SOUTH DUNDAS – Sixteen years ago the community was celebrating its success in saving an historic train and keeping it in its longtime location along County Road 2 next to Crysler Park Marina.
During the 2003 celebration ceremony Glen Cunningham, a key leader in the Save the Train effort, said: “We saved it, maybe only temporarily. Now it is up the next generation to make sure it stays here.”
And now, it might be the next generation’s turn.
In response to an inquiry from The Leader about the future of the train, Geoff Waycik, director of historic sites for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission said: “SLPC is considering the future of the train which may include some form of disposition.”
“We are undertaking this activity in a thoughtful and considerate way,” he said.
He expects further details will be made available in the coming weeks.
He did say that: “the only item that is being discussed is the train (engine and two cars) and will not impact the Aultsville Train Station or the railway track.”
“The Aultsville Train Station is an original building from the Lost Village of Aultsville and the track in front of the train station is the only remaining section from the old branch of the Grand Trunk Railway that once connected the Lost Villages prior to the Seaway Project flooding.”
In 1999 the SLPC had an agreement with the Prince Edward County Railway Preservation Society that would have seen Locomotive 1008 and its two cars leave this area and be taken to Trenton.
South Dundas’ mayor at the time Johnny Whitteker asked for a moratorium on the decision to allow time for the formation of a committee to undertake an effort to save the train and keep it in its present location.
The train was originally donated by Canadian National Railways to the SLPC.
The engine was built in Kingston in 1910 at Canadian Locomotive Company Works for the Grand Trunk Railroad and operated on the Moccasin local between Brockville and Cornwall up until the time of the Seaway project. The cars are a 1901 passenger coach which was built in Montreal and a 1920 postal-baggage car.
The train sits on a section of the original Grand Trunk Railway track that was left in place at the time of the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Once a committee of interested individuals was formed, in about 2000, the train and the Aultsville Train Station underwent a massive restoration project under the direction of the Save the Train Committee and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
The Aultsville Train Station was constructed in 1889 for the Grand Trunk Railway Company. Originally located in the lost village of Aultsville, it was donated to the St. Lawrence Parks Commission at the time of the Seaway and relocated to its current site.
Volunteers raised thousands of dollars in the effort and worked for two summers on the project which involved moving the train to repair the track, the re-framing of the coach and baggage cars, the installation of new windows in the coach, repairs to the ramp and station and a new coat of paint.
In 2003, South Dundas’ Heritage coordinator was Kirsten Gardner who was involved with the effort and physically worked on the project alongside a number of volunteers. At the time she said, “I hope it will always be here.”