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 The Grand Trunk Railway/Canadian National Railway Dundas Station

The Grand Trunk Railway/Canadian National Railway Dundas Station

Opened in May 1901 by the Grand Trunk Railway to replace the earlier station built by the Great Western Railway, this station was in use by the GTR and later the Canadian National Railway for over 70 years.

Dundas station would be the site of a horrific train wreck on Christmas Day, 1934. At 9 PM an eastbound CNR holiday special passenger train pulled onto the siding just to the east of Dundas station with an overheated crank-pin on locomotive CNR #5300. Brakeman Edward Lynch was walking down the line towards Dundas station to telegraph for a replacement engine when CN train #16 pulled by CNR #6146 rounded the curve in the distance. Thinking that his train had stopped on the main line and not on the siding, Lynch ran to the switch and threw it with the intent that the oncoming train would take the siding and go around Lynch's train. Train #16 crashed into the back of the holiday special, crushing the two wooden cars at the end of the train, killing 15 people and injuring 32.

During the 1960s Dundas station saw a surge in use. Dundas sits on CN’s Toronto-London-Windsor-Chicago mainline. In the past most passenger trains headed east or west between Toronto and southwest Ontario would divert into Hamilton from Bayview Junction, load/unload passengers, and then run in reverse back out to the mainline. This detour would add up to 40 minutes to a train’s running time. The opening of Hwy 401 cut driving time between Toronto and cities to the southwest by so much that CN decided that the only way it could remain competitive was to reduce travel times, and the fastest way to do that was to remove the Hamilton detour. Starting in April 1962, most of the passenger trains along the Toronto-London-Windsor-Chicago mainline would not stop in Hamilton. As of October 1967, none of them would. This meant that Hamiltonians wanting to take the train would have to go to Dundas station, and demand for such trips was high enough that Canada Coach Lines created a shuttle route between Dundas station and Downtown Hamilton. Dundas was also convenient for students attending McMaster University.

However by the start of the 1970s, the station had begun to deteriorate due to age. While CN continued to serve Dundas, starting in 1972 the station was used only as a waiting room with no ticket or baggage services, CN preferring to sell train tickets to passengers when they boarded the trains. This was continued by Via Rail when they took over passenger rail in Canada in 1978. Via Rail did not take ownership of the station from CN, and by the early 1980s vandalism had become a problem, with numerous station windows broken and boarded up

On September 27 1984 a fire, most likely arson, broke out in the station, destroying the waiting room and part of the roof. The station was closed and Via Rail installed a large bus shelter for passengers. On November 26 CN offered to sell the station to the town of Dundas for $1 on the condition that the fire damaged station be moved off of CN property. This condition was too costly for the Dundas Museum to meet at the time, and so the offer was rejected.

Shortly after CN announced their intention to demolish the damaged station. The Dundas Heritage Association attempted to save the station by raising $100,000 to restore it, and was able to come to a deal with CN to halt the demolition plan. Plans were set in the Fall of 1987 to dismantle the station and relocate it to York Rd on land owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens, with the possibility that Via Rail passenger trains would use the restored station at its new site.

On November 20, 1987 arsonists struck again, setting the station on fire. In December while being dismantled an error by the construction crew resulted in the improper removal of a load bearing wall, causing catastrophic structural collapse. The ruined station was subsequently burned. Via Rail would continue to use the now vacant site as a passenger stop until May 24, 1992, when passenger services at Dundas, Burlington & Hamilton were consolidated at the new Aldershot station.

GTR #344 at Dundas Station

GTR #344 at Dundas station. From an unused postcard

Photo postcard of Dundas station the earliest postmark found on this card is June 27, 1910.

Photo postcard of Dundas station. The earliest postmark found on this card is June 27, 1910.

Postcard of Dundas station. The earliest postmark found on this card is October 14, 1926.

Postcard of Dundas station. The earliest postmark found on this card is October 14, 1926. Notice that at some point in the 1920s the station roof was replaced.

CNR #4532 in front of Dundas station, July 11 1959.

CNR #4532 in front of Dundas station, July 11 1959. (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives, used with permission)

CCL #1947 at the Dundas train station in February 1973.

CCL #1947 at the Dundas train station in February 1973. (Photo by Michael Taylor, used with permission)

Dundas station, 1976.

Dundas station, 1976. (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives, used with permission)

CN #4577 leads a freight train past Dundas station in June 1976

CN #4577 leads a freight train past Dundas station in June 1976. Because of the spectacular scenery of Dundas Peak to the east of the station, most photos of the station are taken from the west. (Photo by A. W. Mooney, used with permission)

Via Rail #6781 & #6865 at the head of train #72 at Dundas station, November 28 1979.

Via Rail #6781 & #6865 at the head of train #72 at Dundas station, November 28 1979. A nice view of the north side of the station and the station sidings. (Photo by A. W. Mooney, used with permission)

Via Rail #6758 at the head of train #75 at Dundas station, April 28 1985.

Via Rail #6758 at the head of train #75 at Dundas station, April 28 1985. Here you can clearly see the damage caused by the fire the previous September, the station all boarded up, and the temporary shelter put up by Via Rail. (Photo by A. W. Mooney, used with permission)

Sources

The Globe
"Is Edward Lynch Hero or Culprit? World Asks Which" December 28, 1934, pg 1

The Globe & Mail
Marron, Kevin "Preservation attempt destroys rail station" January 1, 1988, pg A11

Hamilton Times
"G.T.R. Dundas Improvements" May 13, 1901 pg 8

Upper Canada Railway Society Newsletter
November 1980, pg 8
July 1982, pg 16
"CN Dundas Station Partially Destroyed by Fire" November 1984, pg 11
January 1985, pg 10
"CN Dundas Station" September 1985, pg 19
"Hamilton Chapter News" February 1986, pg 16
"Canadian National" November 1987, pg 13
"Canadian National" January 1988, pg 15
"Station Closure" May 1992, pg 14