My fallen flag?

January 25, 2020


Prototype modelling in Quebec City in 2013. I prefer a 1:1 scale railroad.

I’ve never written about WHY I chose to model the Quebec Gatineau Railway. Until now.

Wayyy back in 2012/2013 when I was contemplating building a model railroad I was the Toronto sales guy for Canadian recycled paper manufacturer Cascades. Cascades owned the Rolland Paper Mill in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec (just a 45 minute drive north of Montreal). The Mill built in 1882, was one of Canada’s oldest Mills and was rail-served by the QGRY. 


Rolland Paper Mill in 1957. That’s a lot of boxcars!

Since I did not grow up near the tracks and have little to no recollections of being trackside as a kid, I wasn’t able to draw on the fond memories that so many of today’s modellers have of their childhood. ‘Model what you’ know is a common refrain. I didn’t know much.


Memories of the 70s.

I don’t really remember too much about it, but I did have a 4 x 6 model railroad that my Dad and I built in the mid-1970s when I was around 8 years old. I do remember that the engine was CN and it was probably this set (or very similar), but that’s about it.

So when the time came to pick a prototype, I didn’t have much to drawn upon.

I knew that I wanted to model current day freight operations, with a preference for a short-line. There was something prototypical about short trains with a nice mix of different types of freight cars that I felt that I could reproduce.

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Why the QGRY? Honestly, I liked the orange and black paint scheme. I also liked that it would be a bit unique, not something that everyone else was doing.

The fact that I could railfan the line from Montreal to Quebec City was also a bonus. This was just far enough away to be exciting (and not mundane) but also easily accessible via a fun roadtrip. My wife and I visited this portion of the Country often for fun, and I travelled here on business.


As you can see, it’s pretty easy to accumulate an all orange and black roster.

At the same time, Atlas had produced a couple of QGRY GP40-2 Locomotives in HO scale, 3800 and 3801, so that sealed the deal.

Fun fact, G&W sometimes share power between their shortline Canadian roads, so it’s not uncommon to see other G&W locomotives from GEXR, OVR, HCRY, SOR and even SLQ

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The QGRY, was acquired from Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail, and began operating in November 1997. It has 450km of track from Gatineau to Quebec City along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. QGRY also provides rail services to the the Port of Trois-Rivières.

According to a blog post on by by TrainDuNord » Sun Feb 27, 2011

On September 29, 1997, a deed of sale intervened between Canadian Pacific Lrd (St.Lawrence and Hudson) and Quebec-Gatineau Railway before public notary Lynda Martineau of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I have a copy of the contract in front of me. This sale was for the right of way between Ste.Therese and Gatineau, on the North shore of the Ottawa River. The right of way between St.Martin Junction and Quebec City, however, has never been sold to anybody by Canadian Pacific to this day. Right now, it is still recorded in the Quebec land office (the “Bureau de la Publicite des droits”) as being the sole property of Canadian Pacific Ltd.

151 employees handle some 40,000 carloads of freight per year serving 23 major customers. QGRY also has an automobile compound, a large lumber transfer facility and a bulk handling facility in Québec City to meet the market demand and benefit from available opportunities.


Sure wish I still had this loco in the display cabinet.

One of my first QGRY locomotives (now regrettably sold) was this patched MLW C424 CP 4212 showing the CP patched out and repainted to QG reflecting the CP to QG transition in 1997.

According to a post on December 5th, 2019 from William HBaird the Admin and editor of the excellent Canadian Railway Observations, Canadian Pacific Railway is now “looking” at acquiring back its old route from Montreal to Quebec City (along the north shore through Trois Rivieres), currently operated by (G&W-owned) Quebec-Gatineau Railway. We will have more on this later.”

Wait. What?

Since Brookfield Asset Management (Canada) has now acquired G&W for $8.4-billion, it will be interesting to see what changes are in the works for my QGRY prototype. 

Will the QGRY revert back to CP colours and become a ‘fallen flag’?

Will I need to add a bit more PANTONE 200C ‘CP Red’ to my locomotive roster?

Or will my version of the QGRY become a historic footnote where I’ll be able to draw on fond memories of what was.

Only time will tell.


1 Comment

  1. Bernard Hellen

    its been noted that as CP only considered the potential of acquiring back part of the QGRY line and did not make any offers, I should change the caption to this. “in late-2019, CP looked into the traffic potential of acquiring back the QGRY rail line, but no formal discussions or negotiations were conducted”.


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