Jim Shaughnessy and Canadian Railroad Photography


 (Canadian National, Sherbrooke, Quebec –1957)

Although during most of my childhood my family lived closed to various railway lines, I was born too late to regularly experience the thrill of hulking steam-powered trains pull into nearby stations.  On those rare occasions as a child that I encountered one of these mechanical monsters chugging through a rail crossing the feeling that gripped me was one of utter awe.  While the era of steam locomotives is now a fading memory, my wife recently surprised me with a gift of The Call of Trains:  Railroad Photography of Jim Shaughnessy (edited and with text by Jeff Brouws).

As a serious amateur photographer, I appreciate the artful composition of Shaughnessy’s exquisite black-and-white images.  He was a pioneer of railroad photography and his career extended over half a century, with many of the strongest images from his extensive work being from the 1950s and 1960s.  Because he lived most of his life in upstate New York, Shaughnessy was able easily to make periodic sojourns through Quebec, Ontario and other parts of Canada to capture amazing images of both the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National rail lines.   Underscoring this is that over a fifth of the images in the The Call of Trains are of Canadian railway scenes.   Below is a sampling of some of the wonderful images that may be found in the book.

      (Canadian Pacific, Spadina Avenue Facility, Toronto –1957)

 (Canadian Pacific, Cookshire, Quebec –1956)

(Canadian Pacific, Double-Headed Steam Locomotives and Freight Train, Lennoxville, Quebec –1954)

Link to The Call of Trains:  Railroad Photographs by Jim Shaughnessy on Publisher’s Website:   http://books.wwnorton.com/books/978-0-393-06592-3/

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Artist to Appreciate: Louis Helbig « O' Canada

  2. This post was exciting for me because my husband and I love the railway history. My dad grew up very near Lennoxville and Sherbrooke in a tiny hamlet named Minton. We’re from B.C. where the Kettle Valley Railway runs off the CPR. My husband’s grandfather came from Sweden to work on that line in 1911. We even have a census record for him at Kettle River. He was living in a camp for the railroad workers. We never knew this until we started doing our genealogy research and were surprised to find this as my husband has always had a fascination with the KVR. There’s a restaurant in my hometown, Summerland B.C., named Shaughnessy’s Cove. I wonder if they named it after this Shaughnessy. Thank you for this post!

    • That’s a neat connection to the railway! Shaughnessy had a terrific ability to capture images that bring to life the railroads and the people connected with them.

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