Print this Post

Halton County Radial Railway Museum brings public transit history to life

August 2022

The Halton County Radial Railway Museum, located in rural Halton Hills, Ontario, is a working museum; Ontario’s first and largest electric railway museum, dedicated to showcasing the history of urban and inter-urban public transit in Ontario. Operated by the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association (OERHA), it focuses mainly on the history of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and its predecessor, the Toronto Transportation Commission.

Opened in 1972, on land that was once part of the Toronto Suburban Railway line in Nassagaweya Township, the museum features a large collection of electric streetcars, trolley cars, subway cars, buses, and other railway vehicles. A collection of photographs, memorabilia and archival materials is also maintained by the staff of dedicated volunteers.

This was the culmination of a dream of the OERHA, which had been formed in 1953, with the intention of saving TTC streetcar #1326 from being scrapped. Over the years, a growing number of other street and radial cars were similarly rescued and restored on-site, in a large workshop by volunteer maintainers.

Most of the museum’s collection is on static display inside a large rail barn, but selected cars are used to take visitors on a short scenic ride along a two kilometre section of track, set at the TTC standard track gauge of 4 feet, 10+7⁄8 inches. Visitors get on and off at the former Canadian National (CN) Railways Rockwood station.

Originally built in 1912 for the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) and situated in the Village of Rockwood, five miles north of the museum property, it became part of CN Railways in 1923, after the bankruptcy of the GTR. It was briefly used by the provincially-operated GO Transit, before closing in 1971. The station was then moved to the museum property.

At the other end of the site-seeing ride, visitors get off at a small, open shelter that was once the Meadowvale stop along the Toronto Suburban line.  Visitors can relax in the small rock garden while waiting for half an hour for the return trip, or buy an ice cream cone at the East End Cafe, inside a restored TTC streetcar #4618, originally built in 1951.

A visitor centre at the main entrance sells souvenirs, along with food and drinks. Both the visitor centre and the Rockwood station can be booked for private events, weddings, engagements parties and other special events. A number of film shoots have taken place at the museum over the years.

As stated on the museum’s web site:

“Since the beginning, the vision of the HCRR was to inform, educate and inspire the public about the electric railway history of Ontario and Canada. Today, the museum displays and operates a variety of historic streetcars, radial cars and work cars, and maintains a collection of photographs, memorabilia and archival materials. The oldest rail car in the collection dates from the late 1800s.”

The OERHA is a non-profit, educational organization.

Sources: Halton County Railway Museum – Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association (hcry.org), Halton County Radial Railway – Wikipedia, TTC tram converted to ice cream cafe – Picture of Halton County Radial Railway, Milton – Tripadvisor, HALTON COUNTY RADIAL RAILWAY – 153 Photos & 10 Reviews – Museums – 13629 Guelph Line, Milton, ON – Phone Number – Yelp.

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/halton-county-radial-railway-museum-brings-public-transit-history-to-life/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>