Standing proudly at the edge of Ontario’s west coast, looking out over the beach, is a beautiful brick structure with an oversized patio and plenty of setting room. There’s no disguising that Goderich’s Beach Street Station is a former train station, as shown by the number of railway memorabilia and signage around the station.
When the Guelph & Goderich Railway was completed, it terminated at the Goderich Harbour. The harbour has a long history with the railroad being expanded many times throughout history to accommodate larger lake ships and when Buffalo & Lake Huron showed up in the 1850s rail ferries. But these early railways positioned their stations above the harbour. Canadian Pacific, however, placed their station at the base of the harbour hill below the downtown, allowing Canadian Pacific to build a large rail yard to support the branch line. In addition to the station, a large yard supported a six-bay roundhouse and turntable for locomotive storage, rails to store and move cars and warehouses for freight storage. The line opened to traffic in 1907 and quickly became a popular means to ship freight and for passengers to move with four daily trains running between Guelph and Goderich.
The Goderich Station would be the jewel of the entire branch line. While the Guelph Station had received an update at the beginning of the century, most other stations along the route were simple wooden construction. The station sat on a limestone foundation and lower section, with the upper sections being constructed of red brick. It also featured an asymmetrical footprint with a wide-hipped roof adding a half-storey and a witch’s hat detail above the waiting room. The roof featured cross-gable details with limestone details on the door and window lintels. The interior layout featured a large waiting room with a separate men’s smoking room in the rounded forward section and an agent’s office, including the ticket window and telegraph operator. The rear area contained the baggage room and express office. The interior decor included hardwood floor and high wainscoting, high ceilings with plaster medallion details and art glass window details. Operations continued without any significant change to the station itself, although the passenger service saw a reduction in 1930 to a pair of daily passenger trains. Even these were cut in the 1950s to a couple of mixed trains daily before the service ended in 1961 to Goderich. At this point, the station saw use only for office duties and managing the large rail yard. Although with the end of steam motive power, Canadian Pacific saw fit to demolish the roundhouse. All services ceased in 1988.
Rather than demolish the station, which Canadian Pacific seemed fond of doing, they sold off the station and seven acres of land to the town of Goderich in 1990. The station’s construction and continued use made it a prime building for restoration and adaptive reuse. The Menesetung Bridge Association were the first to take a stab at the restoration project. The group has already completed the restoration and conversion to a walking trail of the Menesetung Bridge, which formed part of the Canadian Pacific Right-Of-Way into Goderich. The Association found that the full interior detail of the passenger spaces remained intact. The floors and wainscoting ceiling details and original features and fixtures. Even the window and door frames were never changed out in the mid-century. Sadly, the station saw work in fits and starts, and while no significant work was completed, some events took place in the old station to help raise funds. It also ensured that the station remained free from potential vandalism into the 21st Century. To further protect the station, the town granted the old station heritage status in 2005. By 2010 the station sat empty as the field that now surrounded it, the rails long removed. Three years later, a private owner expressed interesting in purchasing the old station with a new reuse plan. After completing a new foundation, the station was moved over three days and underwent two years of renovation and restoration. The Beach Street Station opened in 2015 as a waterside gastro pub that provides patrons with excellent lake views and fabulous sunsets but also a taste of the rich railway heritage of Goderich.