NS&T Brill cars at Port Dalhousie

I’m working my way through photographs of the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway from the Andrew Merrilees Collection at Library and Archives Canada*. Among my findings are a number of photos of the NS&T at Port Dalhousie – including the views shared here:

NST 326 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 326 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

NST 324 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 324 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

These two photos are looking east in the ferry dock yard at Port Dalhousie – and while they’re fairly standard views of NS&T equipment, I like that they show some details of the terminal building on the right side of the photos. This was on the water’s edge and was where people would shelter while waiting to board the NS&T lake boats headed for Toronto.

NST 324 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 324 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

Here’s another view of 324 in the ferry dock yard, this time looking west. The photographer may have been standing in front of the terminal building shown in the earlier photos.

This photo is from a different era than the previous picture of 324 – note the bars over the lower windows on the car in this picture (and the kid demonstrating how they don’t quite keep arms in).

The building behind the 324 (at left) was one of many framing this yard area. I have better photo of that building, which I’ll share in a future post.

The two cars shown in these views were part of the 320 series (320-326). These 52-seat suburban cars were built by Brill in 1917 for the Washington-Virginia Railway. The NS&T acquired them in 1929. They were 48’4″ long, weighed 56,200 lbs, and rode on 6′ trucks spaced 21’6″ apart. Car 323 was scrapped in 1945, while the rest were transferred to the Montreal & Southern Counties (another CNER property) in 1947, and scrapped in 1956.

NS&T 320-326 were known as the “Washington” cars, and in his revised book on the NS&T, author John Mills describes them as the most versatile cars the railway ever owned – noting they could handle local or suburban services, and were even used in mainline extras when required. They were favourites for the Port Dalhousie route.

*Earlier this month, I joined my friends Jeff Young and Peter Foley on a visit to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to do a dive into the astonishing Andrew Merrilees Collection. (Thanks to both gentlemen for helping to make my first visit to the archives a successful and enjoyable journey of discovery.)

Drawing on a finding aid compiled by Ottawa-area railway historian Colin Churcher, I tracked down and copied numerous photos of the Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway and its predecessor lines. As part of the Merrilees collection at LAC, these are free to distribute with proper attribution, so I’ll be sharing my findings on this blog as time permits. To that end, I’ve created the Andrew Merrilees Collection category, so readers may find all posts related to this incredible archive of railway history.

NS&T at Martindale Pond

On the way to Port Dalhousie, after crossing 12 Mile Creek, the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway headed north along the side of Martindale Road. Before it could reach the port, however, it had to deal with another wet obstacle: Martindale Pond.

As illustrated in these photos from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt, the NS&T surmounted this obstacle with a trestle:

NST 83 - Martindale Pond

NS&T 83 – Martindale Pond. Photographer and date unknown

NST 622 - Martindale Pond

NS&T 622 – Martindale Pond. Photographer and date unknown

NST 622 - Martindale Pond

NS&T 622 – Martindale Pond. Photographer and date unknown

Martindale Pond is a small artificial lake near the shores of Lake Ontario created to permit navigation on the first Welland Canal. (It also served as the route for the second and third canals: remains of locks from those canals are still visible.) The NS&T – and Martindale Road – crossed the pond at a narrow bay that jutted to the west of the pond.

Martindale Pond - 1955 aerial photo

1955 aerial photo showing the Martindale Pond trestle, from the Brock University online collection.

(I’ve written previously about the 12 Mile Creek bridge and about the Canning Factory siding.)

As it approached the pond crossing, the Martindale Road swung further to the west – away from the NS&T – then crossed the pond on its own bridge. This provided an excellent vantage point for railfans to grab photos like the ones shown in this post.

Today, Martindale Road has been relocated to follow the roadbed of the NS&T and a new bridge exists where the trestle once was. The original alignment – now Old Martindale Road – is now a recreational trail.

Martindale Pond from the rec trail

Martindale Pond from Old Martindale Road. Google Street View – 2018.

In 1903, Martindale Pond was chosen as the site for the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course – a world-renowned rowing venue, and host to the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. It hosted the World Rowing Championships in 1970 and 1999, and the rowing competitions held as part of the 2015 Pan American Games held in Toronto.

Port Dalhousie & Lakeside Park

In an earlier post, I shared photos of several Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway passenger cars headed through Woodruffs siding near Ontario Street in St. Catharines. Those cars were on the Port Dalhousie Division, taking people to and from the amusements at Lakeside Park. Here are some photos of the north end of that division, from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST309-NST68-LakesidePark

NS&T 309 and NS&T 68 – Lakeside Park, Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

The Port Dalhousie Division was considered part of the St. Catharines local lines – but it presented many challenges to the NS&T. Lakeside Park was popular during beach season, meaning there was heavy seasonal traffic. In addition, a dance hall in Port Dalhousie generated a lot of riders. John Mills notes in his revised book on the NS&T that trains were often run as “doubles” (two cars running close together, on the same schedule), and that during peak Port Dalhousie season, up to six sections could use the same schedule. By 1940, the NS&T decided to run the division using standard railway operating rules, with green flags for advanced sections, white flags for extras, and – of course – red flags or markers bringing up the rear.

