Historic Freeman railway station reopens this weekend


You gained’t have the ability to catch a prepare at “Freeman Station” in Burlington when it reopens on Saturday.

However it is possible for you to to bask in some railway nostalgia.

Consider it as an opportunity to journey again by way of time, slightly than by way of area.

The 116-year-old constructing on Fairview Road — that was remodeled into an interpretive centre in 2017 — has been in hibernation mode for the previous two years due to COVID-19.

Ed Keenleyside in the station master's office in the restored Freeman Station. Ed is the president of the Friends of Freeman Station that runs the restored 1906 Grand Trunk Railway Station.

Now that pandemic restrictions have been eased, the volunteer group that appears after facility has determined to welcome the general public once more. Amongst different issues, they need to exhibit some main enhancements made throughout the shutdown.

However, visiting alternatives might be restricted over the subsequent a number of months, with the station being open solely at some point per 30 days.

“What we are attempting to indicate individuals is what a prepare station appeared like within the early 1900s. They’ll have the ability to evaluate the distinction to what a GO Station is like right now,” says Ed Keenleyside, president of the Pals of Freeman Station.

The closure throughout COVID led to a serious drop in donations, one thing that may have been disastrous with out authorities help. As properly, the pandemic has meant the variety of volunteers has declined as properly.

However, adversity is nothing new to the station that is without doubt one of the final of its variety from the as soon as mighty Grand Trunk Railway system.

Late 1800s photo of version two of "Freeman Station" that burned down to make way for a third version of the station that was built in 1906 and was used until 1988.

In 1854, the primary model of the station — two storeys tall with station grasp quarters on the highest ground — was constructed at 950 Brant St. The wooden construction burned down 28 years later.

Rebuilt shortly after in 1883, it burned down once more in 1906.

That led to a one-storey third model of the station that operated till 1988 when the GO Transit station on Fairview changed it.

Demolition appeared inevitable for the excess constructing, however group teams rallied to avoid wasting the station that’s identified informally as “Freeman Station” due to the hamlet of Freeman round it. However, the station was formally often known as “Burlington Junction” or “Burlington West.”

Early 1900s photo of "Freeman Station" in Burlington that at the time was located on Brant Street. The station has also been known as "Burlington Junction" and "Burlington West" station at various times over the years.

The Metropolis of Burlington ended up shopping for the station for one greenback in 2010, with the understanding the constructing could be moved. No everlasting web site may very well be discovered so it was loaded on a flatbed truck and positioned behind the Burlington Fireplace Division station on Fairview Road on a short lived foundation.

Then in 2015 a deal was struck to make use of an adjoining part of property owned by a chemical firm that’s presently often known as Solenis. The transfer was solely 200 metres.

Then two years later, the station was formally opened to the general public.

However then the pandemic struck in early 2020, and the station has been closed ever since.

Traditional railroad lanterns on display in the station master's office.

Keenleyside says volunteers continued restoration work over the downtime with renovations to a boxcar and caboose behind the lot in addition to landscaping work. Inside, new audiovisual gear was added, and a large scale mannequin of the station and the speedy space was labored on within the basement.

“We haven’t been open, however we’ve been busy,” says Keenleyside, who hopes the enhancements to the location will additional assist individuals understand how spectacular the realm’s railway system was greater than a century in the past.

“Lots of people assume issues are much more streamlined and loads sooner right now. However within the early 1900s, it was potential to take a letter to Freeman Station and have it delivered to a buddy in Toronto. After which the buddy may ship again a response all in at some point,” he says.

The ticket wicket in the station master's office in the restored Freeman Station at 1285 Fairview St., Burlington.

However security was a difficulty within the outdated days of steam journey. Accidents had been widespread, together with a large collision between a passenger prepare and freight prepare that killed two railway employees on March 1, 1898.

The 50-car freight prepare was stopped on a sidetrack, close to Freeman Station, to permit the passenger prepare to move on the primary line. However an worker made a switching error.

“The brakeman, whose job it was to vary the monitor change, forgot. He left it within the open place and the passenger prepare, slightly than going straight on important line, went on the sideline and smashed into the again of the freight prepare,” he says. The prepare engineer, Thomas Hutchison, and “fireman” James Clark ended up dying from accidents. However no others had been significantly harm.

Ed Keenleyside points out the schedule for March 1, 1898, the day the freight train and passenger train collided at Freeman Station in Burlington.

The tragic incident is remembered by a replica of the prepare schedule for that day which is framed on a wall of the station.

Keenleyside, a former highschool historical past instructor and native historical past fan, has spent quite a lot of time researching the accident and made a exceptional discovery.

It seems one the individuals on the passenger prepare was his great-grandfather, Anthony Keenleyside, 72. The daddy of 11 grown youngsters was on his approach to Toronto for a enterprise assembly.

Freeman Station schedule

The station at 1285 Fairview St., Burlington might be open from 10 a.m. to three p.m. on April 30, Might 21, June 11, July 1, Aug. 6, Sept. 10, Oct. 1. Admission is free. Donations accepted. For data: freemanstation.ca

Early 1900s photo of "Freeman Station" in Burlington that at the time was located on Brant Street.

Marianne Schuett replace

On April 27 at 4 p.m., the bells of Kilbride United Church will ring out to recollect the fifty fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of 10-year-old Marianne Schuett.

The lady was coaxed by a middle-aged man right into a dark-coloured station wagon exterior her college within the Burlington space hamlet of Kilbride on April 27, 1967. Her physique was by no means discovered, and her abductor by no means charged.

Final summer season, I wrote about two retired cops — Linda Gillis Davidson from the RCMP and Gord Collins from Peel Regional Police — who’ve been volunteering their time to analyze the chilly case. They imagine Marianne’s physique was discarded in a subject in Acton off Freeway 25 and 22 Facet Highway shortly after she was kidnapped.

On the weekend of Sept. 11 final yr, the retired officers, a bunch of volunteers, cadaver-sniffing canines and an archeologist scraped by way of sections of the property to assemble samples for evaluation. The search discovered a small piece of white cloth that was despatched away for DNA evaluation together with different materials. The evaluation discovered human DNA however there was not sufficient materials to make use of for tracing.

The investigators plan to return to the location in late Might or June to assemble extra samples with assist of ultraviolet laser search gear that’s designed to trigger bone, blood and different physique to glow. They’re hoping the know-how will assist them discover higher samples for evaluation.


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