Hello and welcome to the CFRHS’s Railway Heritage Walkway located in the village of Sharbot Lake, Ontario. This is a virtual tour that provides additional information, stories and history on some of the plaques that are along the Railway Heritage Walkway.
The tour starts at the former site of the Highway 38 overpass just east of the village and continues to the Wye, located just south of the steel bridge on the causeway. The walkway is approximately 2 kilometers long.
So, if you’re ever in the village of Sharbot Lake, we invite you to take a leisurely stroll along the Railway Heritage Walkway. Step into the past and learn something of Sharbot Lake’s unique railway heritage. For now, please enjoy this virtual tour. We will start this virtual walking tour at Plaque 1, the Highway 38 Overpass.
The image on Plaque 1 is from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The inset on the sign is an aerial view of Sharbot Lake showing the location of the overpass and the level crossing it replaced.
We now head west, just down the tracks to Plaque 2, the Water Tower. It will be on your right. As we walk along the Walkway, to your left is the location of one of the village’s saw mills: Saunders Mill. It operated from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.
There were two mills. The first mill was located at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Garrett Street. Some of the concrete foundations can still be found there. It was destroyed by fire. The second mill, built closer to the tracks, was also destroyed by fire circa 1950.
If you have reached the Water Tower sign, you are now in our Railway Heritage Park. We have a lot of displays inside the caboose and some static displays on the tracks. Most of the static display items can be found here:
We are currently working on signs for each item to provide a brief description of it’s function.
Plaque 2 – the Water Tower. So far, we have not found any information on the date that the water tower was built. It replaced a wooden water tower. The date of the wooden water tower construction is also unknown but it was probably built when the O&QR went through in 1884.
The water tower was removed in 1964 by local business man M.D. Snell. It was placed on a railway flat car and a locomotive, in the village that day, pulled the flat car, on the old KP rail line, until it was clear that a rock cut was impassible.
The rock cut was opened up so the flat car could continue on through the rock cut.
The flat car reached the overpass on Highway 7. From here it was hauled up the hill and moved to Snell’s Cedar Post and Lumber yard located on Highway 7.
There, it was re-purposed as an incinerator burning waste wood from the cedar post operation. The water tower move has an interesting story. It was documented, with photos, by Murray Snell and is available on the CFRHS web page.
Almost directly across from Plaque 2 and a slightly to the right, Plaque 3, marks the location of the stock pen.
When the cattle car was full, another car was moved into position using a car mover, an ingenious device that allowed a single person to move a car manually. The CFRHS has a car mover in our collection of railway items.
Continuing the journey west, we come to what could be said, in the golden days of the railway, was the commercial hub of the village. At the centre of everything was the new railway station. Nearby there was a hotel, stores, a livery stable, warehouses and a doctor’s office. At one time 18 trains a day visited Sharbot Lake. Mail, freight and passengers arrived daily.
Plaque 4, the largest of the twelve signs, marks the location of the second station. It is a collage of images that show the station over the decades. When the trains quit running in 1966, the C.P.R. closed the station and it was torn down in 1970.
The employees in the second picture from the right are: Peter Crowman (agent), Herb Roberts (pump man), Harry Roche (operator), Delmar Hunt (operator), J. Roche (baggage man), Grattan Robinson (operator), Martin Ryan (baggage man), Tom Willis (car man), and William Milliken (switch man).
Below is a colour photo taken in 1970 of the demolition of the station.
Nearby, Plaque 5, marks the location of the Pump House, one of the least understood buildings on the CPR lands.
A K&P steam locomotive takes on water at Sharbot Lake
Below is a photo taken in the 1940’s. A bit more of the structure of the pump house can be seen in this photo. The men are gathered in front of the pump house after a long day of shovelling snow.
The men in the photo are:
Top row, left to right.
The man behind the telegraph pole,?, Tom Badour, Nelson Kimberly, Scotty Meldrum, Keith Sullivan, Donald Denny, Earl Dixon, Keith Hawley, Cecil Commodore, Dick Bonner, Bob England, Herb Campbell, Leroy Badour, Ken Yateman, Ron Whan, Archie Riddle, Guy Bonner.
Bottom row, left to right.
Art Antoine, Merv England, Norm McCrimmon, Pete Neilson, Jimmy Kirkham, Orville York.
Sharbot Lake was the junction of two railways: the Ontario and Quebec Railway (O&QR) and the Kingston and Pembroke Railway (K&P). The Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) would eventually own or lease both railways.
At Plaque 6, the K&P railroad, referred to affectionately as the Kick and Push, heads north, not to Pembroke however, but to Renfrew. The photo on the plaque was provided by Robert Sandusky, a noted railroad photographer and railroad enthusiast.
Plaque 7, marks the location of the former Union Hotel. The name commemorates the two railways; the O&QR and the K&PR. It was built between 1889-1894 after the K&P’s grand Sharbot Lake Hotel, a three-story brick building, located in the old village, burned down in late December 1888.
