As I stood there in the dark, in the cold, waiting for the train to cross the High Level Bridge in Lethbridge Alberta, I couldn’t help but think about CP Railway Officer Stephen, who was waiting back at the parking lot for me to return. We had no way of communicating as my phone had died in the cold. He was about 700 meters away from me through the dark, along the narrow dirt path, but I had come on this trip for one thing really, to photograph the Holiday Train crossing the bridge. I spied a crowd of people and their cars a few hundred meters behind and across the river from me, waiting to see the train as well. Finally after what seemed like forever I could hear the train whistle. It was still a few minutes away and as I struggled to see through the dark, and the headlights of the other train spotters were being obscured by a thick bank of fog. The train’s horn grew louder as the fog bank crept up to me, then past me then I couldn’t see the bridge anymore, not by eye and not by camera. I started to feel a bit defeated, but just then an old personal mantra crept into my head - ‘Some of the most interesting photographs are made in some of the most unusual and uncomfortable situations’ - so I stuck it out. I reset my camera and waited.
Sure enough, the train’s bright holiday lights pierced through the fog and I was able to create an image that has now been seen by millions of people all over the world.
Leaving Blackie we were treated to a surreal scene of hoar frost and fog all the way to Vulcan where the fog was thick as soup. It seemed to add to the ambiance of a wonderful Holiday celebration going on in town. Not long after leaving Vulcan we were out of the fog and enjoying the waning daylight. The Train was really starting to show her true colors (pun intended). Our next stop was for a crew change at the railyards in Coalhurst. A non event stop, but a seemingly popular one by the amount of people lingering on the side roads.
This was my spot to hop off the train and grab a ride in to Lethbridge to shoot the train crossing the High Level Bridge as it entered the city for the final event stop of the day.
It wasn’t without stress, being here in the middle of the dark and fog. CP Cop Stephen had to be up to the train as soon as possible to help with security. He being from Vancouver and thinking he knew where to go after the photo, but me knowing otherwise and devising the easiest way to the event location, but not really 100% until I get there, you know? Stressful, like Jim Cuddy depends on this guy getting there to help ensure his safety without really knowing that there is a stress happening in the background. But as you read above, all turned out fine without incident or anyone being late for anything.
The main image, the one that people went crazy for, has been seen by millions around the world (here on their Facebook) and also has directly helped the Lethbridge Food Bank beyond the obvious donations from CP. I sold the image (Link here) over and over and have made a cash donation from the proceeds of the print.
The fog came and went, almost like I’d have asked for exactly that. I didn’t but I was glad for the opportunity to plan to be in the right place for this to happen!
You’d be impressed by the amount of work that goes into each and every performance. Here is something I wrote on my facebook during the trip that illustrated the passion of the people who put this all together, and make it happen.
This moment between a Father and Son (see them below, taking a Holiday Train selfie?). I witnessed this moment over and over again in the 2 days we on the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. I got to share this wonderful experience with my wife and son. It‘s why I do what I do, to experience and share what is special in the world.
You all need to know that the people that operate and organise this train are employees of CP, but many of them are giving up their own free time, to make this all happen. On top of that, they are all really wonderful people. Here‘s something: There are riders on board between some of the stops. Some riders are employees, some are service clubs like the Boys and Girls clubs. The train staff make and serve hot chocolate and cookies to everyone. Then when the train stops for a performance, the staff are looking after security, timing, all the operational parts of the concert, then they come back in and vacuum and wash the train car so the next group can have the same amazing experience as the first (60 people at most stops). They do this up to 7 times a day. They also write the big giant cheques you see given out at each stop, meet all the local dignitaries and remember every ones names so they can introduce them on stage… You should know all this.
The people that make this train happen, are some of the best people I have ever met. Professional, real and hard-working. I feel so honoured to have been on this train for these two days. (It wasn't a paid job for me. In a series of happen-chances, I was invited on-board simply for the experience, we were responsible for our own hotel accommodation and transportation back to Calgary). Please give generously to your food bank, in the name of these incredible, caring people from CP!
We have traveled by train before. We are sad to be leaving the train. It’s so, so much about the journey aboard a train. We arrived in Fernie after witnessing an incredible Elk Valley Sunset, grabbed up our stuff and hopped off. And that was that. The train pulled away without us, having a couple more stops this day. We followed along for the rest of the journey, longing to figure out a way to be a part of this incredible train in the future. Who knows what the future holds… time will tell.