Photos by: Katrina Okane
Yes, the first photo I took is of my toe!. I was bored, and had nothing else to shoot before bed. It gets a bit better I promise.
To all the the photo experts out there, please bare with my amateur attempts using manual. I am slowly learning.
Was amazed at the amount of trains today; 4 freights and 4vias (passenger trains).
The weather could not have been better either… phew, I never thought I’d say it… but i am trained out for the day.
On top of the trains, there was a cool dog, a live crew change , and some kids who thought it would be cool to try and touch one of the moving trains. There was some cool artwork by the tracks too.
On May 17 my good friends Shawn and Nina informed me they would be making a surprise visit to Montreal from Ottawa (2 hours north west of mtl). I have had many crazy adventures with the two of them, and it was a real treat to have them out. I took work off Saturday and Sunday, something that will not happen again.
Just before they arrived on Friday night, I was invited to a friends for a beer, right around the same time I’d be picking up Shawn and Nina. Most would kindly refuse the offer, but it just so happened their apartment was right near the bus stop where the “visitors” would be arriving. So I made it work, and what a good decision it was.. It was in an interesting area, a street which i was not aware of, or can name online.
Justin, the resident at the apartment on the cool street, suggested we head up to “the” rooftop as it was getting dark. I shrugged my shoulders, nodded, and we headed up the rusty staircase. (I was expecting it to be like any other apartments’ rooftop). I started to notice graffiti on the walls, and a moldy scent fromt the interior as we ascended to the top.
Keep in mind, he said “the” and not “his” rooftop. It clicked, and to my surprise, the building was abandoned. I smiled as the adrenaline started to run loose. I tried to hold some of it in, as to not embarass myself in front of the others. I love abandoned places…. and the visitor’s did as well.
As soon as they arrived, I brought them to the spot. We spent the next two nights there, and explored the interior before sunset. I must have been up and down that staircase 10+ times this weekend. The best part was that it overlooked the train tracks. And everyone knows shawn and I have a thing for trains.Throughout the weekend we definetley played our part in stimulating the Montreal’s economy. We had lots of fun at the following places: St.Sulplice Bar, Boustan, Brewtopia, Brasserie Benelux, Tam Tam’s, Old Montreal, Bar Diana’s and Three Amigos.
If you have taken the time to look through those links you will notice one unusual one. Diana’s. A bar close to home. It is not the safest place, I do not go there so often, but I have met some great people there, and I knew Shawn would enjoy checking it out. I have some great inuit friends like Betsy, for example. We spend time exchanging stories. Her daughter works in a mine in Northern Quebec. Very nice and generous person. Let me tell you, It’s not everday that a white man can gain even an ounce of respect from an Inuit person. You may or may not be aware of the long and hostile history between the two peoples. But I encourage you to look into it.
This is one interpretation of the place..
“From the outside, Bar Diana is a cold and gloomy place. Inside, there’s an unusual warmth—the warmth of a place where the marginalized can be among equals”
It was nice to have a few other friends join as well. One in particular from Ottawa who happened to be visiting his mother in Montreal.
Of course we also drank lots of beer and that meant lots of empties.
We are not alcoholics by the way, I found many of these in the abandoned building!
Total: $20. I see it as $20 I would normally not have. Some will go into savings, the rest, toward a lunch and coffee.
Just yesterday, I found another abandon building. Am I on a streak or something?
This is the North/South GO train (Passenger service) that runs from Toronto, ON all the way up to Barrie, ON. If I can remember correctly- there are about 3 trains going each way before 9am and after 5pm.
I have yet to ride on the GO train yet. But first, while i’m out here in Montreal I need to get on the AMT train which is their equivalent on the island.
Of course, I will document the whole thing so you guys can see what a child I am when it comes to trains.
Anyways, this is what I refer to as my “spot”. Although, there are many kids who used to and still probably hang out there now.I used to see the trains come screaming up from the city while I sat under the bridge with my friends usually drinking Lakeport beer.
As long as you didn’t make much noise, the neighbors would never you under there.
This picture was taken last summer when I went back to visit friends who still live in the area.
