Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, August 24, 2015

Train time is any time

'Train time is any time' warns the sign at the entrance to a trestle in Belleville, advising walkers not to take that road less travelled.

 I recall  those words going unheeded by a teacher colleague in rural B.C. a lifetime ago, when he led his hiking Grade 4 class across the local trestle, just as the train required it. Lots of scrambling and screaming. No injuries. No lawsuits. No suspension. Bragging rights. Doubt the event would have passed quite so smoothly these litigious days.

1920 wooden caboose
'Train time is any time' could well have been the rallying cry for the great crowd who assembled in Brighton yesterday, at the site of the 1856 Grand Trunk/CN railway station (it's railway in Canada, railroad in the US, my train friend Larry reminds me.)

There must have been 50 trains hooting by during the afternoon, CN and CP, freight and passenger, at elbow's distance from the fence ("do not touch the fence.") I'm told they were hooting in honour of the event taking place. As well they might.

 For yesterday was a celebration of the vision, the tenacity, the dedication - and the outstanding heritage train station museum - of Ralph and Eugenia Bangay. The event was put together by a group of dedicated followers, in a bit over 3 weeks. Here's a link to their Facebook page.

view from the caboose steps
Because the time was right. The couple aren't getting any younger. They've been amassing and protecting this collection of train station buildings, rolling stock and local railway memorabilia since that day in 1995 when Ralph raced to Toronto to save the historic station from the wrecker's ball. They've had some discouraging vandalism. They haven't yet been successful in finding an organization to take over the project, to continue telling us our railway history, when they take their richly deserved retirement.

Celebrate and protect, the watchword for the group. A challenge to all of us.

The 3+ acres contain enough displays to keep a history buff or train geek busy for days. The original waiting room, ticket agent's office, freight shed filled with artifacts, photographs, ephemera and so much more...and did I mention a great gift shop? Picked up Ron Brown's The Last Stop (about heritage railway stations)   as I'd been threatening to do all summer.
1906 steam locomotive - but wait for Brad Denoon's photos

The Memory Junction website explains that the station is one of only nine remaining of the 32 built to service the fledgling Grand Trunk Railway connecting Toronto to Montreal in 1856. Pretty important bit of history to retain . As Eugenia said "the Grand Trunk Railway opened up our country."

So much to be said about the building's history and structure - for another post. This one is about the party.
volunteers, good wishes and donations all welcome
The event was festive, the crowd supportive. Hope for the future of Memory Junction is strong.

Chatted with lots of friendly Brightonians, some special Hiltonians. All nice.

All but one. Bought my copy of local history guy Dan Buchanan's new book Murder in the Family
about his ancestor Dr. King who poisoned his inconvenient wife in 1858 and became Northumberland's first and only public hanging. A great history who dunnit, not spoiled a whit because we already know. Or do we?

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