Production of next-generation Acela Express fleet underway
Stadler unveils TEX Rail Flirt DMU
Siemens invests in remote monitoring specialist Wi-Tronix
DB consortium selected for California high speed rail
Judge puts the skids on state’s proposed rail trail
Amtrak's CEO shares his vision for rail's future
Flight Rail: a new type of train?
America’s short lines play the long game
New York rail operator bolsters security after London bombing
A hundred years ago, when the Grand Trunk Railway in Burlington was a transportation powerhouse in the area, the trains moved and the stations stayed put. As stations are supposed to do.
Now, it seems, the trains are still and the stations go. The old locomotives that barrelled along the tracks, speeding produce and livestock to and from market, are gone, mothballed or frozen in place as exhibits, the great age of rail having passed. But the Grand Trunk Burlington Junction Station, often called Freeman Station ... why, it seems it just won't remain, well, stationary.
It should look itself up in the dictionary. A "station" is supposed to be fixed in one spot. Meh, who uses a dictionary anymore?
Whatever the case, Freeman Station is thriving again, several hundred metres from where it used to be. What, did it grow legs?
Yes, in a way. And those legs are Ron Danielson, John Mellow (who worked his career in a dispatch station), Brian Aasgaard and others, Friends of the Freeman Station; also councillor Blair Lancaster and current Burlington Mayor Marianne Mead Ward, who believed in the project.
If it hadn't moved, Freeman Station would've been reduced to splinters. Its original location, now along Burlington's GO/ CN corridor, was needed for track expansion.
Actually, Freeman Station was supposed to be even more mobile than it has been; it was to have been transplanted again from where it is now, by the fire station on Fairview, to a moving target of possible ultimate destinations, from the beach strip and Central Park to Spencer Smith Park.
In any event it's perfect where it is. It's been meticulously restored to its initial handsomeness and charm. The Friends of Freeman Station have brought up much original wood, on the ceiling, for instance; put in a new roof, new floor; recovered the attractive oval window; made structural repairs, shoring up foundation, which is now permanent, concrete and stabilized.
The rooms, like the station master's office, have been reframed. All the windows refurbished.
And the place is outfitted with authentic dioramas, info plaques and period appurtenances — ticket grille (1870); old accordion phone and headset; semaphore signals; lanterns and signage; Morse code equipment; big hoops used by station staff to pass orders to train staff, leaning out of windows on moving trains, to receive them.
"It's going to be a museum to the railways and their huge influence on the development of Burlington," says Ron Danielson. "What we're doing is getting all the stories while people are still around who can remember."
In 1906, when the station originally went up, Burlington was rural. Freeman, a tiny hamlet, was a separate community. But they and the Grand Trunk were fundamental to the agricultural supply chain that made the Golden Horseshoe the "Garden of Canada."
So the station is a landmark. But its salvation almost didn't happen.
In 2005, the station, after being donated to the City of Burlington by the railway, had to be moved, to the Fairview location, supposedly "temporary." It was carefully raised on to a truck, but once deposited where it is now, the station was left in limbo. One location after another was proposed, Ron explains to me. But every successive proposal produced its own disqualifying problem, until, with efforts thwarted every turn, it truly looked as though the building would be demolished.
That's when the management of the property was transferred from City to a group of community volunteers; the Friends. But there was so much work to do, money to raise. And, still, location to worry about ... until the land it was on, by the fire department but owned by Ashland chemicals, was leased to Friends by the chemical company ... $1 a year. The station could stay.
All obstacles finally overcome (also largely thanks to donors like Ontario Trillium, the Retired Teachers' Association, the Freeman family, Burlington Historical Society, Ashland and others), the reconstituted station, is almost ready for unveiling. It had a ribbon-cutting in 2017, but only this spring will it open to the public in earnest, and only partially at first. There's still work going on.
But, to trade on a railway trope, they're almost out of the tunnel and there's a bright light at the end of it guiding the journey forward. That light is the future — the future of Burlington's history. And The Friends couldn't be more excited about it.
For more, http://www.freemanstation.ca.
This article first appeared on www.thespec.com
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2019 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.