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Back on Track
The Beginnings of Rail in Owen Sound
Curated by: Neil Garneau. Displayed: 2001 - 2003
May, 2001 to December, 2003
History of the Canadian National Railway Station
The Museum's collection is housed in the former Canadian National Railway (CNR) Station. Originally the site of the Grand Trunk Railway Station built in 1894, this station was constructed in 1932 when the CNR absorbed the Grand Trunk Railway. Passengers boarded trains from the Owen Sound station until November 1, 1970 when passenger service was discontinued and the last passenger train pulled out.
Passengers waited for their trains in the waiting room that is now the current location of the tourist information centre. The Museum's front room was the office section of the CNR station. The station agent managed the station and conducted his affairs from the office where the door still bears the sign, "AGENT".
The large table in front of the recently-uncovered windows was the post of the telegraph operators during the 1930s and 40s. Not only did the operators send and receive messages in Morse Code, their job included keeping an eye on the trains and their movements through the generously-sized windows.
Displayed in the "Back on Track" exhibit are two original glass shades, the "Owen Sound" signs which once hung on the bunkhouse, a photo of the station, the schematic of the station and the original telegraphers' table, view included.
History of the Railway in Owen Sound
In 1869, work began in Toronto on a Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway line that eventually terminated in Owen Sound. It wasn't until July, 1873 that the line reached Owen Sound and ten years later, the Canadian Pacific Railway took control of the smaller Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway. This line remained the only rail line running into Owen Sound for 21 years.
When the Portland Cement manufacturing plant was established in Shallow Lake, the Grand Trunk Railway extended a line into Owen Sound from Park Head on their Stratford-Wiarton route.
A schematic chart of Grand Trunk properties, original photos of the original CPR, Grand Trunk and CNR stations plus a model of the CN station are among the historical items included in the exhibit.
Communications on the Railway
Communications on the railway have evolved over the passage of time. Telegraphs using Morse Code were the first form of communication, sending messages from one station to another. As technology improved, the teletypewriter replaced the telegraph and, eventually, the teletypewriter was replaced by the fax machine.
Communication was required from trains to stations as well trains to trains. Both visual and auditory signals were used as communication devices. Visual signals were done by the use of a hand, lamp, flag and electric light signals. Auditory signals included the whistle of a train.
Included in the exhibit are telegraph equipment, telegraphs, teletypewriters, a train order hoop, flags and rail lanterns.