Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Old Canadian National Railway spur in Fort William(Thunder Bay)

Do you recognize the building at the far left of this photo?....Yes it is the Fort William Gardens and this is Vickers Street in Fort William(now Thunder Bay). This photo was taken in the 1950's and since then, the CNR station beside the passenger cars is long gone and so are the tracks, as no locomotives travel any longer down Vickers Street towards Arthur Street, behind the Bell Telephone building, curving towards Arthur Street, travelling down the north side of Arthur and finally turning left right through the new mini golf course and curving behind the Kingsway Motel to finally connect to the main CN line that still goes right through our city. I know that because as a kid I lived on Arthur Street right across from the train tracks. My mother would have a train schedule hand so she would be sure not to hang clothing on the line when the steam train was passing. In the new photo you are looking at an extra wide Vickers Street at this point, but the Fort William Gardens is still there...so far anyway!

Below, and just out of sight at the bottom of this 1940's photo is the tracks that I had explained above. Here, highway 61(Kingsway St) was the main highway into town from the USA. It is interesting to see this photo and the one taken today as the only similar thing in the photo is Mount McKay in the background.

The Kingsway Motel in the photo below is actualy built in a triangular shaped because the train tracks curved from Arthur Street at a tight angle behind the motel to attach to the main line as mentioned above.

I really enjoy these four photos as I actually remember the complete transition. No matter what our city does, it's still sad to see many of our historic buildings disappear into the oblivion.
Thanks for looking and click on to enlarge as usual!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such great memories of Fort William. When was the CNR station closed and demolished?


Dave Cano said...

Thanks Andrew....as a guess, and what I remember, the CNR Station was closed in the early 1970's....all the other spurs that were connected to this route were closed and Arthur Street was widened for better traffic flow through Fort William.

abg said...

Thanks for posting that. I remember the circus train pulling in on that spur line when I was a kid and parking. I also remember being in McKellar Park School at the time and watching them washing the elephants behind the Fort William Gardens. At least I think the two events were related. Anyways, I'm puzzled as to how they turned the engines on the spur line. In the top photo the engine is headed the right way to meet up with the main line. So did they back the train in?

Dave Cano said...

Hello abg and thanks for the comment. We lived on Arthur Street and the train did go either way...it was just a spur from the mainline. It came in/or out at near the main line on arthur street and in/or out further down Vicker's Street and reconnecting to the main line there. The circus train you are talking about would be the Shrine Circus train which always performed at the Gardens....I do have a photo of the Elephants there somewhere in my archives. D.