The Backstory Behind This Photojournal
My grandfather took a leap of faith when immigrating to Canada in the late 1950s, amongst thousands of other Azoreans seeking a better life. He was quick to find work laying down railroads just outside of Edmonton, and his years of experience eventually resulting in him passing down a piece of his labour to me.
From the moment I was born, I was inundated. I received small trains, built fake tracks, and played ‘railroad crossing games’ with my grandfather on a regular basis. My parents could have left me in a toy store while they ran errands – I would spend hours with their massive train set.
I was seven years old when my grandfather passed away. Shortly thereafter, my obsession came to an end. The trains, tracks, and associated toys were all stashed in the closet, left to accumulate dust. I had completely grown out of this ‘phase’ of my life – for now.
I spent five years studying at the University of Western Ontario, located in London (ON), Canada. Two of those years were spent living downtown. Those of you familiar with the city will also be familiar with the rumble of freight trains as they barrel straight through the core, at all hours of the day. The entire infrastructure of the city struck a chord with me – pedestrians regularly stood only a few feet away from these monstrous machines as they held up traffic for 10-15 minutes, and simultaneously blocked 5-7 major intersections.
While sitting on a bench next to the Souvlaki shop on Richmond Street, I spotted The Keg on the opposite side. It took me a few minutes, but I suddenly realized that this building was once a train station, and presumably a hub for all train activity. Inspired, I ventured out to all corners of London, capturing the paths that trains take during their journey through the city.
While trains and railroads are undoubtedly a cliche for photographers, I hope my backstory helps you to understand the choice of subject and why I found it so personally impactful to produce this album. Enjoy!
This album assumes that the trains are moving from west to east. There are two sets of tracks which split apart as they enter the city, as depicted in the map below.