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 The HG&B Hamilton Station

The HG&B Hamilton Station

Originally, the Hamilton Grimsby & Beamsville was to have two stations in central Hamilton: one downtown, and one adjacent to the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) Station at Stuart and Caroline. The Hamilton Street Railway's universal franchise to run streetcars in the City of Hamilton resulted in the section of the HG&B between the Stuart St station and the downtown never being built. However, the HSR was willing to allow a line that ended downtown, and the HG&B's decided on a Hamilton station located at Main St E and Catherine St.

Rather than built a new station the HG&B decided to renovate an existing building, one that already had a large open area inside: The former Royal roller skating rink. The architectural firm of Stewart & Son was in charge of redesigning the former rink. The 160 x 70 ft station had a 30 ft square waiting room, a parcel room for mail, as well as offices and room for fruit storage. Two tracks entered the station from Main St, and the building was capable of storing 5 or 6 cars with the doors shut.

However, when the HG&B began service between Hamilton & Grimsby on October 17, 1894, The Hamilton terminus was at the end of the tracks on Main St at Emerald St. On November 26 this would be moved westwards to Ferguson & Main. Difficulties in negotiating with the GTR over crossing their tracks at Ferguson meant that renovations to the Royal Rink did not begin until May 16, 1895, with completion of the renovations occurring in mid June. With the completion of the station and the new trackwork and overhead, service began operating for a few days from James & Main before moving to Catharine St on July 20, 1895.

One of the purposes of the HG&B was to transport food from farms on the Niagara Peninsula to Hamilton. To that end, the Hamilton General Fruit and Produce Market officially opened to the public at the HG&B Hamilton station in space leased from the HG&B on August 22, selling Fruit, vegetables and meat hauled into Hamilton by the HG&B. (The market had begun operations as a wholesaler when the station opened)

With the opening of the Hamilton Terminal Station in 1907, the old HG&B station in Hamilton became the Hamilton freight station for all of the Cataract Company's Radials. The freight station burned down on July 6, 1913, fueled by several large barrels of gasoline stored inside the building. Losses were estimated at $75 000, including the station, goods, and several cars.

The freight station was rebuilt on the same site, but declining revenues resulted in the Hamilton freight station being closed in 1926 and demolished shortly after.

The HG&B's Hamilton Station at Main & Catherine in the summer of 1895

The HG&B's Hamilton Station at Main & Catherine in the summer of 1895, with trailer #10. Originally the Royal Rink, it was rebuilt into the HG&B's Hamilton Station and opened on July 20, 1895. It was destroyed by fire on July 6, 1913. (Photo published in October 1895 as part of the Souvenir Edition of the Street Railway Journal, printed for the American Street Railway Association's annual meeting in Montreal, available online from Archive.org)

This is an advertisement for the HG&B's 1901 season.

This is an advertisement for the HG&B's 1901 season, showing the HG&B's Hamilton station along with HG&B car 'Winona' (Photo courtesy of the Reference Department, Niagara Falls Public Library, used with permission)

Remains of Hamilton freight station

The remains of the Hamilton freight station after the fire, looking south from a neighbouring building. Photo from the Archives of Ontario, L 23 Newspapers, N 184 reel 191, Hamilton Spectator, July 7 1913, pg 1.