Because it is a secluded rail bridge you can bet there was ton of artwork on the walls. The artwork, which changed, almost every three days, inspired me and brought me further into this scene, as early as 14 years old (2004-2005). I started drawing in books and eventually putting it on these walls.
My friends used to smoke pot and watch me paint under the bridge. They thought it was absolutely “awesome”. Of course they did, they were absolutely “stoned”. After I turned 18 I realized painting under bridges was not worth it, but still had passion for this underground scene, and started to document artwork made on trains or by the tracks even up until today.
The trees on our old spot have really grown in and but the quality of artwork has dropped below zero. The York Regional Police decided to do a raid on this bridge trying to limit the amount of punks and gangs hanging out under here in 2005 I think. Probably due to the noise complaints from the neighbors. It is still a nice place to hang out and clear your mind. If you time your visit right, the GO train will come flying through and it’s horns will absolutely blow your ears out! The horns get extremely amplified off the concrete, and will always have this memory with me. I have been scared shit-less many times and it never gets old.
This is the only picture of the actual GO train I can find that I took. I am not to happy about it but OK.
Can you see how my passions for beer cap collecting, beer, travel, trains and art have been integrated all along? I’d like to say this bridge really shaped who I am. I went to school close to this bridge for about 11 years, and still visit the area today.. 16 years… wow I am getting old.
Below: Another spot I have, but a bit far from home to call it a regular one. I come here to take pictures of oil tags on the rail cars. Sometimes there are a few nice graffiti pieces on them as well. I will have to share those with you when I can find them.
Camping in White River, ON.. of course by the tracks.
And like i said I am a kid when it comes to trains…
Surprisingly I was using a point and shoot here!
Now, I don’t know if you guys follow any railroad moniker’s or streaks but let me tell you, this is one you’ll see all the time.
They call this guy “rail owl” and you will see him on at least one boxcar, tanker, gondola, or hopper given any line in North America. He started doing these things around 2006. I know this because he usually leaves a date below his marking and various quotes such as “I miss her” or “The Bowl”
Check out this link on flickr and you will see what pops up when you type “Owl Moniker”
These are photos that people have taken of his markings all over North America.
If you pay close attention you’ll see that not one of these markings is on anything but a train (Maybe one or two recently)
But what I have found helped pinpoint his location. I found one of his markings on something other than a train! People were pretty ecstatic in the community. I was very shocked too. I said to myself.. “This freakin’ bugger is everywhere”.. For the longest time, more so before he got popular, I swore that he followed me around everywhere rail spot I went..
He has been putting hard work in to this for several years now… and some friends and I have come to the conclusion that he works for Canadian Pacific Rail in South Central, Ontario (Where I grew up). It makes sense as the railroad supplies the Markal Oil Paint Sticks he uses in White and Black and he also works in the yard which allows him legal access to all the train cars. We can conclude this, among other things, because of the types of cars he chooses to right on.
There are 1000′s of artists all over North America putting up small monikers on trains. Although it is illegal, the rail companies sort of turn a blind eye to it. I mean as long as there getting goods A and B to points C and D as fast and as cheap as possible (among some other things) they are happy.
It’s all about maximizing shareholders wealth. So a small marking on the side of a train does not effect their goals.
Year’s and years of watching and photographing trains has helped me to build a database in my head of all these artists and in many cases have actually led me to meeting some of the artists. It is always cool feeling to meet the face behind the work. I know over 35 railroad artists in Canada and the US. The people I’ve met “by the tracks” and some of the things i’ve found beside the tracks always surprise me and keep me coming back for more.
Anywhere I go, however I go or get there, I will somehow find a way to see a train or get a view of some rails or a siding.
This fascination could have evolved slowly after my parents bought me a train set when I was a little gafffer and grew even more as I immersed myself into the rail art phenomenon which I know I will always be a part of.
One of the purposes of my upcoming bike tour, and all that will precede it, will be to explore the railroads in the many provinces of Canada and in the US. Here are some pictures of the “rails” and related “artwork” that I have captured throughout Northern Ontario, Mid Eastern US, Quebec, and Vancouver.