things by the reigns and rode out into the sunset with a sixth and final generation of film cameras before merging with Konica and leaving 35mm behind. Meet the Maxxum 70, elsewhere known as the Dynax 60 or α-70. While much of the final era of cameras from Minolta were continuations of their original three market segments, the Maxxum 9 (Professionals), Maxxum 7 (Advanced Amatures), and Maxxum 5 (Consumers). But this final subset of camerasRead More →

Once you have it down, one of the most satisfying parts of home development is taking it to the next level is building your B&W developer. And the first developer for many photographers that they brewed up themselves, including me, is Caffenol. As the name implies, it’s a developer with a coffee base. Specifically, the caffeic acid that is found in instant coffee. While it’s easy to buy all the raw material in your average grocery store to build your caffenol, there is something nice about having a ready-made pack. And it should come as no surprise that the fine folks at the Film PhotographyRead More →

I love black & white in all forms, film, digital, and even instant. And up until only recently, the only way to get B&W instant film was through Polaroid (formerly Impossible & Polaroid Originals). From the start, the B&W stocks from this new generation of the instant integral film have been the strongest performers. But it only got better as the formulation was improved. Today the new BW600 is perhaps the instant film I reach for the most, although not too much due to the cost of the stock. It gives pleasing images and is always a fun go-around and works in almost all generationsRead More →