Lake Erie, Essex & Detroit River Railway
Al Roach, June 7,1958
months ago, wreckers' hammers destroyed an old fortress-like building
near the foot of Devonshire Road. In doing so they destroyed one
of Walkerville's last remaining links with the quaint Victorian
beautifully designed red brick structure, with its dormers, gables,
large square turret, and pigeons had b een a landmark of this district
for almost 70 years.
was back in 1888, tow years before Walkerville became incorporated
as a town, the Hiram Walker built the old station as the Detroit
River terminus of his Lake Erie & Detroit River Railway.
it thundered the old wood-burning engines of a bygone era. With
sparks flying from their great funnel-like smoke stacks they chugged
across the countryside linking Walkerville with Harrow, Kingsville
and Leamington and later pushed through to St. Thomas.
the years rolled away, the line was absorbed into the Pere Marquestte
system (1903) and, still later, in the 1940's, became part of the
Chesapeake and Ohio, the present owners.
the decades, the aging station became involved in one way or another
with the lives most residents of Walkerville. Many farewells and
joyful reunions were witnessed there.
the 1920's, business began to fall off and in 1926 some passenger
trains were replaced with a strange conglomeration of passenger
cars, mail cars and freight cars known, for obvious reasons, as
the 1930's, all the trains were "mixed". one left Walkerville
and one left St. Thomas each day. The crews lived in St. Thomas
and one night out of tow they were away from home, staying in Walkerville.
No longer financially successful, the "mixed" came to
an inglorious end about 1947 and only freight trains ran until 1955.
you been a boy living in the district a quarter of a century ago,
however, you would have had little concern for the failing revenues
of the Pere Marquette. For the station and its ground provided a
veritable treasure-house of places to play and things to do.
could play, for instance, "French and English" on the
hedged and grassy area beside the station. You could race for house
back and forth in usually futile attempts to capture the enemy's
- once in a long, long while - you could burst with exhilaration
as you raced to victory with the enemy's banner tucked firmly under
you could race home-made soap-box cars around the smooth gravel
track surrounding the field. And you could complain vociferously
when some railway express truck interrupted the race. It never occurred
to you that you were playing on his territory.
you could have water fights at the old Victoria Fountain at the
Devonshire road end of the grounds, a beautiful monument which in
that day had not yet fallen prey to the ravages of time.