|Friday, May 12, 1899, Vol. 48, No. 16
|The Newmarket Era
|Page 3, col. 2
The first cars.
It will be 46 years next Tuesday since the first railway train ever seen in Ontario started its initial trip from Toronto to Aurora. Next week the rails of the Metropolitan Electric Railway Co. will probably be laid from Toronto to Newmarket by way of Yonge St. and the railway company that has had exclusive traffic for nearly half a century from this point will have a lively competitor.
The first train above alluded to consisted of the locomotive 'Lady Elgin', which had been built in Toronto by James Good, the baggage smoking car, a flat-roofed passenger coach (the entire passenger rolling stock of the province) not much larger than a modern trolley car but built substantially with long sills of Norway pine with sides of white Canadian timber, trimmed and decorated with white ash, cherry and chestnut, and containing cushioned reversible seats, and two box cars completed the train. Carlos McColl, a native of New York state was the engine driver; Joseph Lopez, a Spainard, was fireman; George Wallace was baggageman; Tom Boucher, John Meek, Tom Wilton and John Mosier, brakesmen. Mr. John Harvie, Ontario's first conductor, had charge of the train. He was then only 20 years old but had gained some knowledge of railroading in the United States. It fell to his lot to sell the first railway ticket every sold in the province. It was purchased by a retired shoemaker who was coming from Toronto to Aurora, but whose name is now forgotten. There were some fifty passenger on board this historic trip, among whom were Hon. J. C. Morrison, who afterward was appointed a judge but who at this time was president of the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Railway Company, the builders of the line; Superintendent Alfred Brunel, William Huckett, mechanical superintendent, and many of the directors. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Millard of Newmarket were among the passengers. Owing to the heavy grade it took an hour to run from Toronto to Thornhill [Concord], where the water tank on the tender was refilled and a fresh supply of wood taken on board and a fresh start was made. It was two hours after the train left Toronto before it arrived at Aurora, a distance of 30 miles. The return journey was made on the same day. The train arriving in Toronto at six o'clock in the evening where a great crowd was assembled to welcome its advent. On the 24th of May a double trip was made, and box cars were fitted up with seats to accommodate the manger passengers.
The first Saturday in June [June 4, 1853] the first construction train arrived in Newmarket, coming as far as the Timothy Street creek. The train was afterwards backed up and the water tank filled from the pond by pails.
In June the track was extended to the Bradford river and connection was made with the steamer Morning, a little side wheel steamer that plied on Lake Simcoe between Bradford and Orillia. The third week of June the train brought the mail here and the four horse stagecoach stopped running up Yonge Street the following Saturday night.
Mr. E. Jackson came to Newmarket on the first train to use a written time table, Wednesday, the 20th of June, and the first train to carry the mail. The same day Messrs. E. Jackson and E. R. Henderson took possession of the Era Printing Office located in the building now occupied by Mr. A. R. Watson. The price of a ticket from Toronto to Newmarket was 75¢ It was afterwards raised to $1, with 75c for second-class ticket. As everybody travelled second-class to avoid the extra quarter, the second-class tickets were afterwards abolished.
In November of the same year the road was carried through to Barrie [Allandale] and on Jan. 1st, 1855, an extension was made to Collingwood.
The first station master in Toronto was Fred Upton; the first in Thornhill [Concord] was John Duncan, who occupied the position some 25 years until his death; Richard Homes was the first at Richmond Hill [Maple]; Major Fry the first at Aurora, and Walter Dudley (father of Mrs. C. G. Rose) was the first station master at Newmarket, holding the position nearly 20 years, until his death in 1872.
Since that time railroading has made great progress. Steel rails have replaced iron; coal is used for firing; and trains are not compelled to stop for fuel on a trip. At that time there was no telegraph line to facilitate dispatch and when a train got out of regular time a brakeman ran ahead when a curve was reached with a flag. When the trains met midway between stations the one nearest to a siding would have to back up to let the other pass. Many other improvements have been added such as the sleeping car, air brakes, etc. Of all the officials on the first trip Mr. John Harvie alone is alive.
Railways: Met.Ry., O.S. & H.U.Rd.
Stations: Allandale, Aurora, Bradford, Concord, Maple, Newmarket