I never expected this project to take such a dark turn overall. This project grew out of a larger project about the forces that drove the Canadian Confederation and is one of two such ‘short history’ projects. I have now realised that there is no such thing as a brief history. History is a messy business, no matter how much you might want to think otherwise. My ancestors were not part of Canada’s colonial history as someone of Dutch descent. I cannot deny that my ancestors were colonials all the same but in a different part of the world. As colonials, we have two choices;Read More →

Sitting north of the downtown, surrounded by tall towers and more restaurants than you can shake a stick at, the former London Richmond Street Station is far worse for wear out of all the stations I have visited throughout this project. While most stations I’ve featured are in good condition, well-maintained, and protected, none can be said for this one. The first three railways to arrive in London came in the 1850s, with Great Western Railway driving their mainline through the small city with Grand Trunk coming in from St. Mary’s. And in 1856, London and Port Stanley arrived in the city. When the CreditRead More →

At first glance, you’ll be confused at the placement of the former Petrolia Grand Trunk station. And honestly, I thought that the trains ran parallel to the downtown behind the streets. Or that the station itself had been moved. Neither of these is true, as the station remains in its original location! The trains arrived at the station’s rear and the line terminated at Petrolia. Petrolia had never been part of the original expansion to Sarnia by both Great Western Railway and Grand Trunk Railway during their construction in 1857. Despite the oil boom in the region continued to grow and attract more and moreRead More →

Like many still active historic railway stations, the Sarnia VIA station is lonely. The station, located far outside the downtown, is among the industrial wastes of the oil industry. Yet this station stands out, being a surviving Hobson Station and directly linked with Canada’s first underwater railway tunnel as it once bore that name proudly as Sarnia Tunnel. Since the earliest days of building railroads through Upper Canada (Ontario), Sarnia began petitioning for a railway charter. The community even paid out of pocket in 1836 to have Captain Richard Vidal go to York (Toronto), no small feat, to speak directly to the Colonial Parliament. TheRead More →

When it comes to locomotives and locomotive production in Canada, the history is long and varied. But for the city of Kingston, the manufacture of locomotives started at the start of the railroad age for Ontario, and the former Canadian Pacific locomotive 1095 is a reminder of the city’s industrial heritage. I will note that the locomotive has been named “Spirit of Sir John A” after Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, about his push to have the Canadian Pacific Railway and its transcontinental line completed in 1886. However, Sir John A MacDonald and his Government, along with future Canadian Governments, also pushedRead More →

Kingston’s tourist information centre is among the many former railway stations that have found a second life in Ontario. But it does seem a bit out of place in the downtown across from City Hall. This beautiful example of a Second Empire-styled station is no longer surrounded by the rails that once dominated the lakeshore area of Kingston. But the once industrial shorefront is now a beautifully restored section and is only complimented by the former inner station of the Kingston & Pembroke Railway. The Kingston & Pembroke Railway is not widely known outside of the Kingston area, initially chartered in 1871 to expand timberRead More →

The former Grand Trunk station at Belleville is unique among the surviving Grand Trunk stations along the operator’s original ‘trunk’ line. Unique in the way that it has its second-empire mansard roof intact. The only other station that can claim that is Kingston Station, which sadly today lies in ruins. Another interesting feature of the station is that it never had a telegraph bay added in the 1880s, a feature shared with the St. Mary’s Junction Station. During its original trans-colonial line, Grand Trunk Railway decided to put its first divisional point at Belleville, a small community between Toronto and Montreal. They acquired a largeRead More →

Sitting below the main downtown, the unassuming limestone structure is one of only two surviving railway structures from what was once a bustling centre of rail activity throughout the latter half of the 19th century. It is also interesting that it is the oldest continuously operated railway station in all of Ontario. Creating a standard set of stations set Grand Trunk apart from the other three railway operators in the first railway boom in Ontario. Chief Architect Francis Thompson latched onto the fundamental design ethos of British railway or wayside stations and laid out three different wayside stations, class A, which featured seven openings; classRead More →

When I was initially planning out the project, I had not considered the Brantford VIA station. I did think of the old Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo stations, but after finding that one station had been demolished, I decided not to tempt fate and took Brantford off the map. At least until I discovered that the station inspired the construction of Guelph’s central station and marked a significant departure in the early 20th Century construction of Grand Trunk Stations. The city of Brantford refuses to pay the required bonus to have the Great Western line and a station in the town. Instead, Great Western ran furtherRead More →

If you look up the definition of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne, you will probably see a photo of the Hamilton GO Centre. Clean lines, steel and limestone, glass, and a typeface speak to the future view of the 1930s. The GO Centre is the station that inspired my love of art deco and the look and feels of the graphics for this project, especially the font choice. For almost the entire time that the city of Hamilton has had rail service, most services were outside the city’s downtown core. First with the Great Western Railway and then later Grand Trunk. Despite being the biggestRead More →