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.

Steam Locomotive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

Steam Locomotive – BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

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.

Steam Locomotive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

Steam Locomotive – BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

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.

Steam Locomotive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

Steam Locomotive – BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

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.

Steam Locomotive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

Steam Locomotive – BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

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.

Post Office - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

Post Office – BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

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!




  1. Great post toad,that old loco looks amazing and the post office is fantastic.
    Hope you had a great Christmas and new year brings all you hope.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      We had a terrific holiday, Chris, thank you so much! We really hope the same is true for you, my good friend! Many thanks for your kind visit here, we really do appreciate it!

  2. avatar Tom Tork says:

    the smell of grease and steam in the cold winter air; doesn’t get any better than that. But than again I’m biased. Whats with all the cables above, is it a drag line for the logs?

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Tom, I just LOVE it when you pop by for a visit, it’s always a highlight of my day! I think those cables are actually the power cables for the facility. A couple of these shots are right beside the highway, as people go whizzing past they get to see one of these cool trains. Very difficult to compose a couple of these, actually. I had to crop at least a couple of them to remove extraneous stuff. Thank you SO much for popping by today, it’s been a terrific year for us and one of our favorite highlights is in forming a great friendship with you! Best wished to you, your family, and all those wonderful toys you get to hang out with! 🙂

  3. Nice looking engine!!!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Booya, Derrick, she sure is! Thanks so much for poppin’ on by today, and for leaving us your awesome comments, my friend!

  4. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Terrific post Toad and wonderful images. These old trains are really a thing of beauty. Love the first image.

  5. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Wonderful post Toad!! Beautiful images, my favorite one is the post office! I can just imagine the happenings around it during its hey day! 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks, Rachel! It would had to have been a part of the social fabric of the town that was rising up all around it, no doubt! Thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and see us here today, we sure do appreciate it!

  6. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Love these posts, Toad. They are so much fun to read and experience. Great photos of the old machines of yesteryear.

    As the Toads hop into 2013… Happy New Year, my dear friends. Wishing you & the family all the best!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      And the same to you, my good good friend! 2012 was a terrific year for us and part of it is definitely due to the great friendship we’ve shared with you, Jimi! Thank you for all you do, we sure appreciate it!

  7. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    I fell in love with trains the first time I rode one Toad. I love images of trains and these are stellar my friend. I hope you and Mrs Toad have a great New Year.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That just means so much to us here, Len, thank you my friend! Best wishes to you and your family from us, we’re sending you our very best thoughts!!

  8. avatar LensScaper says:

    Now that’s a real steam engine. Awesome size and sight, Toad. Definitely a Tonka Toy

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Apparently size matters, Andy, especially when it comes to steam locomotives! 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and see us here today, and for leaving these great comments!