The Canadian Railway Museum
11th August 2011
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff
Exporail - The Canadian Railway Museum - is approximately 25 minutes drive (**if** the traffic is flowing freely) from the centre of Montréal in the southern suburb of Saint Constant. Before we visited the museum I had a general knowledge, garnered over my whole life, of both the history and current operation of Canadian Railways. By the time I left I knew a considerable amount more and I admit before we even got into the car to drive back to the city I was well and truly hooked and had added Canadian Railways to my list of specific railway interests! Not to mention what I bought in the museum's well stocked shop.....
The museum site consists of the large main pavilion, a large shed with the reserve collection open to view, extensive grounds with exhibits, a miniature train, a full size train and a streetcar line to ride (not all are open or operate on all days) plus closed buildings and areas involved in preservation. The museum explains and displays the history of Canadian Railways and the part they played in developing the country and also the history of Montréal's streetcar system. The museum specifically concentrates on rolling stock built in Canada, however some are American designs built under licence. I have latterly come to the conclusion that since locomotive sheds and servicing facilities around the world are traditionally dark confined buildings the same mentality has followed through to railway museums around the world. Which is a shame because aircraft are similarly large exhibits but aircraft museums around the world tend to be in light and airy buildings where one can stand back a way to take in the exhibits. Exporail is par for the course for railway museums with interior lighting levels being low and exhibits situated with very restricted viewing angles. These general reservations aside, I enjoyed every second I was there and we could happily have spent all day there had we not needed to be back in the city by late afternoon. It also has to be said we enjoyed every second we were in Canada.
I took at least one picture of almost every item of rolling stock. However, I am not going to display the majority of the museum's collection on the internet and spoil things for them, and you, because a visit is a must. Instead there follows pictures of a small number of items that specifically caught my attention.
(above) Three views from the upper gallery of the main pavilion, giving you just a small idea of the scope of the museum. There are also rooms of railway artefacts, a cinema, a large model railway, an archives centre, a café and an enticing shop.
(right) The driving instructions tell you to turn off the Rue Saint-Pierre where you see the steam locomotive. Driving down the wide, pleasant, suburban street you can hardly miss it! Old Sydney Collieries 25 is a Baldwin 2-4-0 from 1900.
A streetcar line runs around the grounds. When we were there MTC 1959, a CC&F car from 1928, was providing the rides. The museum has an extensive local streetcar collection consisting of 43 items,which includes one horse drawn car and one sleigh. I have chosen only to display one streetcar - this is it!