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Railways in Mississauga

Tracks Through Time:
Railways in Mississauga

Overview:

In 1854-55 the Great Western Railway was completed though Port Credit and Clarkson, connecting Toronto and Hamilton. As a faster and more efficient form of transportation, railways were responsible for the economic development of export industries in the 1850’s and 1860’s. The railway allowed farmers, millers and local industries who were situated along the railroad to send their produce and goods to Toronto and beyond, resulting in the expansion of business. Two other railways were built through Toronto Township: the Grand Trunk Railway in 1854-56, which allowed Malton to develop into a major wheat exporting centre, and the Credit Valley Railway in 1878, which was built through Erindale and Streetsville in 1878. The last railway, of sorts, to come to Toronto Township was the Toronto-Guelph Radial Railway, which operated from 1917-1931. Little visible evidence remains today to remind us of this railway.

Great Western Railway:

The Great Western Railway Company began with a ceremonial sod-turning on October 23rd, 1847, in London, Ontario. The first rail line was built between Hamilton, Niagara and Windsor in 1854. One of the major early backers of the GWR was Sir Allan MacNab of Hamilton. It was McNab’s plan to Hamilton with Toronto. He joined the board of the Great Western Railway in 1845 and when he was fired eight years later, the GWR had yet to lay a single rail to connect the two growing cities. That changed in 1855, when, under new leadership, the Great Western Railway opened the rail line which connected Toronto and Hamilton. In its infancy, the GWR ran three local trains daily, plus an afternoon express and mail train. Over the next 50 years, the railway progressed rapidly. The Grand Trunk took over ownership of the GWR rail line in 1882, and was replaced in turn by the CN and Go Transit. In 1923, Canadian National Railways took over the bankrupt Grand Trunk Railway, and later transferred use to the Toronto Transportation Commission (now Toronto Transit Commission – TTC) and mainly operates as a GO Train commuter rail line. Over 150 years after the first tracks were laid, the GWR line remains one of the busiest rail lines in the Province, although now primarily used by commuters.

Grand Trunk Railway:

The Grand Trunk Railway came through Malton in 1854, and helped to turn this small rural community into an active shipping centre, and it helped to boost the local economy. With the convenience of the railway and a direct connection to the Toronto market, Malton became a major exporting location for wheat from local farmers and flour from nearby mills. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada was first proposed in 1851, and was incorporated on November 10th, 1852. The Grand Trunk Railway Company purchased five smaller railways, one of which was the Toronto and Guelph Railway Company. This company already had a new line under construction and had been acquiring land in the Malton area from local farmers. With the acquisition of this company, the Grand Trunk Railway completed the route, passed through Malton, Guelph and Stratford, and finally reached Sarnia in 1859. The Grand Trunk Railway Company went bankrupt in 1919, and the line was taken over by the Canadian National Railway (CNR) in 1923, and the line still operates under CN jurisdiction today.

Credit Valley Railway:

The Credit Valley Railway was constructed between 1877 and 1879. The CVR was incorporated in February of 1871 to construct a new rail line connecting Toronto and Orangeville, via Streetsville. The principle backer of the project was George Laidlaw. The CVR charter was later amended over the next several years to permit a branch into Elora from Cataract, line extension from Galt to Woodstock, and empowerment to build through to St. Thomas to connect with the Canada Southern Railway. Formal construction began in 1874. Money was short, however, and progress was slow. The first section of track, from Parkdale (in Toronto) to Milton was opened in 1877. By 1879, the line was operational from Milton to Galt and into Orangeville and Elora. After final completion of the line in 1881, the company was nearly bankrupt and began searching for a buyer or lease arrangement. A number of municipalities that had provided funds for construction were concerned with this event in that it was anticipated that the construction of the line would increase competition and break the monopoly created by the Grand Trunk Railway. A solution was soon found when CVR president George Laidlaw convinced the Canadian Pacific Railway to take over the line in 1883. A division of CP Rail System Canada (Canadian Pacific Railway, CP), the St. Lawrence & Hudson Railway was organized in 1995 and follows the rail line right-of-way established by the Credit Valley Railway Company in 1877. A branch of the Credit Valley Railway connected with Orangeville and Elora through a junction north of Streetsville. This branch line was abandoned by CP between 1987 and 1995. The branch line was purchased by Orangeville Brampton Railway Company (OBRY) in 2000.

Toronto-Guelph Radial Railway:

On January 1st, 1916, Adam Beck proposed a new Radial Railway Line that would connect Toronto and Guelph, running through Toronto Township. A formal meeting was organized on February 16th, 1916. The line was to begin in Lambton, in modern Etobicoke, with station stops in Summerville, Cooksville, and Meadowvale Village, on its way to Guelph. The Radial Railway was officially opened on April 14th, 1917. By 1927, the Radial Line, which was then owned by the Canadian National Electric Railway, was operating 42 Radial Trains per day. The Radial Line was discontinued on August 15th, 1931, due in part to the number of accidents which occurred on the line (over 70 people had been killed in accidents), rising costs, poor profits and competition from the automobile. The Radial Line tracks were removed in 1936. Little evidence of the Radial Railway Line right-of-way remains in Mississauga. Only in a few places in Mississauga can this right-of-way be readily identified.

Historic Train Stations:

Summerville Station (Credit Valley Railway)

The Summerville Railway Station, located between Dixie Road and Brown’s Line, was built about 1878 by the Credit Valley Railway, which was later taken over by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The building was sold in 1941 by CPR to Les Hughes, and later to Alan Johnson and Ben Madill. It was finally bought by the Ontario Rail Association and as of 1978 was stored in Milton for historic preservation. As of the late 1980s it was stored on the farm of Sherwood Hume. Mr. Hume is on the Board of Directors of the South Simcoe Railway Heritage Foundation, Tottenham.

