Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Then and now

Lady Elgin 
 First train ~ the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Railway
The Lady Elgin was built in Portland, Maine, and was named in honour of  the wife of the governor-general, Lord Elgin.   The locomotive was small and not capable of efficiently hauling itself, and loaded passenger and freight cars, to faraway places like King City and Aurora.   The Lady Elgin was used in the construction of the railway line north but was then relegated to light duties along Toronto's waterfront.

The Toronto
First train to run between Toronto and King City 
The Toronto was the first locomotive built in the city of Toronto and was completed on April 16, 1853.   One month later, on May 16, 1853, The Toronto made its inaugural, 30-mile run north, to King City and Machell's Corners (Aurora).   It was driven by W. T. Haskett and pulled four cars: a coach, a combine (passengers and freight) and two boxcars.   The Toronto lasted about 27 years before being scrapped.

The Josephine
Circa 1865
The Josephine was one of the trains that replaced The Toronto on what had been the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Railway.   The OS&H Railway (also known as the Oats, Straw & Hay Railway) became the Northern Railway of Canada, after just five years of operation, on August 16, 1858.   Note the rack of deer antlers mounted on the front of the engine, just below the top of the smokestack. 

The commuter lifeline
160 years later, the modern GOTransit commuter rail service is extremely popular with commuters between King Township and Toronto.   The service is so well-used that the King City station has run out of  parking spaces for cars.   Below is a photo, taken a couple of years ago, of the weathervane on top of the GO station at King City.   The arrow at top is adorned by an antique train engine, which mysteriously disappeared in the recent past!?!  (GOTransit photos by Barry Wallace).

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

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