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 TH&B Hamilton Station

TH&B's Hamilton Station

The Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo's first Hamilton station was located on the northeast corner of James and Hunter on the north side of the TH&B's main line running at grade along Hunter Street, just east of the Hunter Street Tunnel. The station was designed by the architectural firm of Wm Stewart & Son, with Walter Stewart acting as project architect. Three stories in height with a four storey tower on the SW corner, the ground floor held all passenger related facilities, such as waiting rooms, ticket office, baggage and mail room, news stand, etc. The second and third floors held the offices for railway staff and officials. The building's upper stories were covered with brick, with Credit Valley Brown Stone on the ground floor.

The site was announced on May 21, 1895. At the time, the site was the home of the Salvation Army as well as several houses. The plans were approved and tenders called for on June 1, with construction beginning on June 12. Final completion was originally scheduled for August 23, but delays including a stonemason's strike on August 24 due to unpaid wages pushed the completion date to the end of the year.

The TH&B's Hamilton station opened on December 28, 1895, with the start of passenger service through the Hunter St tunnel to Brantford to the west, and up the escarpment to Welland and Buffalo to the east. The first ticket agent at the station was H. F. Latham. A connection built in 1897 alongside Cootes Paradise between the TH&B at Dundurn and the Grand Trunk Railway at the Desjardin Canal allowed for trains to travel between Hamilton and Toronto via the GTR, which the CPR (one of the TH&B's owners) had running rights over. By 1900 the station would see 26 trains stopping daily. The number of passengers and trains would continue to grow, including numerous troop trains during World War I.

The TH&B's Hamilton station would eventually fall victim to the TH&B's own success. As passenger and freight traffic grew, long and frequent trains on the TH&B's at grade mainline soon proved to be troublesome, as complaints about noise and soot quickly mounted. With the advent of the automobile, and the TH&B’s trains blocking traffic, pressure mounted for a separation of road and rail.

In the 1910’s, the city of Hamilton attempted to convince the federal government’s Board of Railway Commissioners (the BRC) to have the TH&B tracks along Hunter Street abandoned, and to have the Grand Trunk allow the TH&B to run on their tracks along the waterfront. This was later squashed in the courts, but the message was clear. The TH&B began drawing up plans to elevate the tracks above the surrounding land. As the Hamilton station was immediately adjacent to the main line, it would have to be replaced.

As World War I progressed, the TH&B acquired property on the south side of Hunter Street, for both the construction of elevated tracks and a new station. As the 1920’s wore on, arguments between the city of Hamilton and the TH&B dragged on, until an agreement on the closing of several streets and the construction of elevated trackwork was signed on October 20, 1930. Construction began the following April on the grade separation, and was completed on December 3. For the next eighteen months, passengers would move between the elevated tracks and the Hamilton station via a temporary wooden staircase. With the opening of the TH&B's new station on Hunter street on June 26, 1933, the original TH&B Hamilton station was closed, and demolished shortly after. The station is commemorated by a historical plaque on the site.

(All photos © Tom Luton, except where noted)

Closeup of the platform of the TH&B Hamilton Station. From a postcard dated April 27, 1907.

Closeup of the platform of the TH&B Hamilton Station. The earliest postmark found for this card is April 27, 1907.

The TH&B Hamilton Station.

The TH&B Hamilton Station The earliest postmark found for this card is 1908. The locomotive is a 4-4-0, so it could be TH&B #1-5 or 12

The TH&B Hamilton Station.

The TH&B Hamilton Station. The earliest postmark found for this card is August 23, 1906.

The TH&B Hamilton Station.

The TH&B Hamilton Station. The earliest postmark found for this card is September 27, 1910.

The TH&B Hamilton Station.

The TH&B Hamilton Station, from an unused postcard

CPR #529 exits the Hunter St Tunnel

Canadian Pacific Railway #529 exits the Hunter St Tunnel and approaches the TH&B Hamilton station behind the photographer. The earliest postmark found for this card is 1907.

This aerial photo dated September 7, 1922 shows the TH&B's Hamilton station right next to the plane's wing

This aerial photo dated September 7, 1922 shows the TH&B's Hamilton station right next to the plane's wing. (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives)

The brand new James St Station

View of the station from Hughson & Hunter in 1926. (Photo courtesy of the The Archives of Ontario Visual Database (The C.P.R. Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway station, Hamilton [1926] (Archives of Ontario, C 7-3, 20475)))

The front of the historical plaque describing the TH&B, located on the site of the former TH&B Hamilton station

The front of the historical plaque describing the TH&B, located on the site of the former TH&B Hamilton station

The reverse of the historical plaque

The reverse of the historical plaque

Sources

Hamilton Spectator

“The TH&B Station - Stewart & Son are to Prepare the Plans-To be Built by Sept 1” May 8, 1895, pg 5
“The TH&B Station Site - North side of Hunter Street between James and Hughson” May 21, 1895, pg 1
“To be Built in Ten Weeks - Description of the TH&B's New Station” June 5, 1895, pg 8
“The Contract is Awarded - Work on the TH&B Station to begin Tomorrow” June 11, 1895, pg 1
“Getting Options on Property - The TH&B May Buy the Land East of the Station Site” June 28, 1895, pg 1
“The TH&B Station - Something about the Interior of the New Building” November 19, 1895, pg 1
“Blow the Loud Bazzoo! - First Passenger train Through the TH&B Tunnel” December 30, 1895, pg 5

Helm, Norman. In the Shadow of Giants: The Story of the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway/2 Toronto: Preston House Publishers, 1996