Moving day at museum a rush for train fans

Hundreds of train enthusiasts turned up at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa on Thursday morning to witness some famous old engines trundle down the tracks once again.

Hundreds flock to Canada Science and Technology Museum to watch collection moved to conservation centre

CP 1201, a steam locomotive built in 1944, proved to be the big draw of Thursday morning's move at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Hundreds of train enthusiasts turned up at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa on Thursday morning to witness some famous old engines trundle down the tracks once again.

Despite the early start of 7:30 a.m., an estimated 600 spectators lined the tracks leading to the museum's new conservation centre, which will soon house some 85,000 artifacts from the very small to the very large — some of the largest being the museum's collection of eight locomotives and nine rail cars.

Among the collection is CP 1201, a steam locomotive built in 1944, and the Governor General's rail cars used to convey British royalty including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939, and Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1977.

It was slow going as the trains were shunted into place by a diesel locomotive, so there was plenty of time for the crowd to take it all in.

Timelapse: Move-in day at the museum

3 years ago
Duration 0:37
This timelapse video shows part of the process of moving a steam locomotive, built in 1944, into the new conservation centre.

For young train fan Brandon Ennis, whose mother made sure he was able to attend the event, it was a dream come true.

"I'm honoured to be here. I've never seen something so great about trains in my whole entire life," he said.

A volunteer from the Bytown Rail Society uses a diesel locomotive to shunt CP 1201 into its new home. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Sharon Babaian, the museum's curator of land and marine transportation, was equally thrilled.

"It's a much better home than the one they're coming from. Much better lighting, climate control and dust control, and much better for the public," Babaian said.

Christina Tessier, president and CEO of Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, enjoys the view from CP 1201 as the locomotive is pushed into its new home. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The train exhibit is expected to officially open in the spring of 2020, but there will be more opportunities to view the collection before then.

"Seeing the thing in the flesh is so much better than seeing photographs, otherwise why would we collect this stuff?" Babaian asked. "There's evidence in these objects and there's lived experience in these objects, and that makes for great stories and great history."

Trains move into Science and Technology Museum

3 years ago
Duration 1:43
Crowds of onlookers gathered to watch several rail cars and locomotives be moved into the museum's new conservation centre off St-Laurent Boulevard.
Weighing 185 metric tonnes, CP 1201 is the largest single artifact in Ingenium’s collection. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)
The public will have to wait until the spring of 2020 for the next chance to see CP 1201 up close, once the museum's conservation centre officially opens for special tours. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Sisters Gay Cook, left, and Grete Hale are longtime supporters of the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Their father, Cecil Morrison, once owned the land where the museum's new conservation centre now sits. "'t was very meaningful to be here and see the children so excited about what's happened to this land,' Hale said. 'It will be forever now.' (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

CP 1201 was the last steam locomotive built at a Canadian Pacific shop, CP Angus in Montreal. That pedigree helped spare it from the scrapheap over the years as trains converted from steam to diesel-electric. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)


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