Craigleith Station
Is An Historic Heritage Museum

Craigleith station
Town of Blue Mountains, Ontario, Canada.
Craigleith station

A passenger depot I'd love to scratchbuild someday is this one that now stands as a Heritage Center at Craigleith in the Town of Blue Mountains, Ontario, Canada. One of our NMR club members is building a replica for our new model railway that represents the Barrie to Meaford line.

A brief history lesson

Sir Sanford Fleming, the famous railway engineer who, in 1862, presented a plan to the Canadian government to build a railway to connect the east with the Pacific coast, had settled his parents at Craigleith in 1854. It was Andrew Craig Fleming who named the homestead Craigleith which is gaelic for "Rocky Bay". In 1872 the family sold some of the property to the Northern Railway,  This section was completed about 1880.

The railway line here ran from Collingwood west through Thornbury to Meaford. The building was designed as a depot for drop off and pickup of mail and freight. There was no passenger ticket window. Passengers had to buy tickets at Thornbury or Collingwood.

Eventually the railway became part of the Canadian National Railway (CNR) system. This depot is one of the few surviving wooden CNR stations.

In more recent memory, the depot was a key stop in the 1940s for ski trains from Toronto bringing skiers and tourists to the Blue Mountains. This area was rapidly becoming the primary ski destination for Torontonians. It still is today. Passenger service was discontinued in the early 1960s and the CNR sold the property. The track was taken up and now serves as a walking and cycling trail.

The new proprietors, Kenn and Suyrea Knappman, lovingly restored the station and ran it as a restaurant and museum. In 2001 the Town of Blue Mountains bought the property with the help of the Blue Mountains Watershed Trust Foundation and the Craigleith Heritage Committee. The station is now operated as a museum about the history of the region that dates back to the 17th century when 

Petun Indians were native to the area and Craigleith was their main territory. The Wyandot nation of Kansas are descendents of the Petun First Nation that lived in the Georgian Triangle area around Georgian Bay. The Petuns were basically chased out by the Iroquois Six Nation and eventually made their way to the American mid-west. They were relocated into the Kansas and Oklahoma area by the U.S. government. 

The museum also has artifacts and fossils from earlier periods.  The geological formations are some of the oldest in the world. There are also items salvaged from the tragic sinking of the steamer, Mary Ward, in 1872. The depot is surrounded by lilac bushes that blossom each spring overwhelming the trail with their distinctive scent.

Here are some more views. Click on the thumbnails for a larger picture.

Craigleith passenger depot east end Craigleith passenger depot close up of east front Craigleith passenger depot front from west end
Craigleith passenger depot closeup of front west Craigleith passenger depot signboard Craigleith passenger depot west end

Comparing Craigleith to Smithville station

th&b smithville stationTH&B Smithville station

A former member of our Nottawasaga Model Railroad Club, Dave Falconbridge (deceased), turned up at the club one night with an old postcard of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo depot at Smithville, Ontario. It appears to have been built from the same standard plans.

If you're interested in learning more about prototype railroading in Ontario, Canada (as well as model railroading), I recommend Charles Cooper's Railway Pagesa fascinating and informative website about Canadian railroading.

Go to Train Photos overview from Craigleith station.

Go to Labelle, Quebec CPR historic station.

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