Since it's construction in 1878, one of our most endearing and enduring landmarks is undoubtedly the Craigleith Train Station. Long a staple of traveller's coming to and fro from nearby Collingwood, the fact that there were two trains daily meant that one could travel either way making a return visit on the same day or evening entirely possible. It also meant that students from the area attending school in Collingwood no longer needed to board there, but could now commute. This might seem rather strange to us now, but consider that there were no automobiles in that era, and the primary form of transport over land was horse, horse and buggy and rail, or by foot! I'm sure many folks have listened as their grandparent's told them about "walking to school three miles in the snow", ha ha!
As skiing started to become popular in the 1930's, the station saw a new purpose. The "Ski Train" was a term coined for the excursions that many took to partake in the sport at nearby Blue Mountain. By the end of the Second World War, the members of The Toronto Ski Club had focused their attention on the area surrounding Craigleith, and the interest in skiing grew exponentially. Although the "Ski Train" ran for but a short time, it fostered fond memories for many who grew up and spent time enjoying recreation in the area. As roads improved, travel by rail waned in popularity. In 1960, the last passenger trains made their run and then service was discontinued. The little station sat alone and forgotten amongst the lilacs until it was moved to new foundations just east of it's original site. After that, it saw new life and purpose when it was resurrected as a restaurant by local residents Ken and Suyrea Knapman.
Not only were the Knapman's excellent restauranteurs, they were avid historians who not only preserved the heritage of the station, but the area as well. The "Depot" as it was affectionately known, was for many a place of meeting for a good meal and good conversation, and my folks used to make it an annual tradition to spend New Year's Eve there as the Knapman's were dear family friends.
Today, the little red station has seen new purpose as the Craigleith Heritage Depot Museum, and showcases items of the history of The Blue Mountains dating back an amazing 445 million years! From moving people to and fro, to transporting folks back in time, this beautiful little station has served us all very well over it's lifetime.
|The Ski Train|
|Waiting for the train|
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