NS&T 309 is a Cincinnati car, in the 301-312 series. The presence of Cincinnati cars on this line suggests the photos were taken after 1947, as that’s when they were pressed into service to the Port after the CNR transferred the NS&T’s 320-series cars to Montreal. The Cincinnati cars did not track well on open track work, such as the stretch between Port Dalhousie and Woodruffs, and frequently derailed. The NS&T had better luck with 68 – a Preston product built for the London & Lake Erie in 1908 and acquired by the NS&T in 1920. NS&T 68 was 51 feet long, weighed 34,380 pounds, and sat 54 passengers.

NST309-LakesidePark

NS&T 309 – Lakeside Park, Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

NS&T 309 is just leaving Lakeside Park. It’s about to cross Lock Street in Port Dalhousie and run southwest along Main Street.

NST80 - Port Dalhousie

NS&T 80 – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

Further along Main Street, NS&T 80 is headed out of the centre of the road and onto private right of way. Here, there was a siding known either as Corbetts or the Canning Factory siding. This was on the southeast side of the road and the start of the siding can just be seen at lower right.

NST309+others - Cannery Siding, Port Dalhousie

NS&T equipment – Port Dalhousie. Photographer and date unknown.

This photo was taken further west on the canning factory siding. Car 309 – at right – is headed towards Lakeside Park in this image. Ahead of it, at the left edge of the photo, is another car heading to the Port. They’re meeting two cars – including a Cincinnati curved side in the 301-312 series – making the return trip to St. Catharines on the track closest to the photographer.

The two cars that are not Cincinnati products could be NS&T 327 and 328. They are known to have covered the Port Dalhousie Division, and they do not appear to have integral classification/marker lights above the end windows.

NS&T 327 and 328 were built by Preston in 1914 for the Edmonton Radial Railway. From there, they went to the Oshawa Railway as that line’s 80 and 81. At some point, the Oshawa Railway converted them into tool sheds – and it could’ve been their fate to rot in place. But World War II placed new pressure on the NS&T, and to satisfy the demand these two cars were acquired from Oshawa in 1943 and returned to active duty with motors and parts from NS&T 62 and 64. They were scrapped in September 1950.

The brown building at the left of the photo, behind Cincinnati car, is the Port Dalhousie Canning Company. According to a history of Canadian Canners Limited by Louise Elder, this factory was built in 1913. It packed strawberries, raspberries, cherries, tomatoes, peaches, pears, plumbs, tomatoes, pumpkins and apples under the “Harbor” and “Harvest” labels.

Port Dalhousie Canning Company Ltd

Port Dalhousie Canning Company Ltd

Two views of the Port Dalhousie Canning Company Ltd. Photographer and date unknown.

The Port Dalhousie Canning Company was purchased by Dominion Canners Ltd in 1923, but DCL used it only for storage. DCL sold the facility to the Port Dalhousie Lions Club in 1952. The club has since built a new hall at 201 Main Street, the site of the original canning plant.

NS&T 83 – Michigan Beach

As I work my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt, it’s clear that Car 83 was a popular choice for railfan trips. Here’s an example, running rare mileage on the NS&T:

NS&T 83 - Michigan Beach

NS&T 83 – Michigan Beach. Photographer and date unknown.

Based on other photos taken of this car at this location, I’m pretty sure the date of this photograph is September 8, 1957. Car 83 is on an enthusiasts’ excursion trip on what is normally, by this time, a freight-only line.

Where the heck is Michigan Beach, you ask? It’s another name for the east side of the basin where 12 Mile Creek and Martindale Pond empty into Lake Ontario. It was also called Port Dalhousie East, as the boats from Toronto would exchange passengers here with NS&T Main Line trains to Niagara Falls, before turning in the basin to dock at the west side at Port Dalhousie, where Lakeside Park is located.

As the hopper car might suggest, there was a coal transfer operation on the Michigan Beach side of the water. Once the NS&T discontinued its boat trains, this 2.93-mile line – the Grantham Division – remained in operation for freight, as there were a number of customers along its path between Michigan Beach and the Geneva Street terminal downtown. Just northwest of the terminal, the 1923 St. Catharines Fire Maps show a major rail-served industry – Canadian Crocker-Wheeler Company – in the block between George and Catherine, south of Russell Avenue. This complex appears in 1955 aerial photos, although I don’t know what company is on this site at that time. Today, it’s the Catherine Street Park – and the NS&T Grantham Division that used to run past it is now the Terry Fox Trail…

(My thanks to members of the NS&T Facebook group, who helped me to identify the location.)