Toronto Railway Museum Artefact: The Train Board
The train board that sometimes hangs on the side of Don Station is actually from the Canadian Pacific Agincourt station, which closed and was demolished in 1978.
Using public timetables showing the train numbers and the times, it would appear that the information on the board was in effect from April 1970 until October 1976. Agincourt was located exactly 10.8 miles east of Don so the train times on the Agincourt board would have differed 14-20 minutes earlier for eastbound trains and later for westbound trains. As indicated, these trains operated to and from Havelock, 100.8 miles east of Toronto Union Station, although the most important stop along this route was Peterboro (as CPR spelled it), 76.5 miles from Union Station.
The route is interesting historically as it was along CPR’s main line from Toronto to Montreal via West Toronto, which opened in 1884. The Don Branch from Leaside to Union Station opened in 1892 and Don Station in 1896. When CPR opened the faster Shore Line via Trenton and Belleville in 1914, the original main line declined in importance. The first westbound train to operate into the new Union Station train shed in January 1930 was from Peterboro and hauled by CPR Northern No. 3100, now on display in Ottawa. From about 1960 on, Toronto-Havelock trains were exclusively Budd-built Rail Diesel Cars, which CPR branded as Dayliners. Toronto-Ottawa overnight pool trains with sleeping cars continued to operate over this route until October 1965. The Montreal-Toronto line was severed between Glen Tay and Tweed in 1971.
After CPR turned over their passenger business to VIA Rail in 1978, the Havelock trains continued to operate (with different numbers) until 1982. They resumed in June 1985 and disappeared for good during the infamous VIA cuts in January 1990. The track between Agincourt and Havelock is now operated freight only by the Kawartha Lakes Railway, an internal shortline owned by CP. There were recently serious proposals to restore passenger service between Toronto and Peterborough, although the two political champions for this were the late Jim Flaherty and a Peterborough MP recently expelled from the Conservative caucus over alleged campaign financing irregularities.
The Havelock trains also have historical resonance for the Toronto Railway Museum since they were the last passenger trains to use Don Station until it closed in December 1967. It continued to operate as a flag stop for another five months, until April 1968, and was moved to Todmorden in 1969. On September 6, 1982, VIA Train No. 190 to Havelock was the last passenger train to be serviced at John Street. This is shown as Train 382, the Sunday only train at the bottom of the board, which operated on Monday, September 6 since that was the Labour Day holiday.
Posting and photo by Derek Boles, TRHA Historian