Train to be relocated
For over half a century, people travelling along County Road 2 between Morrisburg and Upper Canada Villages were able to view this locomotive and train cars, reminiscent of a time long past in our transportation history. SLPC recently released its intention to divest itself of the train due to restoration costs estimated to be $1.1-million. Thompson Goddard photo

SOUTH DUNDAS – Following the July 22 announcement of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission to “divest itself of the locomotive and cars located in Crysler Park near Upper Canada Village”, there were reactions of disbelief, sadness and surprise throughout the area.

The SLPC press release goes on to explain this difficult decision was made based on two reports commissioned by the parks commission. SLPC spokesperson Susan LeClair explained in an email to The Record how the first report was “to evaluate the condition of the train and to estimate the repair cost” and the “second report was the Designated Substance Survey report that looked at hazardous materials.” She continued how the decision by the SLPC “to divest itself of the train” was made in December 2018, with the re-affirmation of this decision at “the July 2019 board meeting”.

When asked if the commission might reverse its decision, LeClair explained how while this was a difficult decision for the board to make, as it was aware of the train’s connection to the community, “the condition of the train is at a point where a decision about its future needed to be made.” With a $1.1-million price tag for restoring the train, and after consultations with the Municipality of South Dundas which is, according to LeClair, “unable to move forward to acquire the train”, a “Request for Expression of Interest” for the divesting of these pieces of transportation history is currently underway.

In a recent press release from the Municipality of South Dundas dated July 18, the SLPC was urged to “keep the train at its current location”; with Mayor Steven Byvelds commenting how the train had “brought the community together in the past and should remain in South Dundas where our people can continue to care for this historic machine.” The release described how 20 years ago when faced with the possible removal of the train from Crysler Park, “residents formed the Save the Train Committee to raise funds and volunteer their time to refurbish the machine.”

In a recent email to The Chesterville Record, Lost Villages Historical Society president Jim Brownell commented how he admired “the work of all those who stepped to the plate to refurbish the train years ago” referring to the committee of interested persons who worked to ensure the train remained in this area when confronted with its possible sale in the latter part of the 20th century. Brownell also confirmed this train was not the famed “Moccasin” which travelled along the front prior to the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, and was an integral part of our local history.

Information provided by the SLPC explained that the locomotive and railway cars date from the early part of the 20th century and arrived at their current location in the late 1950s. The train was placed on tracks from the Grand Trunk Railway and is presently located adjacent to the Aultsville Train Station in Crysler Park. The SLPC press release confirms that the train station and track will remain at their present location.

The loss of this part of our local history will not go unnoticed and Brownell commented how “it will be a sad day indeed, when I will no longer be able to tell my bus tour patrons, ‘through the Lands of the Lost Villages’, about the train sitting on the original railroad. It was always a thrill for the bus tour participants to see the train pointed directly at the bus, as the bus was travelling west on the old railroad bed, now County Road 2.”