Saturday, May 16, 1903 The Globe (Toronto) Page 9

Golden Jubilee of Grand Trunk.

First passenger train fifty years ago to-day.

Toronto to Aurora.

John Harvie was the first conductor.

The only survivor—Early equipment—First bridal couple to take the train still living in Newmarket.

To-day is the golden jubilee of railroading in Ontario. Just fifty years ago, May 16, 1853, the first passenger train was run on the first railway in the Province, from Toronto to Aurora. It was known as the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Railway and shortly after was extended to Barrie, and then to Collingwood. The significance of that 50 years in railroading is not easily grasped, but a brief description of the first passenger train that left the city will aid and if after perusing it one could stand at an upper window of the present Union Station and see the thousands of freight cars, passenger cars and engines that crowd the Esplanade as far as the eye can reach in both direction the conception of the growth of railway traffic in fifty years would be much more vivid.

Information about this first railroad, the germ of what is now know as the Grand Trunk System, has been gathered mostly from Mr. John Harvie, who was the conductor of that first train. The ticket office, to say nothing of a station, was not yet completed, and Mr. Harvie sold tickets on the platform and on the train. The ticket office, which was under construction, was a mere shed, situated on the south side of Front street, opposite the Queen's Hotel, then called the Sword Hotel. The train consisted of an engine, the Toronto, and two cars, a passenger and a combination passenger and baggage car. There were about thirty passengers, including a number of directors and officials and the promoter, Mr. T. C. Capreol. Among the directors were Judge J. C. Morrison, Hon. John Beverley Robinson, afterwards Lieut. Governor; Hugh Scobie, then business manager of The Globe, and Duncan Macdonald, a wholesale merchant. Among the officials were the superintendent, Alfred Brunel; the Treasurer of the company, Wm. Sladden, and the master mechanic, Wm. Huckett. The engineer was Carols McCall and the fireman Joe Lopez. The curious thing about the crew was that there were four brakemen, one to control the brake at either end of each car.

Equipment of the road.

The entire equipment of the railway at that time consisted of two box cars, one passenger car, one combination passenger and baggage car, two engines, the Lady Elgin, built at Portland Maine, and the Toronto, built by James Good, Toronto. The line was opened without any formalities and the first train left Toronto at 8 a.m. and arrived in Aurora at 10 a.m., and, returning, left Aurora at 2 p.m., and arrived in Toronto at 4 p.m. The line was opened to Bradford in June, and to Barrie in November the same year, and on January 1, 1855, to Collingwood.

Mr. Harvie states that for weeks after the line was opened crowds of people assembled all the way from the Queen's Hotel to the Queen's Wharf to see the train leave and arrive, and all along the line the country people assembled, farmers bringing their families considerable distances to see the train, and not a few horses ran away in consequence.

Some steps in advance.

At that time the fuel used in the engine was wood, and persons whose memories will carry back 25 or 30 years will remember the engines, with the smokestack that widened out from the base to the top. Mr. Harvie stated that it kept the crew busy loading wood on the engine's tender. The passenger cars of those days were shaped like a box car, with flat roof, and were as far removed from the magnificently fitted and luxurious sleeping, parlor and dining cars that make up the Internal Limited of to-day as were the old wood-burning engines from the modern Goliath of the rails, drawing a train half a mile long. The advances in equipment to the very height of luxury and speed in travel is on a par with the growth of the Grand Trunk mileage itself, from 24 miles in 1853 to 2,650 miles on Ontario in 1903.

The only survivor.

Mr. John Harvie is the only survivor of the company who travelled with him on the May morning half a century ago. He was then a young man just past twenty, and became successively agent at Collingwood and Superintendent of the road. As Traffic Superintendent he did the work of despatcher, and directed the movements of nineteen trains moving at the same time on his division. During his 28 years' connection with the road they never lost the life of a single passenger, and Mr. Harvie tells that fact with pardonable pride. In 1860 he had the Prince of Wales, now King Edward, and his party in charge. Upon retiring from the road the company presented him with a life pass. Mr. Harvie is now Secretary of the Upper Canada Bible Society, and though 71 does not look his age by fifteen years.

The first bride and groom to travel by rail in Ontario were Mr. and Mrs. Alex. McCracken of Newmarket. They still reside there, and will celebrate their golden jubilee on July 4th. In view of the fact that they were the first bridal party Mr. Harvie would not let them pay, but carried them free.

Mr. C. M. Hays, General Manager of the Grand Trunk, will to-day travel over this portion of the system.

Railways: G.T.Ry., O.S. & H.U.Rd.

|<<<<<45678910111213>>>>>|

Results