Georgian Bay & Seaboard Railway

SUMMARY HISTORY

Georgian Bay & Seaboard Railway

Charter – Dominion 4-5 Edw. VII, Cap 95
1905 Incorporated to build from a point between Port Severn and Penetanguishene to a point of connection with the Ontario and Quebec Railway between Cavanville and Maberly.
1910 – Leased to the CPR for 999 years.

In 1905, to compete more effectively with the GTR for the grain traffic off the Great Lakes, the CPR chartered the Georgian Bay & Seaboard Railway, also known as the CPR’s Port McNicholl branch, to avoid the delays and the additional distance of shipping grain through Toronto. This line was opened in 1912 by building a line from the newly-deepened Victoria Harbour (creating the community of Port McNicholl), across Hog Bay, with stations at Tay, Fesserton, Coldwater, Coldwater Junction (intersecting its newly-built Sudbury line north of a point called Medonte), then veering by Uhthoff and Tafton across to Orillia.

From Orillia the line passed across the northerly edge of the Narrows to Atherley, then on to Uptergrove, and via Brechin and Eldon across country to Cambray/Cambrai and over the Scugog River to Lindsay.

At Lindsay it curved into the Caroline Street station established at the time of the recently built Lindsay, Bobcaygeon & Pontypool Railway. From there, it followed the Bobcaygeon line right-of-way to just south of Logie St. at what became Lindsay Junction. At that point, rather than continuing along the somewhat meandering route through Netherton to Burketon Station on the existing Lindsay, Bobcaygeon & Pontypool right-of-way, a new more direct right-of-way was built from Lindsay Junction through Bethany to a new connection at Dranoel (or Bethany Jct., east of Pontypool) on the CPR’s O&Q line between Toronto and Montreal. (Not surprisingly, the Lindsay Junction-Netherton-Burketon Junction route then withered, and was abandoned during the Big Depression.) 

The very lightly used passenger service was discontinued in 1932, with total abandonment between Orillia and Lindsay in 1937, an undoubtedly regretted decision in view of the renewed need for grain shipments with the onset of WWII. The last segment of this line from Lindsay to Dranoel (Bethany Jct.) was abandoned in 1987 to become the “Bethany Rail Trail”.

The last regular traffic across the curved-landmark Hog Bay trestle between Port McNicoll and Medonte was in the mid-1960s.

As the line travelled for the large part on substantially level terrain, structural remnants are scarce. A few stations have survived in one role or another. The Orillia station still stands as the local Royal Canadian Legion branch. Brechin has been a long-time eatery-pub, Eldon, Balsam Lake and Grass Hill are private residences. The abutments that carried this road over the former Victoria Railway (to Haliburton), can still be seen on the Legacy (Victoria Rail) Trail a short distance north of the former Victoria Junction at the north end of Lindsay's William Street. So can the abutments over the Scugog River itself. There is also an abundance of concrete/stone culverts with a carved date around 1911 all along the line.

The Midland Simcoe Railway

Charter – Ontario 3 Edw VII Cap 105
1903 – Incorporation of the Midland Terminal Railway Co. to build from Midland harbour to Midland point; thence to Penetanguishene; thence to Perkinsfield; all in Simcoe county, Ontario etc., etc.
1912 – name changed to Midland Simcoe Ry. Co., extension line to Coldwater, etc. etc.
 Charter – Dominion  19-20 Geo V Cap 65
1929 – CPR may lease …
1931 – Lease to CPR approved for 999 years from Jan 1, 1930

Although the CPR did a grand job of making Port McNicoll its Ontario grain port, it had also hankered after the possibility of a foothold in Midland as another grain bin, but the problem was of course the well-ensconced Grand Trunk Railway. The CPR’s original intention as early as 1902 had been to establish a grain terminal in Midland, but because of the obvious physical and competition challenges, had settled for Port McNicoll. In the mid-1920s however, other events were in motion that caused the CPR to take another look. The CPR had other local vested interests, and in 1926 served notice that negotiations “to avoid cutting up the town” were in progress with the newly-minted CNR for operating rights into Midland. The CNR bargained for reciprocal access to Port McNicoll, which was naturally not acceptable to the CPR, so plans were set in motion for the construction of a CPR elevator in Midland, and a line from there to Port McNicoll. In 1928, the CPR announced that a contract had been let for a yard and freight shed in Midland, and an agreement was negotiated between the CNR and the CPR to allow running rights to the CPR over 2.2. miles of CNR track into Midland “from a junction near Port McNicoll”.

STATIONS

852 00.0 Bethany Junction (Dranoel)
863 02.3 Bethany
826 06.3 Franklin/Fleetwood*
       10.7 Rea's^
848 12.9 Hillhead
837 16.7 Lindsay Junction
831 18.1 Lindsay
894 22.0 Cambray/Joffre*
909 27.1 Grass Hill
953 29.7 Hartley
954 (Summit)
900 35.0 Balsam Lake
845 38.9 Eldon
756 44.4 Talbot
760 47.2 Brechin
       51.4 Schepeler*
       53.0 Ellesmere^
733 55.8 Uptergrove+
727 57.9 Atherley^
724 60.6 Orillia
734 62.7 Tafton
671 68.5 Uhthoff
633 74.6 Coldwater Jct./Medonte*
595 76.3 Coldwater
634 79.4 Fesserton
665 84.5 Tay/Melduf*
622 88.4 Port McNicoll

595 87.8 McMillan^
593 92.0 Midland^

Notes:

Column 1: Elevation above mean sea level
Column 2: Miles

"Station" is any designated place as a stop. It may not have a station building or a flagstop shelter.
* Names appearing on the 1921-1931 employee timetables, in some cases replacing the names shown in the public timetable. Stops marked * without a prior name/ may have been for operational purposes only, and not intended for the public.
^ Appearing only in the employee timetable. 
+ Appearing only in the public timetable.  

1 Port McNicholl CPR passenger terminal dockside Wayne lamb Collection

1 Port McNicholl CPR passenger terminal dockside Wayne lamb Collection

2 Port McNicholl CPR panorama lookling South from passenger terminal Wayne Lamb Collection

2 Port McNicholl CPR panorama lookling South from passenger terminal Wayne Lamb Collection

3 Port McNicoll passenger terminal 1950s photographer not known

3 Port McNicoll passenger terminal 1950s photographer not known

4 Port McNicoll town station. 1965. Al Paterson Collection

4 Port McNicoll town station. 1965. Al Paterson Collection

5 Port McNicoll CPR town station. 1976. Wayne Lamb Collection

5 Port McNicoll CPR town station. 1976. Wayne Lamb Collection

6 Port McNicoll town station forecourt 1979. Charles Cooper photo

6 Port McNicoll town station forecourt 1979. Charles Cooper photo

10 Hogg Bay trestle 1975. Charles Cooper photo

10 Hogg Bay trestle 1975. Charles Cooper photo

10a Hogg Bay trestle panorama 1975. Charles Cooper photo

10a Hogg Bay trestle panorama 1975. Charles Cooper photo