Port Rowan abandonments: The official documents

Thanks to Steve Lucas, I now have some interesting documents to share about the Port Rowan branch. These are orders from the Board of Transport Commissioners for Canada. Copies of the orders, with my observations, follow in chronological order. Click on each for a larger view in a new window/tab…

Order 58488 – January 8, 1940:
Order 58489 – January 8, 1940:
These two orders give the railway permission to close the stations at Forestville (spelled incorrectly in the order) and Walsh. By the earliest era that I model – 1953 – these locations don’t even show up as mile posts on the employee time table. The railway used to haul loads of saplings from a tree farm in Forestville. (UPDATE: I’m in error on this – it was an Ontario Government Forestry Station that shipped saplings out of St. Williams. Thanks to regular reader Monte Reeves for catching that!)
Permission to close station at Forrestville, Ontario (Jan 8 - 1940) photo BoardOrder-58488_zps38e8d418.jpg

Permission to close station at Walsh, Ontario (Jan 8 - 1940) photo BoardOrder-58489_zps21122491.jpg

Order 59419 – July 20, 1940:
This order approved the railway’s plans for a shelter at St. Williams. I’m intrigued by two things about this. First, that it was referred to as a “shelter” and not a “station”. Second, that a plan was filed with the board (File 42628) that details the shelter and its location. I would love to find a copy of that file!
Approval to build shelter at St. Williams, Ontario (July 20 - 1940) photo BoardOrder-59419_zpseb00a004.jpg

Order 108375 – July 13, 1962:
This order gives the railway leave to remove the station agent at St. Williams. It therefore confirms that a station agent was on duty at St. Williams until five years past the latest era that I model – 1957. It also confirms that there was express service to St. Williams – since the board has ordered the railway to continue to provide such service after removing the station agent.
Permission to remove station agent at St. Williams, Ontario (July 13 - 1962) photo BoardOrder-108375_zpsbecc3d2a.jpg

Order 115721 – October 20, 1964:
This order – a two pager – is the saddest order a community can receive. Here, the board has granted the railway leave to abandon the entire line from Port Rowan to Simcoe. As the order infers, the Port Rowan community and some shippers (both at the yard and in the town) were against the abandonment and were to be notified by the railway of the date that service would cease – presumably so they could make other plans.
Permission to abandon Port Rowan branch (October 20 - 1964) page 1 of 2 photo BoardOrder-117721p1_zps10c3a7a9.jpg

Permission to abandon Port Rowan branch (October 20 - 1964) page 2 of 2 photo BoardOrder-117721p2_zps478b2e31.jpg

9 thoughts on “Port Rowan abandonments: The official documents

  1. Thanks for sharing these. I have copies of similar files for a few station closings as well as abandonments of the Otterville Subdivision (Simcoe Jct. to Otterville, Burgessville to Woodstock and Hickson to Tavistock Jct.) purchased from the National Archives of Canada. Most included details on inbound and outbound passenger, express and freight to justify the closing but some were just a copy of the C.N.Rys. application and the resulting order. If I only lived closer to Ottawa and had time to spare…

  2. Hey Trevor, did Steve get these files from the National Archives as well? I’ve picked a few up myself for the Creemore line. Chris

    • Hi Chris:
      I don’t know – I’m just glad he shared them with me. I’ll have to investigate the archives to see if more documents are available. I’d really like that shelter plan for St. Williams…

      • Finding architectural drawings at the NAC is an exercise in patience, perseverance and, at least for, drawings that while interesting weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I have a number of so-called “Finding Aids” but nothing lists St. Williams. The only potenetially relevant architectural drawing is RG30M 78903/42 item 916, which is described as “South Norfolk Railway. First class station. Plans, section & elevation. E.R. Hannaford, Chief Engineer, Sept. 1888. 1025-1.”

        • Thanks for the input Jeff and Trevor. I’ll have to go straight to the horses mouth and ask Steve.

          I actually live in Ottawa, and have spent time at the archives looking at the subdivison discontinued reports for the Alliston sub, and a few others. Under the index they spelt something wrong and was by chance that Peter Bowers sent me the index. Have not found much more in regards to individual station documents.

          You have to wonder how much information and reports has gone missing or been thrown out over the years by the various organizations.

          Take care, Chris

      • RG30-A-9-d (MIKAN No. 1549754) “Railroads Incorporated (History) – Unprofitable branch lines – Port Rowan Sub-division.” might be of interest if it’s anything like those I got for the Otterville Subdivision.

        The other group is RG46 (Board of Transportation Commissioners), which contains files like: “Livestock handling – W.H. Jewell, St. Williams, Ontario, Grand Trunk Railway – Stock shipping” (1916). It’s also where you’ll find the “Station, establishment, closure and removal” files for Forestville (1939-1940) and Walsh (1939-1965).

  3. Hi Trevor: I read with interest Steve’s post on the abandonments of both stations and the subdivision. As a youngster, I remember when Walsh station was open in the mid 50s. I would like to verify that with a local senior if possible. My father told me that Forrestville station was torn down and the baggage shed was moved to St. Williams because it’s station had burned. I would be interested in knowing about the trees that were shipped out of Forrestville because Heinz pickles were the only item that I ever knew were shipped from this location. I remember the mile-post #14 along the track through our south-west fields on the farm that I grew up on. The line was abandoned through the farm the week of March 15th, 1965. I have more to tell you at another time about the complications of the abandonment. Business in Port Rowan was stable and new business at Norfolk Farms i.e. Reefers, was potentially there to maintain this branch. Canadian National however, began to rip branches out between 1963 and 70 with a vengence. I believe the Simcoe Junction to Otterville of the old Port Dover and Lake Huron railway was abandoned in 1935. My father rode it to visit his cousin near Burgessville as a child. The line from Jarvis to Port Dover that paralleled Hwy #6 and went underneath the Cayuga Sub at Jarvis was also abandoned in 1935. My guess is that cheap labour was abundant at this time due to the Great Depression.
    Yours in railroading,
    Monte Reeves

    • Hi Monte:
      Thanks for writing. I’ve just checked Ian Wilson’s book and the Ontario Government Forestry Station shipped saplings out of St. Williams, not Forestville! My error – good catch.
      I’m looking forward to more great stories from you… at your convenience, of course.

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