It has been long since I smelt the acrid odour of black powder and smoke drifting over the battlefield. But a couple of weekends back I got to attend my first Napoleonic reenactment since the Grand Tactical in 2019. And while the event hosted at Fort George in Niagara-On-The-Lake wasn’t a dedicated 1812 event, there were plenty of units that normally attend 1812 events. But the, Fort George was standing in for a frontier fort on the Spanish peninsula built by the French. While the lines were certainly smaller than what I’m used to at such events, with broad support not only from the pocketRead More →

Doors Open Hamilton has been a long time favourite event since I went to my first event in 2007. It gives a behind-the-door look at many buildings through legal means, which is a huge draw for a group of explorers. One of the biggest draws of that 2007 event is the presence of the HMCS Halifax, one of the Royal Canadian Navy’s frigates and the first ship in the class. We also got glimpses of buildings that were undergoing renovation. It also quickly became a bit of a birthday tradition as it always falls near or sometimes on my birthday. But for the past twoRead More →

Sitting as the main building at the Fort Erie Railway Station, the former station that once served the village of Ridgeway is a prime example of Grand Trunk’s plan to modernise the railway at the start of the 20th Century. It is also interesting that a village as small as Ridgeway would warrant such a large station. The railway first came to Ridgeway thanks to Brantford, Hamilton and the Great Western Railway. As a result, the Buffalo, Brantford & Goderich Railway, which eventually became the Buffalo & Lake Huron Railway despite its financial instability through the first half of the 1850s, finally reached Paris, OntarioRead More →

When it comes to unique station styles in Canada, the one that stands out the most is the Witch’s Hat; these were popular among all significant railway operators through the early 20th Century. Sadly, there is only a handful left standing, but the only one still operates as a train station, which is the station at Uxbridge. The first railway to arrive in Uxbridge was the Toronto & Nipissing Railway. A narrow-gauge line was chartered and supported by George Laidlaw to access the agricultural and timber resources in northern Ontario and access a potential transcontinental railway at Lake Nippissing. The line originating in Cannington startedRead More →

Amazingly, many historic railway stations still exist in Ontario. And while many still operate, some of the oldest stations no longer operate as railway stations and are no longer in their original location. And then there’s the Unionville Station. While it no longer operates as a railway station, it remains in its original location and is only one of two surviving stations from Toronto & Nippissing. Following Confederation, in 1867, a second railway boom was starting. Scottish businessman, George Laidlaw who worked for the Gooderham & Worts distillery in Toronto, began chartering new railways. But unlike most railways in Ontario that stuck to Provincial GaugeRead More →

When it comes to Aurora, Ontario, unless you take public transit regularly, the old train station may not even be in your mind. Even then, you may not realise the importance of this small community regarding the impact the community had on Ontario railway development, as in 1853, it was the first destination for the first steam train in the province. As I spoke of last week, Ontario, Simcoe & Huron faced plenty of problems in getting their line constructed. The biggest problem that came after securing the needed funding came to construction. Starting in October put them already at a disadvantage, running north fromRead More →

It’s hard to believe that a single station would provide the same service for over a century by a decade. But when it comes to the King City train station, that is the absolute truth. While its railway days are over, it is also surprising that the station survived this long in near original condition and without demolition at any point through the three railway operators that used the station. Still, King City survives as the oldest train station in Ontario. It is amazing that a railway even saw completion. The concept of a railway between Toronto and Georgian Bay can trace itself to theRead More →

It’s easy to miss the Freeman Station, tucked in next to a fire station and below a burn. It also seems a bit out of place, with the railroad a good distance from the station proper, almost as if the line itself was moved. But in reality, the station itself has been moved from its original station like so many before. And despite its look, Burlington Junction, as it was officially called, was once a hub of railroad activity in Burlington. During the first railway boom in Ontario, Burlington, as we know it today, did not exist; the modern downtown of Burlington was the villageRead More →

If you haven’t heard of Palmerston, Ontario, that is perfectly understandable. It is a small historic town tucked away in the rural areas of Wellington County. But the town owes its existence in a major form thanks to the railroad and is one of a few communities that can claim that. At the railroad’s height, Palmerston was a major centre for Grand Trunk and later Canadian National during the golden age of rail and also found a place in history as the location of one of Canada’s first vaccine farms because of the railroad. The Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway starts during the waning daysRead More →

The interesting thing about the Guelph Central Station is that I have walked past it many times but have never been drawn to the structure. I’m more likely to walk past it to get a better angle on the armoury or move past towards the old city hall turned courthouse. But Central Station is one of only a few surviving propaganda stations built to instil confidence in the railway operator in the second decade of the new century. Guelph and the railroad share an interesting relationship since the first Grand Trunk Railway line rolled through 1855. Having acquired the Toronto & Guelph Railway, Grand TrunkRead More →