Cooksville Station (Credit Valley Railway)

The coming of the Credit Valley Railway in 1879 brought an immediate boost the Cooksville and Dixie economy, and opened new methods of transportation for agricultural produce. The first Cooksville Station was built in 1878. This station burned in 1883, and was replaced. A third station was constructed in 1912, and stood until 1975, near modern Hensall Circle.

Clarkson (Clarkson’s) Station (Great Western Railway)

The railway station was originally located on the north side of the railway tracks, behind the store and Post Office on Clarkson Road. The railway secured right-of-way across Warren Clarkson’s lots in 1853. It brought commerce to local fruit and vegetable farmers. Corn, apples and especially strawberries were produced in Clarkson. The corner of Clarkson’s property, later purchased by the Great Western Railway, became known as Clarkson’s Corner. The railway siding carried the same name. The apostrophe in Clarkson’s was removed from the sign in 1956. The Clarkson Station burned in 1962. Clarkson saw its last CN train on May 19, 1967, after which Go Transit took over operation of rail line. The concrete foundation of the old station can still be seen amongst the weeds where tank cars from Petro-Canada are stored. Clarkson’s lubricants plant is one of the few surviving industrial shippers still using the rail line today. 

Malton Station (Grand Trunk Railway)

The first Railway first came through Malton in 1854 and turned the small community into an active shipping centre. The first station in Malton is believed to have opened in 1856. On Saturday mornings, men and women would fill up the platform, carrying baskets and other means of conveyance of goods to take to Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market. By the early 1900s, with the advent of paved roads and automobiles, goods were transported to market by train less and less and the Malton Station became a Flag Stop. A second frame station was constructed in 1912 where Scarboro Street meets the rail tracks. The station and railway increased in activity when construction began on the nearby airport in the 1930s. The Malton Train Station was demolished in 1973.

Meadowvale Station (Credit Valley Railway)

The Meadowvale Station was established circa 1878, and the first train passed through Meadowvale on December 6, 1878. The official opening of the station and railway line took place on September 19, 1879. In 1956 the train service at the Meadowvale Station was terminated, and the station became a Flag Stop. By 1960, a caretaker was being paid $25 a month for part-time service. On July 16, 1962, the Toronto Township council concurred with the CPR’s request to discontinue service at the Meadowvale station. The station was then used for the Provimi Feed Company until it was torn down in the summer of 1976. The lumber was bought by John Landon and used in the building of a workshop and garage on his property east of the Credit River. During its demolition Steven Moran from Streetsville found several telegrams dating from before 1900 shoved under the top of the wall.

Port Credit Station (Great Western Railway)

The first Train Station in Port Credit was opened on December 3rd, 1855, and the first Train Master was John Alanson. The railway helped to boost the local economy, and although it contributed to the decline of the port, businesses in Port Credit that relied on the railway prospered. In the 1870s five trains ran daily between Toronto to Hamilton. On March 23, 1916 at 10:15 pm, Port Credit’s residents were witness to a train wreck that occurred 2 kilometres east of the Station. A Chicago Flyer with engineer Harry Overend in the cab of the engine ploughed into the back of a freight car at approximately 100 kilometres an hour. The Port Credit Train Station burned to the ground a few years later the Western Hotel was built in its place, also since demolished, on Stavebank Road. The train route still is used today by the CPR and GO Transit since 1967.

Streetsville CPR Station (Credit Valley Railway)

Built in 1914 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and typical of the stations built for small towns in the early 20th century, this brick train station consisted of a waiting room, ticket office, express office and baggage room with some attached service areas. Passenger train service was discontinued in 1961 and the station was used as a freight office until its demolition in 1982. The station stood at the end of Old Station Road in Streetsville.

Streetsville Junction Station (Credit Valley Railway)

Streetsville suffered a major blow due to a lack of efficient transport to outside markets draining commercialism and industry away from Streetsville to centres that were served by early railway routes, such as Malton, Brampton and Port Credit. In 1873 Streetsville was dealt another blow when Cooksville was chosen as the permanent seat of Toronto Township council and Town Hall. By 1876 Streetsville had a glimmer of hope in the upcoming arrival of the new Credit Valley Railway. With the coming of the CVR some of the local businesses that left the area in previous decades started to return. The train station was built in 1879 just north of Britannia Road and was first used by the CVR, and then was later operated by the CPR. Although the Streetsville CVR station still stands and is Mississauga’s sole surviving historic railway station, it was moved to its current location on William Street in Streetsville in 1914. The station has always been painted white, and the turret was both practical and stylistic, as it provided a clear view of the tracks in both directions, and served as an office for the telegraph operator.

Erindale Station (Credit Valley Railway)

The prosperity of Erindale Village had tapered off due in part to the bypassing of the village by the Great Western Railway in 1855, as the Dundas Highway lost much of its traffic and commerce to this new and more efficient form of transportation. It was not until 1879, when the Credit Valley Railway was opened, that Erindale received its own station and could benefit from access to rail transportation. The railway station was located on Erindale Station Road, and Bert Doerr was an early station agent. The station was a busy depot since mail was loaded and unloaded here, as was freight, parcels and agricultural produce. The train also transported passengers and livestock. The train station was demolished in the 1950s and the CVR was absorbed into the Canadian Pacific Railway.

© Mississauga Heritage 2009