As mentioned on the plaque, the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1974. It was never rebuilt. The site was purchased by local citizens and donated to the township and named the Glenn Fossey Park after local resident and community supporter Glenn Fossey.
Over the years, the hotel was owned and operated by many hoteliers.
Past Owners and Operators
- 1894 – 1905 – Harry Roberts, operated by Harry Sargeant
- 1905 – 1907 – Doyle’s
- 1907 – 1910 – Blair’s
- 1910 – 1918 – Thomas Munroe
- 1918 – 1919 – George Fair
- 1920 – 1923 – Harry Sargeant
- 1923 – 1926 – Harry and Otto Sargeant
- 1927 – 1928 – Herbert Gordon
- 1929 – E.B. Buell and Wesley Thomlinson
- 1930 – E.B. Buell and Harry Thompson
- 1931 – 1936 – Thomas Munroe
- 1937 – 1938 – Mrs. Lucy Hornbeck
- 1938 – 1939 – Hornbeck’s
- 1939 – 1945 – Bryan Hawley
- 1945 – 1946 – Mrs. Gertrude Roberts
- 1946 – 1970 – Herb Moyst
- 1971 – 1974 – John and Marg Campeau
On the CFRHS web page you can read an interesting story from a Joe the porter who worked at the Union Hotel, https://kickandpushca.wordpress.com/railroad-stories-past-and-present/.
Just past the government dock, we come to Plaque 8 on the right. It describes how train movement was managed.
Train orders were typed or handwritten on thin onionskin paper called ‘flimsies’. Below is a C.P.R. sample train order using Form 19Y. The other form used was Form 31.
A train did not have to stop to receive the order but needed only to slow for it to be passed (hooped up) to the Engineer and Conductor. The Operator attached the paper train order to a hoop made of wood bent into a “P” shape. The Operator would prepare two hoops then stand on the station platform during a train’s approach. Holding the bottom part of the hoop the Operator would extend the loop portion high enough for the Engineer or Fireman to insert his arm into the loop taking it as the train passed. The Engineer or Fireman would remove the paper order and drop the hoop back on the ground. The CFRHS has a hoop in our collection of railroad items.
The amazing colour photo below was provided through the courtesy of Robert Sandusky. This semaphore is the large gantry type.
Below is concrete foundation for the signal box for the semaphore shown above.
On the right just before we enter Thomsson’s Cut, you will see a boat house. This was the location of Thomson’s mill. As early as 1877 logs were being shipped by rail from Sharbot Lake. A siding ran into the saw mill yard to make loading and unloading easier.
Heading west and south down the Railway Heritage Walkway, we pass through Thomson’s cut. As you walk through, you will see drill holes left when the K&P blasted their way through. Below is one of the many drill holes visible in the rock cut.
Continuing west, and on the left, we find the next plaque, Plaque 9. It stands where Sharbot Lake’s first railway station was located. The photo is looking north. The station was built circa 1878. There are two possible fates (maybe more) of the old station. One is mentioned on the plaque. The other story is it was converted to a store.
Finally, we arrive at the railway causeway. On the right, just past the medical center, Plaque 10, is dedicated to Chancy Benton, a K&P foreman who died here May 5, 1877 as a result of a tragic accident.
After Chancy’s accident, his wife, Hannah and their three children, Mellie, Frederick, and May Flower, returned to Munnsville, New York. More information is available on the Benton family on the CFRHS web page:
Our journey is almost over. Plaque 11 is a photo of the causeway circa 1927. It’s from the Harry Hinchley Collection retrieved from Public Archives Canada. In November 1874, newspapers reported, “At Sharbot Lake sixty men are at work with twenty-four horses, the dump extends 250 feet in the lake”. The track on the right (east) is the KP line. The left (west) track is the C.P.R. line. A C.P.R. steam locomotive, headed for Toronto, is crossing the causeway.
Cornerstone on the concrete abutment at the bridge.
Other photos of the causeway can be viewed at:
At last, we’ve reached the end of the Railway Heritage Walkway. Plaque 12 marks the location of the Wye and describes its purpose. The branch to the left is the K&P line. The branch on the right is the C.P.R. line.
The Wye replaced a turntable located in what was then called Slabtown (Doranville). Doranville is located north of the highway 38 overpass and just before the high school. The name Doranville is slowly disappearing from local use as is the name Ungava. Ungava is a passing track just past the Fall River Road. There was also an actinolite mine located here but it was soon depleted.
You can read more about the turntable on our web page as told by Jimmy Allen:
If you take a few more steps down the C.P.R side, you will eventually see on your left, the connecting track that joins the C.P.R. line to the K.P. line completing the triangular formation of the wye.
Well, that’s it for the tour. Hope you enjoyed it!
If you have any questions or would like more information please visit our web page:
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