Thursday, January 7, 2010

Can you spot the difference?

During lunch today I dropped in at the York Street Station to see how the work was progressing and to take another multitude of photos.
One thing that I am aware of doing is taking a bunch of pictures in areas where absolutely nothing has changed since my last visit. I still do it though in case of the slim chance that something tiny may have changed since I was there last.
Why not? These are digital photos after all. I can just delete repetitions as I find them.
But I don't. It's the pack rat in me that will save every single one JUST IN CASE it may prove to be important one day.

After I had uploaded the pictures to the computer and was looking through them an idea struck me that I thought may be interesting.
I believe that I have seen almost every photo that exists of the York Street Station from the past. I'll admit that there are probably thousands of historical station photos in old family photo albums gathering dust in attics and basements throughout Fredericton and the surrounding area.
Sadly we will likely probably never see most of those pictures. What a shame that is.

Fortunately there exist many excellent online archives that contain a wealth of photos from the past.

When I first joined up with the Fredericton Friends of the Railway I spent hours scouring the internet for anything I could find of the York Street Station.
One of the best sources I discovered was the Provincial Archives.

As I was looking at today's pictures it struck me that several of the views in my photos were similar or the same as views I had seen in the historical photos.

I set out to locate some of the historical photos I had in mind. Fortunately for me I had posted many of them in the Yahoo! group page that I had created for the Fredericton Friends of the Railway so I was able to find them easily to use in this blog.

How cool would it be to see photos of the station from the past along with recent photos as it appears today?
That sounded pretty darn cool to me.
Luckily for me I also happen to have this great place of my blog to do this.

This is only a sampling of the thousands of pictures I have on CD's, hard drives, DVD's but it's enough to have the cool effect I was looking for.
I hope you feel that too.

This first one is of an announcer or reporter type atop the front canopy of the station during the Royal visit to Fredericton of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1951. I found it in the Provincial Archive collection.
The second is my photo showing the same general area.

This next one is a group of men standing on the platform. It also came from the Provincial Archives. I don't recall where I read that they are railway company executives but I did read that somewhere.
The station looked pretty snappy and impressive, didn't it?

This next one I took today facing the same general direction. Our little station isn't quite as snappy and impressive as the last photo but give it a little time.
You'll see.

These next two views are two of my favourites. I don't recall where I found them but believe it was in a Canadian Pacific resource somewhere.
They are interior shots. I am totally in awe of how shiny and pristine the station looked at that time. It certainly was something for Fredericton to be proud of. Not to worry, it will be again very soon.

Missing a little bit of that shine right now. This is facing the exact same direction towards the same windows. The floor isn't shiny because it's only dirt at present.

This next pair are facing the same direction but somewhat different. In the old photo we see a large part of the very well maintained waiting area with the station master's office in the background. My present photo has this office area as the center focus. You get the idea.
One thing that always struck me about the beauty of the York Street station was all of the wood in there. I love that. It's a shame that one of wood's worst enemies is water. The same water that's been whooshing through the non-roof of the station for several years now destroying and rotting all of that beautiful wood.

The last one here is from the Provincial Archives and was taken in 1935 of Canada's Governor-General Lord Bessborough and his party on the platform during their visit to Fredericton.
I love those top hats and dressy outfits. I'm not being sarcastic, I really do love what these guys are wearing. They look about as formal as formal can ever get and I'll bet they felt like a million bucks too.
I know I would.

Speaking of a million bucks, here is another photo of the repairs to the front canopy shown behind the folks in the photo above.

I'll end this by restating that I am excited and thrilled with what is happening here.
Many believed that there could never again exist any hope of survival for the York Street Station. I confess that I shared this thinking.
But the little piece of hope in me never really died.
It merely hid itself in the far back corner of my brain hoping for the chance to fight its way to the surface one more time some day.
That day came last fall with the announcement of what was to come.
If there is anyone that follows me or reads this blog that has been thinking to themselves "What could possibly be the benefit of restoring this place?"
The photos above answer that question.

Royalty came to town and stood in this very spot.
Athletes departed from here to represent every one of us in Olympic Games, tournaments and matches of every kind.
When the games were done and the athletes returned to us, this is where we cheered for them and welcomed them home with open arms whether they won or not.
The saddest of all are the soldiers who waved goodbye to loved ones as they stepped up onto the trains from this station to fight for Canada in far away places.
Many of them never returned to the loved ones and this place is the last memory of them at home.
The other side are the ones who did return home. This station is the place where the strongest feeling of happiness imaginable occurred when we saw them again and breathed again with the realization that they were home with us again.

This sad little building that fought so hard against time and the elements to remain standing will show itself to be the beautiful source of civic pride that it once was.

I trust that you will agree.

Stay well,


Cheryl said...

It will be just a few short months from now that the Boys and I will walk with you on those shiney new floors.
All my Love and Support.

Wanderer said...

Tim, I have been in many train stations over my musical career. Some I sat in for hours and others I barely had tome to purchase my ticket before departing. I seldom lingered in the York Street Station, always anxious to see my family when I arrived and delayed leaving as long as possible. What I will miss most is not the station itself, but the most wonderful means of ground transportation to have ever existed. I miss trains!