This is a page to salute members who have contributed significantly to the success of the society.

Bert CanningBert Canning, long-time CP engineer out of Ottawa, passes on at age 87 on August 1st, 2012. As per Colin Churcher, Bert was one of the "stalwart engineers" of CP 1201 trips to Wakefield, Quebec.

Photo courtesy of Colin Churcher.

CANNING, Bertram Thomas

Peacefully on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at age 87. Beloved husband of Corrine Selleck Canning (nee Drummond), and predeceased by his first wife Berdetta Canning (nee Selleck). Loving stepfather of Harry Selleck (Lori) and Lorie Pitt (Ritchie) and their children Brandon, Colton, Ashton, Joshua and Jarrett. Predeceased by sisters Phyllis Grant (Ray) and Sylvia Kenney (Hillard) and by brother Cecil (Alma). Bert will be lovingly remembered by many nieces and nephews. Friends are invited to visit at the Brown Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 805 Prescott Street, Kemptville on Monday, August 6 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral Service in the Chapel on Tuesday at 11 a.m. Contributions to the Heckston United Church or the Kemptville District Hospital Foundation.

Published in The Ottawa Citizen on Aug. 4, 2012.


Bert Canning

My good friend Dennis Peters died on 14 April after a very short bout of cancer. He was in his 69th year.

Many years ago Dennis said to me, “I fly under the radar.” By flying under the radar, few realized the full extent of Dennis’ activities in the Ottawa and national railfan community. However, he was a force to be reckoned with and was involved in many activities. He grew up in Lowertown and experienced the changeover from steam to diesel. He was a founding member of the Bytown Railway Society and, even before that, was involved in the unsuccessful attempt to save the Grand Trunk Railway station on Lebreton Flats. But Dennis’ railway enthusiasm was firmly founded from being employed by Canadian Pacific as a brakeman in this area working at both Ottawa West and later at Walkley Yard. Later he was with Omer Lavallee in CP Bygones before moving to Ottawa with Parks Canada and Canadian Heritage.

Dennis enjoyed rail travel both in Canada and elsewhere. We had a great trip to Moosonee and explored a little of the Ottawa Valley.

Dennis’ collection of employee timetables, railway plans and other memorabilia is legendary and he was quick to share this, especially as a member of the Ottawa Railway History Circle. After retirement he became involved with the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library and had just become President. With the recent changes to the publication of Branchline Dennis had become one of the editors where he was able to exercise one of his many skills – the art of writing good English.

I wrote above that Dennis was a good friend. He was more than a friend. He was a mentor. He was my idea of a true senator. Ask him a question and he would respond thoughtfully, not necessarily with the answer you were looking for but with sober second thought.

Dennis Peters’ knowledge and experience is irreplaceable and his passing has left a great gap. He will be missed. - Colin Churcher

PETERS, Dennis James

Parks Canada / Canadian Heritage

Peacefully at home in Ottawa on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in his 69th year, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. Beloved son of the late Joseph John Peters and Annette Marguerite Benoit and husband of the late Dawn Carol Walker. He will be sadly missed by his children, Shannon Peters, Christine Peters (Steve Montroy), Jacqueline Peters (Julie Barton), Tara Nye (Wise), Lisa (Nye) Labonté; Christine Nye (Corey Mask), and Rebecca Hammond; their grandchildren, Thomas-Joseph, Teagan, Peter, Brienna, Owen, Nathan, Émilie, Connor, Téah and Ben. Dennis will also be missed by his many friends and work colleagues at Parks Canada, Canadian Heritage and the Canada 150 team. His greatest passions were his gift for putting thought to paper as well as an extensive interest in all things railway related, including travel, history and operations. Friends are invited to visit at the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 315 McLeod Street (at O'Connor)F on Wednesday, April 20 from 1:30 p.m. until Dennis' Celebration of Life in the Chapel at 3 p.m. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Ronald McDonald House of Ottawa, in memory of Dennis Peters. 

Published in The Gazette from Apr. 16 to Apr. 18, 2016




Helen at Lemon Creek Bridge in BC. Photo of Helen Tucker at Lemon Creek Bridge in BC courtesy of Doug Wilson.

The following memorial  appeared in the April 1993 issue of Branchline.

In Memoriam. Helen Grace Tucker, P.Eng. (BRS Director)

"It is with the greatest regret that we inform the membership of the untimely death of Helen Tucker on February 12, 1993, after a lengthy and horrible battle with cancer.

Helen was an active member of the Society who will be sorely missed. Her work in an organizational role at the shop will be remembered for she, as a professional engineer, was organized, methodical and analytical, as well as practical.  She will remembered for her equipment drawings and sketches and her accurate estimates of the material required fro complete a job.  She will be remembered for her sense of humour, and her ability to exchange quip for quip with the best of us.  Her absolutely filthy coveralls, which the guys threatened to steam clean, with Helen in them of course, are legend.  She will be remembered for her procurement of tools and equipment with diligently collected Canadian Tire coupons.

