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Allandale Train Station – From the era of the grand railway stations

May 2020

Originally built in 1904 as the flagship station of the Grand Trunk Railroad, the station was part of the transportation corridor between Toronto and the GTR’s northern Ontario operations. 

Built in the Italianate style, the station was made up of three buildings:  a restaurant portion, a passenger depot and railroad offices.  Historic Places Canada notes these three buildings are “…visually linked through their complimentary massing, uniform roof pitch and common rail-inspired details…Together they create an atypical, visually distinctive station composition.“ 

The design features of the station produced a visually distinctive station.

The station once sat right on the edge of Kempenfelt Bay, but infilling of the bay was done to create a rail yard.  A roundhouse and a master mechanic and stores building were built just to the west of the station.

Canadian National Railways took over the Allandale Station in 1922, along with all of the GTR’s operations following the demise of the company, and operated the station until closing it to passenger service in 1980. 

The Allandale Station briefly re-opened as a passenger station for GO Transit, a provincial agency providing passenger rail service in the Greater Toronto & Hamilton area of southern Ontario, from 1990 – 1993, after which the station was permanently shut down. 

CN Railway officially abandoned the line and the rails running north between Allandale and Longford Mills, near Orillia, were removed in 1996.

The Allandale Station sat abandoned and deteriorating until 2009, when the City of Barrie undertook a $10 million project to restore and preserve the historic station.

Although the historic Allandale station itself doesn’t service trains anymore, a new station was built just to the south to service GO Transit.

Officially named the Allandale Waterfront GO Station, it officially opened for bus service on 28 January 2012, and rail service two days later, completing the missing link from the Bradford GO station, allowing for the resumption of GO service that had been suspended in 1993.

Legal Issues

Future plans for the station have included a restaurant and a railway museum.  Unfortunately, these plans have been tied up in litigation between the City of Barrie and Indicom Appraisal Associates Inc. for the past decade, over a failed plan to re-develop the Allandale lands; a plan that would have featured the old GTR station as the centrepiece.

The station lands were located upon the site of a late twelfth century Iroquoian fishing station. This also at times interrupted the restoration of the station and re-development operations for archaeological assessments and digs after several human remains were found. All were determined to be centuries-old remains of Indigenous people. The remains removed and re-interred in consultation with the local First Nations, many of whom feel the property could contain the remains of other Indigenous people including Algonquins, Six Nations, Métis and other (yet to be identified) Indigenous people.

This has caused other legal and ethical issues over the redevelopment of the land. According to Keith Doxsee, a representative of the Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, “The Allandale site was known to be an Indigenous burial site for centuries.” Doxsee also added, “For unexplained reasons the city has neglected or refused to acknowledge this fact.”1.

The former railway Master Mechanics Office, to the east of the station, also remains in use as a community centre, now called the Southshore Centre.

The former GTR roundhouse was demolished around the time of the station’s closure, but work floor of the roundhouse, along with the filled-in work pits, remained until 2017, when it was covered over during the creation of Barrie’s Military Heritage Park. A round concrete band was placed to represent the exterior roundhouse walls, partially encircling a hill on top of the roundhouse’s footprint that offers a good view of the various park features.

Sources: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=8884, https://www.barrie.ca/Living/projects/Pages/AllandaleTrainStation.aspx, https://www.barrietoday.com/local-news/the-city-of-barrie-screwed-up-says-paralegal-in-allandale-station-lawsuit-1113256.

1. – https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/8289797-historic-barrie-train-station-likely-sits-on-burial-ground-indigenous-leader.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/allandale-train-station-from-the-era-of-the-grand-railway-stations/

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