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Port Stanley Terminal Rail


Port Stanley Terminal Rail No reporting mark

Port Stanley Terminal Rail (PSTR) is a heritage railway currently operating in southwest Ontario. Its origins date back to 1856, with the formation of the London and Port Stanley Railway (LPSR), a small regional railway about 40 kilometres long. The LPSR served the communities of London, St. Thomas and Port Stanley, providing both freight and passenger service.

Despite its small size, the LPSR contributed greatly to the local economy. During the 1850s, it embarked on a round of rate cutting, said to have done serious financial damage to its two major rivals, the Great Western (GWR) and Grand Trunk Railways (GTR). The railway's main shipping commodities were coal and wood. Eventually this led to the construction of port facilities in Port Stanley, equipped to handle railroad car ferries. Coal shipping between Port Stanley and Conneaut, Ohio lasted until 1932.

In 1871 the GWR decided to formally put an end to this pest once and for all. It took out a 20-year lease, which effectively gave it full control over the LPSR. In 1882 the GWR was absorbed by the GTR, which took ownership of the GWR's assets. The railway was then purchased by the city of London in 1894. It was converted from steam to electricity in 1913.

Another boon for the local economy was the growth of tourism. Port Stanley boasted a popular beach, that included resorts, amusement facilities, rides and restaurants. The pavilion, which in later years drew top names such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Guy Lombardo, was a major attraction.

By the end of World War II business began to die off as the use of automobiles increased. Passenger services were finally discontinued in 1957. The Canadian National Railway (CN) acquired the railway in 1966 in a trade with city of London for a large piece of CN property.

CN continues to make good use of the London-St. Thomas section but the section from St. Thomas to Port Stanley saw little usage and maintenance. CN abandoned the section in 1982 following a washout. Shortly after that a group of local enthusiasts purchased the section, restored the rails and in 1983, began operating tourist trains. From 1983 to 85, a group of volunteers restored the washed out section. The group then went on to obtain a charter in 1987 to operate a heritage railway.

Today the Port Stanley Terminal Rail (PSTR) operates regular service on weekends with additional service in the midweek during the busy summer months of July and August. For the most part the railway is manned by volunteers. The railway can also be rented for special events and parties.

Thanks to the dedication of the many volunteers, the railway has risen from the ashes to form a vital part of the community's past and future. Timetables and a list of events can be found on the railway's website.