The most difficult thing about doing a tour like this and running first to China and then all over Canada is not the exhaustion. It’s not the jetlag. It’s not the “if it’s Thursday, I must be in Montreal” travel syndrome. It’s being away from your family. It’s missing the chance to read a story to the kids before bedtime. It’s missing your four-year-old daughter’s dance recital. It’s hearing your six-year-old son telling you how much he misses you and how he doesn’t want you to go to China ever again (without him, that is). By Friday, I was ready to come home.

Montreal Central StationThe view from the Delta Centre Ville in Montreal

The hotel in Montreal is always a treat. It is the Delta Centre Ville in downtown Montreal. Check out the view from the room, above! When I was a kid, we stayed in a room here with the exact same view (it was the Hyatt back then) and watched the Turbo leaving the Turbo bay and crossing over while reversing into the station. Kind of like the photo below, but from farther away…

The Turbo at Central StationThe Turbo prepares to enter Central Station to pick up passengers. Photo by Bill Morrison

Train 61 from Montreal was a joy, though I was barely conscious until Cornwall. How could I be? I had to wake up at 05:30 to start watching trains out of my hotel window! Fellow VIA fan Eric Gagnon met me in Kingston. Eric writes a blog called Trackside Treasure which, amazingly, seems to be mostly about the modelling era and locations of my basement layout. So I am a big fan! He’s recently published a book called Trackside with VIA: The First 35 Years, which is essential reading if you model VIA. It is chock full of consists as well as some really useful facts presented by none other than our good friend, Jakob Mueller, seen in my June 1st blog entry.

Eric Gagnon and Jason Shron at Kingston StationHanging out with Eric Gagnon at Kingston Station. Photo by Andrew Gagnon

“Brilliant,” I thought. “I’ll take a cab home from Guildwood rather than wait half an hour for the GO train from downtown. It will be faster and easier!” Riiight. The cab took about 90 minutes, and by the end of it Abdul and I knew everything about each other and he was claiming naming rights on my next child. He’s a 57-year-old Muslim from India. I’m a 36-year-old Jew from Montreal. And we are the same. The Arabs and Israelis should all be forced to spend 90 minutes in a cab with me and Abdul between Guildwood and Vaughan, and then we would have peace in the Middle East…

At Credit ValleyIn a sea of model railroaders (and one lady) at Credit Valley. Photo by Matt Soknacki

After a wonderful and restful Saturday with Sidura and the kids, Dan, Matt and I were off to Credit Valley Railway in Mississauga for a Meet & Greet with what seemed like all of Bob’s customers. Thank God for Matt and Dan. There were a LOT of people there, and the three of us were on our toes for about four hours! Bob managed to sell eight Canadians on the spot, as well as FP9A locomotives and a couple of U2G Northernsmanufactured by my good friend, Darren Altbaum. The U2G is a massive CN 4-8-4 steam engine that hauled fast passenger trains and freights in the 1940s and 1950s. Darren’s company, TrueLine Trains, has recently completely redesigned its U2G model and it’s now a real beauty that works well. You can find out more about it here. Apparently steam engines are popular with modellers. I can’t see why – they all look the same to me! Now give me a hefty P42DC or FPA4 and now we’re talking real railroading! (I’m ducking for cover!)

The CanadianThe Canadian on the Credit Valley store layout. Photo by Matt Soknacki

Following the Meet & Greet we carried The Canadian over to Credit Valley’s new layout and watched it roll! Wow, did it ever look nice. And it didn’t even fall over! Thanks to Bob and all the crew at Credit Valley Railway for hosting us. For those of you further west, Dan and I will be at Modeller’s Choice on Monday from around 4 to 6 p.m. A full tour schedule can be found here. OK – that Turbo photo was so awesome let’s have another one!

The TurboThe Turbo… Mmmmmm……..Photo by Bill Morrison