Picturing the Past
 

A Train Journey through the Ottawa Valley Using the Mattingly Image Collection

Introduction

Aubrey Mattingly was a keen observer of the railway scene, particularly in the Ottawa Valley. He took photographs from 1929, when he was in his late teens, until 1981, when he was in his seventies, and his collection of over 8 000 images documents the significant changes that took place during that time, not only in railway technology but also in the scope of railway operations as a result of the development of the highway network and the personal automobile. Most of the images are black and white and a large proportion he photographed himself, while a large number of images were acquired by purchase or trade with other photographers.

 

Mattingly was born into a railway family. His father worked for forty years on the Canadian Pacific Railway on the track maintenance gangs. Mattingly’s main interest was the locomotives, particularly steam, and a large part of his collection consists of photographs of locomotives. However, he did take time to record entire trains as well as the many other aspects of railways, such as the stations, water tanks and bridges. Most of his work is in black and white although he did ultimately venture into colour photography.

 

In later years Mattingly was an active member of the Bytown Railway Society, an organization in Ottawa that caters to those with an interest in railways. He wrote a number of articles of local railway interest for the Society and also participated in the Society’s annual slide competitions. He died on 9 November 1983 at the age of seventy-two.

 

To take advantage of the rich imagery contained in Mattingly’s collection, we would like to take you on an imagined round trip train journey up and down the Ottawa Valley. We will travel from Ottawa on the Canadian Pacific Railway through the valley towns to Pembroke, then transfer to Canadian National Railways for the return trip back to Ottawa, including a portion along the branch line to Golden Lake. Unfortunately, to do this trip today would not be possible — in Ottawa, the Canadian Pacific route is now used for the OC Transpo Transitway, a rapid transitroadway constructed exclusively for buses, while the Canadian National route is now used for the urban expressway known as the “Queensway,” an eight-lane divided highway that cuts east-west across the city.

 

This journey will illustrate the scene during the “late steam railway era,” the period when the steam locomotive was the main form of railway motive power - from about 1930 until 1960. In some instances, the available photographs do not match the historic time period of our journey, however, we have still included them as they provide valuable insight into other periods of Ottawa Valley railway history.




Credits