Uxbridge Train Station

With the last post regarding the less than tenable position the Allandale Train Station has for restoration / renovation, I had decided to look for a nearby success story. This feel-good storey comes from the efforts by dedicated volunteers at Uxbridge. The Uxbridge Railway Station was built in 1904 and is one of the few remaining "Witches Hat" stations in Ontario.

Much of the history and restoration efforts at the Uxbridge railway station may be found at the York-Durham Heritage Railway website and this is where much of the information I now present comes from.

The rail line that we use was built in the late 1860’s as the Toronto and Nipissing (T&N) Railway. It was built to allow its owner, William Gooderham, a well-known distiller from Toronto, to carry grain to his distillery as well as lumber for export and cordwood for resale. The intention was to cut off the flow of lumber from the Haliburton Highlands which at that time was floated down the Trent River to Trenton. They achieved their aim when the line reached Coboconk on the Gull River. It stopped there and was never extended to its intended target of Lake Nipissing (North Bay).

The Toronto and Nipissing (T&N) was the first public narrow-gauge line in North America. Its yards and terminus were at the foot of Parliament Street, opposite the Gooderham and Worts distillery and mill, which owned it. By adding a third rail between Grand Trunk's wider rails, the line ran east to Scarboro Junction, where it turned north. The railway supplied the distillery and mill with grain and lumber, and opened for business in 1871. Ten years later it was taken over by the Midland Railway, which in turn was taken over by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1883.

The waiting rooms, freight room, and ticket office are now beautifully restored. The Uxbridge station is owned and maintained by the Township of Uxbridge with a team of volunteers operating a museum at the station as well as trains for tourists to Stouffville since 1996.

I can only hope that the City of Barrie can see the sense of recovering the Allandale Railway Station before this heritage / cultural gem is lost. At the very least, the City should realise the money the tourist could bring in - for a quick example, see the post from this fellow Blogger from the UK.


Allandale Train Station

A series of three buildings following the curve of the original Kempenfelt Bay shoreline, the Allandale train station was constructed circa 1905 by the Grand Trunk Railway. The tower has been removed as well as the beautiful clay tiles to be replaced with shingles. Currently abandoned, this site is awaiting redevelopment or possible renovation into a public-use building.

Brief Time Line
(almost accurate)
1853 - Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Union Railway (OS&HUR) builds first station
1894 GTR builds refreshment building/third station. GTR builds refreshment building, which is partially used as waiting room, ticket office and, as space becomes shorter, additional administrative offices. A separate one-storey building provided.
1903 - 1930 - Various improvements.
1974 - Canadian National Railway becomes passenger service operator.
1978 - VIA Rail becomes passenger service operator.
1980 - Station closed but still offers passenger pick-up.
1982 - Passenger rail service terminated.
1990 - Passenger rail service restarted.
1993 - Passenger rail service terminated again due to insufficient ridership.
1996 - CNR lifts rails between Allandale and Longford.
1999 - Allandale Community Development Corporation (ACDC !), a corporation of the the City of Barrie purchases Station and lands from CN Railway.
2000 - CHUM purchases Station and property for new broadcast station.
2004 - CHUM conducts environmental site assessment, historical / archealogical assessment, and some restoration
2006 - The City of Barrie purchases the Station and lands.


Since at least 2006, local municipal, provincial and federal politicians have been pushing to have the passenger service restored. Yesterday (September 11th), Mayor Dave Aspden announced at Council that the agreements between the City, Government of Canada, Province of Ontario and GO Transit was finalised for the resumption of passenger rail service to Barrie.

A new Station, to be named Barrie South, is currently under construction at St. Paul's (Yonge Street and Mapleview Drive East) as well as a GO car layover site, located just east of the old Allandale Station.

It is estimated that in 2004, more than 30,000 people made the daily trip south, mostly along the congested Highway 400 to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). With rising gas prices, it is believed that more commuters would be willing to take the GO Train.

One of the issues why this mode was so unpopular in 1993 was that only one departure and return was offered. Commuters had to board at Allandale around 5:45 AM and did not return until almost 6:55 PM which made for one helluva long day and a short marriage.

The schedule is tentatively set for Barrie departures of 5:45 a.m., 6:15 a.m., 6:45 a.m., and 7:15 a.m., with arrivals in Toronto ending at 8:45 a.m. Trains would leave Toronto at 4:10 p.m., 4:40 p.m., 5:17 p.m., and 6 p.m. arriving in Barrie at 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 6:55 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.

This brings us back to what is to become of the Allandale Train Station.

I have been requested by David Bell, representing Forecast Inc. and developer Mark Porter to remove negative opinions / comments that were posted here . . . my apologies - I was not in a proper state of mind when I initially posted here and most likely under the influence. My criticism of the redevelopment was inappropriate and hurtful to those companies, organisations and to municipal council. Again my apologies, I will attempt to be more open-minded in the future.


VeriFine Bradford

Today's post brings us to beautiful Bradford, Ontario. Located adjacent to the fertile Holland Marsh. One cannot swing a cat and not hit a vegetable field. In fact, the 7,000 acres of reclaimed land produces enough carrots (among other vegetables) to provide every man, women and child in Canada with four pounds every year . . . wow. Bradford is the town where many of the Marsh's produce are further processed, packaged, and put on a back of a truck to your grocery store.

With tight competition, businesses have to go big or go home. That is what happened to the Bradford location of Exeter Produce. They closed up shop on in Bradford but expanded their other locations. So, that brings us to the point of this post . . . the abandonment.

I first took note of this location in April, but thought to let the abandonment 'season' for just a bit more. Thank-goodness I did, evidence found inside during the exploration indicated that decommission work was still be done as late as June. What greeted me today was silent emptiness with only the overgrown weeds for company . . . excellent.

One item of interest noted during the exploration was the excessive use of all manners of signs and other postings. Typically these were safety related (they must have been busted by the Ministry of Labour - no-one is this proactive!). Other signs found related to the the logistics of the vegetables and their shipment, including this interesting above-right. Who knew that all pallets were not created equal.

On the production floor, it appeared that many of the pieces of equipment had already been removed, but enough did remain to give a fairly good idea of the how the vegetables were received, sorted, washed and packaged under the 'VeriFine' brand name.

From all the labels in one of the production floor offices, it appeared that carrots and onions were the order of the day. This was reconfirmed a number of carrot and onion lamented posters in the administration office. Above-right you can see our very own CopySix modeling with just such a poster.

Not often does one find a pitchfork in an office, let alone the abosolutely horrid dead canary yellow for wall colour. Anywho, much of the front offices were completely barren with desks, and office equipment removed. Only the front office 'lounge' had any furniture. I strongly suspect that the decommissioning contractors, had spent several lazy afternoons here producing puppies.

Speaking of workers, their lunchroom, kitchen and locker room, all located on the first floor at the front of building paled in comparison to the decadent luxury found upstairs in the administrative offices. The manager's office had it's own en suite with a shower (for those hot late night office romps I suspect).

I assume that when area farmers delivered produce, it would be weighed and then payment provided at the office. The weigh scale I could find was the one near the massive vegetable washer (sorry - it did not make for a good picture). This leads me to believe that (1) a larger weighscale had been removed some time ago or I simply just did not see it and (2) the smaller scale was used to weigh out solutions for the vegetable washer.

To maintain all the large complex equipment here on site, one would expect a maintenance department and workshop. The workshop appeared to have had all its tools removed but all the lubricants and other fluids were still present.

Remember explorers - eat your vegetables !