Facebook Page
Old Time Trains

Proof that the Bruce area is snow country! This scene is at Laurel, just north of Orangeville where 4-4-0 woodburner 145
and men pose in a deep cut of snow in March 1896. Original photograph mounted on cardboard donated by Ernie Jones.


From the Shelburne newspaper The Economist. Reprinted 2008 as Dipping Into the Past by the Orangeville Citizen.

Thursday, February 6, 1908
The storm of Saturday and Sunday gave the railways a little taste of the conditions of four years ago, and, incidentally, a taste of what the West had to contend with last winter. Saturday night the passenger train from Owen Sound due at Shelburne at 5:14 did not reach the town until about 6:30. It started out bravely for the south and got along not so badly until the neighbourhood of Laurel was reached, when a big snow bank proved too difficult for the engine to navigate and she stuck good and solid. A weakness of the line between Shelburne and Orangeville is that there is neither telegraphic nor telephonic communications with Crombies or Laurel, so that the 12-mile stretch between Shelburne and Orangeville Junction is a pretty good puzzle when a train leaves either point and turns up at neither. However, one snow plow worked its way up from Orangeville during the night and another one down from Shelburne until they located the stalled train. In the meantime the evening train from Toronto had reached Orangeville and the passengers had the pleasure of remaining in the county metropolis at the expense of the CPR. The stalled southbound train was dug out of its difficulties Sunday night and made its way to Orangeville, reaching Toronto about 6 a.m. Monday. The line to Shelburne was clear Monday afternoon and at about 3 p.m. the first train from Toronto since Saturday pulled in. By Tuesday, the line was clear and everything running in good order again.

All the railways had their little time of it. The Teeswater train met with a mishap at Teeswater Saturday, the engine and snow plow leaving the rails at an open switch.

Mr. and Mrs. Gardner, of Niagara Falls, were blocked at Orangeville on their way to attend the funeral of their son in Grand Valley. When they found they could get no farther by train they started to drive from Orangeville, but had to turn back after going about three miles, they and their driver suffering from frost bite.

Thursday, February 13, 1908

• Last Wednesday the morning train from Toronto, due at Shelburne at
11:02 a.m. did not reach the town until 2 p.m., with the engine and
car steps covered with snow. The train, with over 40 passengers
aboard, did not get away from Shelburne until 2:10 p.m. Sunday,
Shelburne not getting another train from Toronto until Monday noon.
An attempt was made Wednesday afternoon to run an engine from
Orangeville to help to stalled train, but that brave engine stuck
fast at the north semaphore at Orangeville Junction. It took a snow
plow and three engines until Friday night to release this engine.
Then the plow got within a mile of Laurel when it had to go back to
Orangeville for the night. By Saturday night it had only got into
Crow's Cut above Laurel, about seven miles south of Shelburne.

Finally, at 10 0'clock Sunday morning, the plow pushed into Shelburne
yard and by 6 p.m. both plow and stalled train had reached Owen
Sound. Passengers on the stalled train were guests of the CPR at the
town hotels.

Shelburne had mail from the south via Orangeville by stage Friday and
Saturday and stage mail was sent to Orangeville for points south on

The Victoria Literary Society put on an impromptu program at the
school Friday night for the benefit of the passengers on the stalled
train and the Public Library reading room was thrown open for their
benefit Saturday afternoon. A couple of sleighloads of passengers
from the stalled train made their way to Orangeville on Saturday to
catch a southbound train.

• Train service into and out of Toronto was reduced by about 60% in
consequence of the various railroad lines being tied up by the snow
storm. The CPR main line east was badly blocked, there being 18 miles
of track near Locust Hill filled up with snow. A carload of shovelers
who left Guelph on Thursday morning, after fighting their way through
drifts all day, reached Toronto at 6:30 p.m. They reported that the
whole country was covered with immense waves of snow, varying in
depth to eight and 25 feet.

• The remains of the late Rev. Geo. Keyes, who died in Orangeville,
February 1, left there on the train on Wednesday, Feb. 5, for
interment in Chatsworth, but were detained in Shelburne until Monday,
Feb. 10, on account of the train getting snowed in. The placing of
his remains in the station is a reminder of other days, when the
deceased, then known as Rural Dean Keyes, of Chatsworth, and the late
Bishop Cronyn, held their first Confirmation service in connection
with is what is now known as St. Paul's Shelburne. This was in 1873
and the railway station had just been completed. It being the most
pretentious building in town, the church service was held there on
that occasion and for some time afterwards.

