Monday, July 29, 2013

Ride the Rails at the Halton County Radial Railway

Did you know that about an hour's drive from Toronto is a hidden gem for rail enthusiasts? We had no idea until this past weekend when my family visited the Halton County Radial Railway.



History:


Back in 1953, 5 friends from Toronto, all transit enthusiasts, couldn't bear to see an old streetcar go to the scrapyard.  They agreed to pay $1 to purchase Streetcar 1326 but the purchase came with a condition, the friends had to take Streetcar 2210 as well. The friends felt proud to have saved these pieces of transit history and the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association (OERHA) was formed.  But alas, streetcars are not small.  They had managed to save the streetcars but where would they to house them?  That brings us to a piece of land just outside of Rockwood Ontario and answers the question as to why a Toronto streetcar museum isn't found in Toronto.

The original streetcar purchased for $1 in 1953


Home to an original portion of the Toronto Suburban Railway (TSR) track that once connected Guelph to Toronto, it was the perfect location for the Halton County Radial Railway, a museum dedicated to the preservation, restoration and display of electric railway related objects and a whole lot of cool trains and streetcars.




Take a Ride:


Because the museum is housed along abandoned TSR track, they are able to offer daily rides all year long to visitors.  Rail enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy the 20 minute ride along the 2 km of track.  Of course the highlight for many is the arrival at the museum's very own ice cream shop.


Admission includes unlimited streetcar rides, access to the display barns and the historic Rockwood Station. With picnic tables on site, you can pack a picnic lunch or purchase snacks.  Visitors can also find railway inspired souvenirs in their gift shops.

Favourites:


We all had our favourite things.  For me it was the amazing restoration, right down to the advertisements lining the car walls.  The beautiful wood details have been perfectly preserved and hearken back to a time when travel was a luxury and when people got dressed up to go out.    

Do you think the TTC will go back to these fares?

For the kids it was the opportunity to explore.  They were able to climb aboard the rail cars, pretend they were the ticket seller in the station, ring the bell to count the passengers and step back in time.


For my husband it was the history.  We had an amazing tour from Mac, the most knowledgeable 18 year old I've ever met.  His stories brought the trains to life and really gave us insight into their historical significance.


Special Events:


 The Halton County Radial Railway hosts special events throughout the season.  Two that stuck out for us were the Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas on the Rails.

My family is excited to go back and experience the magic of the railway in a snowy setting this December and hopefully catch a glimpse of Santa along the way.

Final Notes:

The Halton County Radial Railway offers birthday party packages, wedding photography, group and school bookings.  Just refer to their website for rates and information.

If you have a rail enthusiasts in your family and are looking for a fun outing, then you should really make the trip the to Halton County Radial Railway.  The drive along Guelph Line is beautiful and direct from Toronto and surrounding areas.  An average visit lasts 1.5 - 2 hours but if your little engineer wants to ride the rails over and over, you are welcome to do so.

All aboard!

2 comments :

  1. That is so neat! I didn't even know there was a Toronto streetcar museum. I love the way they used to look and kind of wish they still looked like this! Reminds me of the cable cars in San Francisco.

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    Replies
    1. I kept thinking about San Francisco too when the kids were hopping aboard the open streetcars. They thought it was cool that you had to hop on/off while it was moving and loved the stories of the engineers that fell off.

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