Helen's ability to become "one of the boys" on our famous trip with steam locomotive 1201 from Ottawa to Saint John, N.B. in June 1989 will long be remembered by the other nine of us who were honoured to have her as a fellow crew member. She was a real hit with the CP and Canadian Atlantic Railway officials and crews alike who were taken back at BRS's lady "fireperson" in the cab of 1201, and in CP's and CAR's bunk houses.

At age 49, Helen has been taken away from us. She may gone she'll not be forgotten." (Duncan du Fresne).

Helen was the Dirty Hands Club Founder and also held the Secretary position on the Society's board.

Helen's professional career was as an Engineer with the Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

At the NRC, Helen was a co-inventor of a Valve, a Flowmeter and a Viscometer. Below is a listing of the three patents she held with her colleagues.

Helen worked in diverse areas as Maglev systems, control systems for dynamometers, wheelchair stability experiments, and a major wheel and brake testing facility. (reference: Branchline July-August 1987)

Patents held by Helen G. Tucker
Number   Title/Abstract
US3952577   Apparatus for measuring the flow rate and/or viscous characteristics of fluids Helen G. Tucker, John W. Tanney, William F. Hayes. An apparatus for measuring the flow rate and/or viscous characteristics of a fluid comprising a casing having a fluid passage, a fluid inlet cavity and a fluid outlet cavity, fluid pressure detecting means preferably at spaced positions along the passage, and fluid pressure indicating means for indicating the or each characteristic to be measured....  
US4003405   Apparatus for regulating the flow rate of a fluid William F. Hayes, John W. Tanney, Helen G. Tucker An apparatus for regulating the flow rate of a fluid, comprising a casing having an annular or cone-shaped fluid passage, for radial flow (inwardly or outwardly) between an inlet and outlet which are spaced radially and form unobstructed flow paths....
US4118973   Apparatus for measuring the flow rate and/or viscosity of a fluid Helen G. Tucker, John W. Tanney, William F. Hayes. An apparatus for measuring the flow rate and/or viscous characteristics of a fluid comprises a casing, having a fluid passage which is elongated in cross-section with two parallel, opposed sides and has a flared entry portion leading to a portion of constant cross-section....

Joe Toscas. Photo by Ross Robinson

Joe sitting in the Fireman's seat of TNVR #10 50 ton locomotive in 2002 Joe was BRS' speeder Guru.

Photo courtesy of R. Robinson

TOSCAS, Joseph "Joe"

Courageously at the Hospice at May Court on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 at the age of 78. Dearly beloved husband of the late Elena Conesa. Loving father of Tony and Louise Brunel (Nestor). Also loved by his two grandchildren Virginia Diaz and Edgardo Brunel. The funeral mass was held at Senhor Santo Cristo Roman Catholic Church, 1100 Kenaston Street, Ottawa on Friday, May 7, 2004 at 11 a.m. Interment Beechwood Cemetery. 

Published in The Ottawa Citizen on May 5, 2004

Duncan du FresneOne of BRS' founding members, Duncan du Fresne was a renowned and much sought after railway historian. Dunc was an author and speaker on the days of steam on the railways, particularly Canadian Pacific where he worked as a locomotive fireman until 1957.

Dunc wrote two books for the Society (Snow Plow Extra and When Steam and Steel Get in Your Blood) and for many years wrote a monthly column, "Tidbits", for the Society's magazine, Branchline. Also a retired air traffic controller, Dunc personified everything transportation. When not restoring and running steam locomotives at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Duncan spent many hours cruising down the Rideau Canal system on his pride and joy, the "Channel Island," a 36-foot cruiser he built himself.

du FRESNE, Duncan Henry

Peacefully in hospital with family by his side on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, aged 82 years. Loving and cherished husband of 59 beautiful years to Joyce (nee Bennett). Dear Father of Bruce (Jacqueline) of Colorado Springs, CO, Valerie Beebe (Ross) of Chilliwack, BC and Laurie Chatigny (Paul) of Ottawa. Adoring Grandpa to Samantha, Andrea, Clare and Bennett, and three "granddogs", Deuce, Auggie and Teddy. A renowned and much sought after railway historian, author and founding member of the Bytown Railway Society in Ottawa. Also a retired air traffic controller, Duncan personified everything transportation. When not restoring and running steam locomotives at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Duncan spent many hours cruising down the Rideau Canal system on his pride and joy, the "Channel Island," a 36-foot cruiser he built himself. Duncan will be deeply missed by his family and friends. Many thanks to the ICU staff at the Ottawa Hospital (General Campus) for their excellent care and compassion. Friends may call at the Westboro Chapel of Tubman Funeral Homes 403 Richmond Road at Roosevelt on Monday, June 18 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A memorial service will be held at St. Matthew's Anglican Church, Glebe Ave. near Bank St., on Tuesday, June 19 at 11 a.m. Donations to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation - Intensive Care or Nephrology Unit (General Campus) would be appreciated. 

Tributes, condolences or donations may be made at 

Published in The Ottawa Citizen on June 16, 2012