The first time I drove past the old Havelock station, I was more interested in a pair of old Angus Van Cabooses, one in good condition sitting proudly next to Highway 7, the other looking worse for wear back in the rail yard. I got a couple of shots of those and one of the old stations. But at that time, I did not know the rich heritage of the area and its relation to the station. In the early 20th Century, Canadian Pacific began expanding their steamship operations on the Upper Great Lakes. Their main port at Owen Sound proved too small for theRead More →

The railway operator Ontario & Quebec did not last long as an independent operator, having spent much of its life under the ownership of Canadian Pacific and as a line leased to Canadian Pacific. Finding any station credited to the operator is rare, but one is sitting outside downtown Peterborough. Initially chartered in 1871, Ontario & Quebec’s plan to build a rail line between Ottawa and Toronto with stops in Carlton Place, Madoc, Peterborough, and Toronto ended up derailing in the Financial Panic of 1873. While the charter lapsed, it did not disappear entirely, and in 1881, investors in Canadian Pacific took over the charterRead More →

The longest motive power for railway has been steam; since those early days, steam-powered locomotives carried people and freight worldwide. And sure, by the late 19th and early 20th Century, electricity became a popular choice for inter-urban railways. But on the mainlines, steam was king, and the last locomotives produced in the 20th Century could travel long distances and high speeds; I’m talking, of course, of the Northern’s, Pacific’s, and even larger engines. But these had one weakness, you needed a large crew to run them, two at the minimum, and they needed a lot of maintenance. Plus, they were loud, dirty, and took upRead More →

At first glance, the old Don Station at Roundhouse part appears custom-built for the miniature railway, a popular attraction to visitors at the park and the Railway Museum. But when you get closer, you realise that it is indeed a full-sized station with a special place in the history of the Canadian Pacific in Toronto. When the Ontario & Quebec Railway line from Perth to Toronto finished construction in 1884, access to the city proved limited. Trains arriving from points east or heading east out of the city had to travel a roundabout route. Travelling across the northern border of the station, they approached throughRead More →

While attending the local Toronto Urban Exploration Meetups, the biggest question in conversation was where we wanted to visit? In those days, the UE community was tight-knit and often secretive, and things like Instagram were still new and not so much in the public eye. During one cold January event, we ended up in Leaside to check out a warehouse from Winpack. I quickly discovered through my work that we were not in a warehouse but rather a significant historical building that maintained locomotives, not storing paper products. The Canadian Northern Railway grew out of a small collection of defunct railways in Manitoba to extendRead More →

If you have ever walked north on Yonge Street, you will probably notice a tall clock tower next to a rail overpass that looks straight out of Italy. While it has spent more time selling alcohol than train tickets, Toronto North remains a station that genuinely shows the grandeur of rail travel during the golden age. Canadian Pacific gained a foothold into the city of Toronto through two means, on the western approach through the Credit Valley Railway and from the North-East by way of the Ontario & Quebec Railway and the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway. Ontario & Quebec was revived in 1881 throughRead More →

Last week I alluded to the rail lands in Toronto; these lands dominated the space between the lake and Union Station on Front Street. These lands grew up through the late 1850s as the anchor point to major and minor operators. Space was used to marshall, maintain, and store rolling stock fleets. And one of the most prominent buildings in these yards was the roundhouse. The idea of the roundhouse as a means to store and maintain locomotives is credited to Robert Stephenson. He designed the structure and used one with the London & Manchester Railway. While that roundhouse is long gone, the world’s oldestRead More →

And perhaps the most incredible reminder of the grandeur of rail travel during the golden age of rail in Canada. If you have ever travelled by rail into, out of or through Toronto, you have more than likely passed through Toronto’s Union Station. While the railways that operate out of Union Station have changed since its inception, it remains a proper Union station with five railways continuing to call at the city. But the station we have today is the third Union Station in Toronto. But its location has been connected to the railway since the first years of the railroad in Ontario. The stripRead More →

I have encountered certain subjects that have proven challenging to find a clear history throughout this project. Then there’s the London & Port Stanley Railroad Port Stanley Station, which has little information online about the history of the building. In contrast, there is plenty of history about the railway but little about the Port Stanley station. I would not be surprised if you have not heard of the London & Port Stanley Railway. The railway was among the first railways to form in the first railway boom of the 1850s. But it never had any significant publicity because it only ran from London to PortRead More →

While most people who visit St. Thomas will be immediately drawn to the beautiful Italianate station, it certainly gave the Canadian Southern Railway a strong presence in the community. As part of the deal with the town, Canadian Southern secured a 310-acre site which a single station did not need. Most of the site would become home to the only maintenance yard on the CASO network, and steam locomotives required far more maintenance than diesel-electric. Construction of the yards began in 1871 with construction on the mainline. While most of the yard would be filled with a vast maze of tracks for storing, staging, andRead More →