“Susan Push”

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While driving to The North Shore Train Show last Friday, I decided to stop in at the eastern Ontario lake-front town of Gananoque to grab a few photos of “Susan Push”.

This unique locomotive was primary power for the Thousand Islands Railway – built to connect the Montreal-Toronto mainline to the town of Gananoque. It eventually became a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railways system, which is clearly evident from the “angled wafer” logo on the cab side:

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(Click on the wafer to read more about the TIR, on my “Achievable Layouts” blog)

“Susan Push” is on display in downtown Gananoque – on the location of the TIR’s long-gone main track through town, if I recall correctly. A shelter for passengers awaiting the train stands nearby, and would make a lovely scratch-building project – or laser-cut wooden kit!

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I won’t provide a complete history of the locomotive, since the Gananoque Historical Society has done a wonderful job of that – adding a plaque to the locomotive, as shown here:

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I will note, however, that the locomotive rides on interurban-style trucks:

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(A model could use trucks from Q Car Company (O scale) or side frames from William Flatt (S scale) mounted to Black Beetle drives. Google any of these terms for more info)

What’s most remarkable about this display is how accessible it is. The locomotive is not behind a fence, making it possible to get good photographs or even measurements if one was interested in building a model (and anybody wishing to do so should check out the May 1997 issue of Model Railroader magazine for an article on doing this in HO scale).

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Some day, I hope to go back to Gananoque and spend a day photographing and measuring details on this locomotive. I’d love to do a model in S or O. But for now, it was a nice detour on my trip to the train show in Laval. More on that in a future post…

10 thoughts on ““Susan Push”

  1. Great update on the line. It’s been a very long time since the last time I was “trackside” to check in. The engine itself was rebuilt from a former electric steeplecab (I think from the Oshawa Railway) hence the traction parts. It sure is a sharp engine and would be a charming centrepiece on layout.

  2. Great post, Trevor. This short line would certainly make a fine layout, too. Did you have a chance to cross the street and sample some of the fine beers from the Ganonoque Brewing Company? They finally opened their facilities this past summer.

    Always enjoy your blog.

    Michael Pasch

  3. Trevor, nice pix of TI 500 for my file. Jackie McNeil, the author of the MR article sold etchings in, at least, HO and O scale. I purchased the O scale etchings for a future P48 model some years after the MR issue was published. Perhaps, S scale etchingwere, or could be made, available. Worth a try for S Scalers.
    Bill Bear

  4. I was glad to see the photos of the “Susie Push”. A history of the Thousand Islands Railway has been written by Douglas N.W. Smith, writer/publisher of the Trackside Canada series of publications documenting railway history in Canada and a now retired passenger train economist with the Government of Canada. Somewhere in my collection, I have a copy of Smith’s book. When passenger service ended on the T.I.R.R. in 1962, the last run featured a CN MLW switcher pulling a heavy weight combine, right out of the Port Rowan line. The unit was either an S-2 or S-4, I will have to hunt down the book as it contains a photo of the last run – the combine was jammed with folks saying farewell. Not sure what the operating pro-forma was after that but eventually the line was served by a wayfreight/switcher out of Kingston. The T.I.R.R. would make a great shelf layout for someone looking at simplicity, the track knifed its way through downtown Ganonque and there was a 2-stall enginehouse on the waterfront in addition to a milk plant and similar industries of the era. For a brief time, the line ran a spur east and over the mouth of Gananoque River, featuring a hand-operated swing bridge. The unit needs a little T.L.C., judging by the look of things, I hope that the town paints her up similar to the adjacent umbrella shelter. On your trip, did you also stop in Kingston to see ex-CP 4-6-0 No. 1095?

  5. Back when you originally posted this article, I spoke about the last run of a passenger train on the Thousand Islands Railway in Gananoque. The last run took place on January 15, 1962. Motive Power was Canadian National S-3 No. 8494. A heavy weight combine was the sole car in the consist, unfortunately, available photos do mention the number of the combine.

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