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The Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway

The Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway

Location: The Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway was constructed within south-central Ontario, with the main line extending between the communities of Guelph and Southampton on the shores of Lake Huron, and a branch line that was built from Palmerston west to Kincardine.

History: The Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway (WG&BR) was originally conceived as the Canada North-West Railway Company with its incorporation in May 1856 to construct a line from Southampton on Lake Huron southeast to Toronto on Lake Ontario. The intention was to create a shorter route of trade between the two communities and those it joined, in addition to establishing a through route to the west in conjunction with Great Lake steamer connections. The project as well included the construction of a branch line to Owen Sound and a connection with the Grand Trunk Railway at Guelph. Five years later, the charter lapsed after no construction had taken place, but was revived as the Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway in June 1864 with support from many local people and politicians. Provisions within the amending document allowed for a change in the terminus to Guelph and the ability to merge with the Great Western Railway (GWR).

Once enough subsidies had been collected from adjoining townships and communities, construction commenced in June 1867. Work progressed slowly as the line now had competition in the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway for further funding sources. In June of 1869, lease arrangements were made with the GWR to supply equipment and rolling stock, and for operation. The line was finally open for traffic from Guelph to Harriston, a distance of 49 miles, in October 1871. That same year, permission had been granted to construct a branch line to Kincardine. The remainder of the mainline to Southampton was completed in December 1872 while work on the new Kincardine branch, leading from Palmerston through Listowel, was initiated. Its route was not direct as a result of the haphazard final dispersement of subsidies by area communities. While the branch was ready for traffic as of November 1873, the line sat unused until December 1874 pending the settlement of funds between the contractor and the WG&B. The proposed branches form Clifford to Durham and Kincardine to Owen Sound were never completed. The company eventually became part of the Grand Trunk system with that company's purchase of the Great Western in August 1882, disappearing as a corporate entity in 1893.

Approximate Mileage: The mainline from Guelph to Southampton was approximately 105 miles long while the branch line from Palmerston to Kincardine was 66 miles long.

Current Status: The mainline under Canadian National ownership became part of the Fergus, Owen Sound and Southampton Subdivisions. The mainline has been abandoned in the following manner: Fergus to Palmerston August 1983, Harriston Jct. to Port Elgin and into Southampton in 1988, Guelph to Fergus 1988, and from Palmerston to Harriston 1995. The branch line became part of the Newton and Kincardine Subdivisions. It was abandoned as follows: from Wingham to Kincardine August 1983, Listowel to Wingham 1991, and from Palmerston to Listowel 1995. In 1971, a branch line was constructed from Port Elgin west to Douglas Point to assist in the construction of the Bruce Nuclear Plant. It was abandoned in 1988.

Principle Stations: Mainline stations include Guelph, Elora, Fergus, Drayton, Palmerston, Harriston, Clifford, Mildmay, Paisley, Port Elgin and Southampton. Branch line stations include Palmerston, Listowel, Brussels, Wingham, Lucknow, Ripley and Kincardine.

Remaining Stations: There are a total of nine stations remaining along the WG&B line. They are as follows:
1. Palmerston: In original location on William Street, currently vacant.
2. Harriston: In original location at corner of Hwy # 89 and Arthur Street as a senior citizen centre.
3. Cargil: Moved to property on Bruce County Rd.# 3 as a private residence.
4. Eden Grove: Moved to property nearby as a garage or storage building, details unknown.
5. Southampton: In original location at Morpeth and Grovener Streets as a restaurant.
6. Listowel: In original location at Victoria and Binning Streets as the Kinsmen Club seniors centre.
7. Atwood: Moved to property near Moncton as a private residence, details unknown.
8. Brussels: Moved to fairgrounds on Turnberry Street as a lawn bowling club building.
9. Wingham: In original location at Josephine Street, leased office space.

Last Updated: December 30, 1997

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