Friday, December 12, 2014

Traveling Murray Bay Sub in 1983 - Part 1

Earlier this week, Jérôme contacted me after a friend of him got his hand on a collection of VHS and BETA tapes. These were collected by a member of Groupe TRAQ when CN got rid of them a few years ago. The tapes were used to feed an early train simulator from the 80s and that’s why they are so interesting.

Filmed in 1983 with a camera on top of a hi-rail pickup truck, most CN subdivisions in Quebec are recorded from mile 0 to end of steel. Better, this process was done for both direction so you can see everything from two sides.

Maybe my reputation of living a lifestyle from the past back fired to me, but Jérôme guessed I had a functional Betamax deck at home ready to watch some cassette... He was right!

So far, I only watched parts of Murray Bay and St. Raymond subdivisions. Nevertheless, it was a real eye opener because what you get is prototype information about the entire line from a mainline perspective.

Murray Bay subdivision changed quite drastically over the last 30 years. First of all, deindustrialization is blatant. I have memories of Beauport area and its numerous industries, but these videos prove how things were dynamic back then. Now the town is a large sleepy suburb and no more an economic motors. Only one thing didn’t change: Montmorency. Houses, streets, almost everything is still as it could be seen in the early 80s. The closure of Dominion Textile in 1985 was the last nail in the coffin of this once prosperous working-class borough.

Another thing that caught my eye was the growth of vegetation. Most areas were still clear of trees and panoramas were generally impressive. That is true of Beauport, Côte-de-Beaupré and even Charlevoix. Most of that is now gone.

So if you don’t bother, we'll tour Murray Bay sub as it was in July 1983. Sorry about the crappy TV screen caption, I have no means available to encode BETA tapes. Also, these images are mainly for the purpose of illustrating the subdivision and not intended for reproduction. Be aware, a few surprises awaits you as we travel the subdivision.

All Aboard!!!!

Our travel start at the junction between Limoilou yard and Murray Bay Subdivision. On the layout, this is the staging loop inside the closet.

This is MP 0.8 on Murray Sub. The subdivision start after the turnout.
Then, we enter Maizerets (part of D'Estimauville). This is where trains gather at the end of the day. It acts as an interchange with Limoilou yard. On the layout, this is the first scene after the staging loop.

Cement cars wait in the siding at Maizerets.
A nice PSC caboose at the end of the consist. Domain Maizerets is in the background.
Next scene is Rivière de la Cabane aux Taupiers. You'll see how little vegetation was there back in 1983. The field on the right was where Abattoir Legrade was standing until about 1980.

Bridges over the small brook where ducks gather. D'Estimauville avenue in the background.
Let's move about a mile until we reach Giffard. We can see a strange turnout standing in the middle of nowhere and perfectly aligned with a gentle sloping road. This is the old junction with Beauport tramway line called the Kent House line. It's terminal was Kent House near Montmorency Falls. The line was closed down circa 1934 but 50 years after, the junction was still visible even if the roadbed was now Boulevard des Chutes. The junction was converted into a team track siding for a nearby sawmill.

Junction with old Kent House Line in Eastern Giffard.
About a mile further east, we venture into Villeneuve where Brique Citadelle and Ciment Saint-Laurent dominated the place. The track lost in grass on the right is the old double main line that is still standing there nowadays but fully covered in vegetation. Most key features of these scenes are modelled on the layout at almost full scale. Brique Citadelle plant will probably be incorporated into the layout too.

Entering Villeneuve yard limits. Brick pallettes on the left, cement plant in background.
Brique Citadelle loading dock on left.
Rue du Sous-bois crossing and the cemet plant.
A cut of cement hoppers waiting on Villeneuve left-most siding.
A short 3-cars train moving out from the plant.
Industrial switcher pulling the 3 cars. Montmorency in the background.
Next scene is Montmorency Falls where stood the massive Dominion Textile plant, one of the largest cotton mill in North America at a time. Domtex was the world largest producer of denim before it collapsed after a failing bid to secure its future in synthetic textiles. The plant closure doomed the borough of Montmorency and time stopped there. The only parts of the entire video that are identical to what we can see nowadays is Montmorency. The place was put under a glass bell and stopped to evolved. 30 years later, Dominion Textile ghost is still haunting the place even if material remnants are almost inexistant.

The plant itself was featured in Frederic Back's short animated movie Crac! from 1981 (Dominion Textile scene at 10:50). The movie tells a tale of industrialization in rural Quebec and loss of identity, you'll even see good old steam action and I like to think this is a late 1880s QRL&PCo consist. It is set in a generic setting, but many visuals are heavily influenced by Côte-de-Beaupré area... like some kind of artistic epitaph. Crazy, but this short movie is still cited by the Japanese animation industry as a source of inspiration along with Back's seminal The Man Who Planted Trees. Crac! excellent traditional square danse song (time 2:40) is coincidentally named La Galope de La Malbaie and thus, in some way, is related to the layout. Songs are performed by folk group Le Rêve du Diable. Well, I must say watching this movie always depress me... it's like looking in the mirror on a bad day. Anyway, let's move!

Leaving the residential area, Dominion Textile on upper right corner.
Dominion Textile private crossing with old wood crossbucks.
Old QRL&PCo hydroelectric stockpen remnants on the left.
Dominion Textile unloading deck for cotton boxcars. Montmorency river in the background.

Final scene is just accross Montmorency River in Boischatel. This is the original Brique Citadelle plant. Until three years ago, most foundations could still be seen there. It doesn't seem it was still rail-served in 1983, there's no siding branching off the main line.

Brique Citadelle in Boischatel. Warehouses on both side of main line.
Old rail-served warehosue on the left, brick palettes on the right.
Next time, we will travel Côte-de-Beaupré up to St-Joachim.

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