The Train Station
In 1884, the Ontario Legislature granted the T.H. & B. Railway Company the right to build a rail line from Toronto to Buffalo. At that time having a railway was a great boon to a town, as it furnished a link to nearby cities, facilitating shopping for the residents and transportation of farm products to city markets. Robert Murgatroyd Sr. became a provisional Director of the railway and worked hard to have it come through Smithville, rather than north of the town, as originally planned.
A station was built and, in 1895, the first train stopped in Smithville. Unfortunately, this station was struck by lightning and burned, so the present one was built about 1903.
This station is typical of the style built at that time. Elizabeth A. Wulmot, in her book “Meet Me At The Station” describes it as “the exquisite little railway station in Smithville with its Hansel and Gretel quality, has the appearance of an illustration from the pages of a child’s fairy-tale book…. This is possibly the most decorative station in the Niagara Peninsula, certainly the most whimsical ever built by the T.H. & B. Company.”
To many older residents of the area, sitting on the benches along the walls of the waiting room with heat radiating from the pot-belly stove in the middle of the room, the odour of the oiled wooden floor and the tapping of the telegraph in the station agent’s office are poignant memories.
The agent had his desk in the operator’s bay, where he could see down the tracks in both directions. When the train appeared in the distance someone would announce “Here she comes!” and the passengers would gather up their suitcases, market baskets and parcels ready to climb on board. For over a hundred years this rail line has been a link to the world, and this building has served for most of those years. During two World Wars servicemen left from here. This was where many new families immigrating to Canada stepped from the train to begin a new life.
Its role as a passenger station ended in 1981. Then it was sadly neglected until, in 1990 the West Lincoln Council purchased the station and property from Canadian Pacific. They then moved the building back from the railway right-of-way, and placed it on a good basement. The Local Architecture Conservation Advisory Committee arranged to have it provincially designated as of historical and architectural significance.
The West Lincoln Historical society had long urged the preservation and restoration of the Station. So in December of 1993 the W.L.H.S. bought the building, with its lot, from Township of West Lincoln for a nominal sum. Using the profits from their book publication, generous donations from local organizations, businesses and individuals, and work of skilled and dedicated volunteers, the Society has restored the 1903 railway station to its original beauty.
On June 28, 1997 a Plaque for designation was presented by West Lincoln Township Heritage Committee and on November 29, 1997 the Official opening of the restored railway station took place.