To the untrained eye, you might see a bunch of old iron and steel. To the enthusiast, it’s a portal into nostalgia and romance. For well over a year now we’ve been featuring periodic posts showcasing some of the really incredible artifacts and historical machinery we encountered on our day long visit to the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, BC, on Vancouver Island in Canada. And as such, we can think of no better way to wind up our long running photoblog series “The Toad’s Tonka Toys” than by leaving on a historic steam locomotive.
We’ve said it many times before, necessity is the mother of all invention. And as an engineer myself I can’t help but be completely entranced by the contraptions that were invented in the last 100-150 years with all their pistons, pumps, pipes and other such paraphernalia. Each and every item on these old trains had a purpose, and in viewing the machine in its entirety these disparate little pieces suddenly turn into a masterpiece. It’s a breathing, snorting, loud, clamorous old contrivance that truly becomes so very beautiful and graceful as it takes to the tracks.
Without the advent of railroads our entire island would still be as it was over 200 years ago, inhabited by small groups of local aboriginal people and the indigenous wildlife. The weather here can be rather inclement and just trying to pilot such a machine over the treacherous landscapes that form the island would be an exercise in courage itself.
It’s exactly this kind of courage that is needed to tame a land.
Each locomotive that came to the island to perform its special services had a unique persona. Even the trim found itself the recipient of paint, highlighting the lines and details that comprise the engine. You sure can feel the love and the connection that people had with these old trains, with many of them becoming important parts of the family to those who used and counted on them daily.
Almost as if it is posing for a portrait, the old #1 at the BC Forest Discovery Centre stands ready and willing for its next assignment. The beautiful lines of the boiler, the smokestack and the wheels reflect light and design back to the beholder, drawing us into a time now long past.
One last stop by the Post Office before we leave to see if any news from the family awaits us. Standing here, taking it all in, you can almost hear the rustles of the elegant dresses and clothes that the ladies of the time were known to wear. As the gentlewomen stand in a circle and talk of the happenings of the town, a whistle blows, signalling our time to leave. It’s been a day full of adventure and discovery, and we really hope you’ve enjoyed sharing in this journey with us as much as we did in bringing it to you.
We’d like to think that this isn’t good-bye to the BC Forest Discovery Centre for us, but rather just a short break until our next visit where we can showcase the fabulous collection of artifacts and antiques on display. In the meantime, please feel free to peruse the previous posts from here featured in our series “The Toad’s Tonka Toys“.
Well, everyone, let’s hop aboard and make our way out of town, shall we?
Many thanks for joining us today on our final installment of our long-running series. It’s been a real joy for us in being able to share this grand adventure with you, and we really hope you will leave us any comments you may have as we always love to hear from all our visitors!