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Three Days in the Life of the Halton County Radial Railway

Photos and Text by: James Bow

On Guelph Line, five kilometres south of Highway 7, near Rockwood, Ontario, lies a local treasure. The Halton County Radial Railway is an all-volunteer, operating streetcar museum. Managed by the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association, the museum treats visitors to a one mile ride through the woods of Escarpment Country on equipment that used to operate on local transit agencies decades ago. The museum has thrilled thousands of attendees of all ages since opening to the public in 1972.

Few realize how much hard work goes into the upkeep and operation of the museum. The association was formed in 1953 when local railfans discovered that the Toronto Transportation Commission was about to scrap the last of the wooden streetcars it inherited from the Toronto Railway Company. These cars, which were nearly 40 years old, were about to vanish into history. Rather than let that happen, these railfans got together, and convinced the TTC to hand over equipment that otherwise would have been scrapped. Toronto Railway Company car #1326 and Toronto Civic Railway car #55 were among the pieces that were rescued. In addition, the railfans rescued the Montreal & Southern Counties interurban car #107.

With these cars now rescued, the question became how to preserve and eventually restore these pieces of history. Appropriately, another piece of railway history came available to do just that. Since 1931, the Toronto Suburban Railway's interurban service between the Keele/St. Clair intersection in Toronto and the city of Guelph, lay abandoned. By paying the back taxes owed to the local township, these railfans were able to acquire a portion of the right-of-way on which to store their cars. Through 1954 and the years that followed, the museum volunteers worked to build shelters to protect their museum pieces from the elements.

Through persistence and tenacity, not to mention lots of hard work, museum volunteers managed to clear brush from the right-of-way, lay down tracks, build car barns, get equipment moving, and finally open the museum to the public in 1972. They didn't stop there. In the decades that followed, the property was expanded, turning loops added, new barns added and expanded, and more equipment acquired.

This is not an official web page written on behalf of the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association. For more information on the museum and how to plan a visit, you should consult the Halton County Radial Railway's website. However, Transit Toronto has acquired a number of pictures of HCRY operations, and has decided to showcase these pictures on this page. Below, you shall find photos depicting three days in the life of the Halton County Radial Railway through six decades of hard work.


Halton County, 1999 Image Archive


Halton County, 1957 Image Archive


Halton County, 2014 Image Archive