Thursday, February 20, 1908
Weather got at its tricks again last weekend. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday it was snow. Saturday the inevitable freeze and snow storm came along. Trees suffered. So did telegraph and telephone wires, Shelburne being shut off from the outside world Saturday. Saturday morning's passenger train came from Toronto three hours late with two engines. South of Melancthon Station as a snowbank took the outfit to its chilling embrace and kept it there until a snowplow came to the rescue Sunday forenoon. An attempt was made to run a train from Owen Sound Saturday afternoon but a drift welcomed it three miles from the Sound and a yard engine and shovellers had a circus getting it out and back to its starting point. Saturday night's train from Toronto reached Shelburne Sunday forenoon and was taken on through after the plow.
The train that had been stalled near Melancthon was taken back to Toronto. There was no telegraph communication with the south until Sunday morning, the wires being down. This in itself made the running of trains a ticklish business. Many of the passengers on the stalled train walked back to Shelburne Saturday night.

Thursday, February 27, 1908
o On Wednesday of last week another blockade commenced on the Owen Sound branch of the CPR. The morning train south did not reach Shelburne until 2 p.m. and there was no train north on that day. A train that afternoon started from Owen Sound but got stalled near Corbetton and remained there all night, the passengers passing the night in the coaches. On Thursday the snowplow from the south got through and was followed later by a passenger train which reached Shelburne at 3:30 p.m. The mixed train that had been stalled at Corbetton left Shelburne about 4:00 p.m. for the south, taking a couple of cars of livestock that had been loaded on Wednesday morning. The regular southbound evening train on Thursday , due about 5:14 p.m. did not get down until about four hours later and met the up train in Shelburne. On Friday evening the southbound passenger train arrived at 9:20 p.m. and the train for Owen Sound did not reach Shelburne until 12:30 Saturday morning, having been delayed by the snowplow getting off the track near Orangeville Junction.
o The weather this week is of the changeable variety. Sunday night was clear and cold and on Monday morning the temperature stood at 22 degrees below zero F. It was a clear and bright day but got very windy Monday night with a rise in temperature. Tuesday was warmer but it started to storm in the afternoon and continued all night. On Wednesday morning the temperature was only 2 degrees below freezing but the snow was piled up again in all directions and it looks very much like another blockade for the railway. The depth of snow at the present time beats anything on record in this locality.
o Says the Owen Sound Sun: There is indignation in Owen Sound and all the towns along this branch of the CPR at the irregularity and uncertainty of the service this winter. For the last few weeks the smallest flurry of snow would block up the road for days, while other roads - the locally branch of the GTR, for example - would continue business as usual. The CPR has apparently neglected this road with the property snow-fighting facilities, with the result that the business of the railway and the towns served by it has been demoralized for the last month. It is claimed by some that the local line is improperly manned. Early in the winter Mr. Nelson, the new division superintendent, closed up a number of stations, turning them into flag stations for the winter, and dismissed dozens of men - chiefly section men and yard hands. With so many men laid off the present siege of snow has found the road sadly crippled for help, and those in charge without the proper number of hands to keep the road open. There appears to be no definite organization for snow fighting at this end of the line, and most of the work has been done by crews from the south. A snowplow should be kept constantly in Owen Sound in readiness for service. The businessmen of Owen Sound and towns along the line are certainly justified in making complaints of the train service this winter.

More blockades disrupted service on CPR line

100 YEARS AGO Thursday, March 5, 1908
o A prediction last issue that another blockade was almost certain was correct. The noon train north on Wednesday was the last to arrive until Thursday evening, February 27. The train that left Owen Sound on Wednesday afternoon for Toronto went into the siding at Corbetton to let the snow plow pass. Astock train going south with 13 cars of cattle, pigs and horses, was stuck at Shelburne station. The snow plow got stuck the same afternoon near Laurel, so there was a complete tieup until Thursday evening. The stalled plow was liberated by another plow from the south and five engines on Thursday afternoon, and the latter arrived here at 5:40 the same evening. Shortly afterwards the passenger train arrived and went through to Owen Sound. The train that was stuck at Corbetton arrived at Shelburne at 7 p.m. and continued the trip to Toronto. The stock train went south the same night. The storm on Sunday caused another tieup, and no trains arrived in Shelburne until Monday night.


Back (Use your browser Back button)

Old Time Trains © 2009