Heritage train station looks to Burlington for help to keep going

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Published June 21, 2023 at 11:31 am

Freeman station Burlington museum railway
Freeman Station in Burlington.

The Burlington Museums Board will be looked to for help in keeping a local heritage train station up and running.

Volunteers who operate Freeman Station on Fairview St. say declining financial support has led to a cutback of services which has prompted the move to ask for assistance.

Currently, Freeman Station operates as a local train museum and features a model train diorama, artifacts, a caboose, and a boxcar. Volunteer staff are on duty during operating hours to answer questions.

In a report that will go before a committee next week, the City of Burlington will recommend reaching out to the museums with the hope that they will take over responsibility for the site. The recommendation has not yet been approved.

Burlington Museums currently operate Joseph Brant Museum and Ireland House Museum on behalf of the City.

The City hopes Burlington Museums will be able to take on the operation, upkeep and maintenance of the train station and develop a business plan that will include new ways to attract both tourists to the site and investors to help with the costs.

Built in 1906 by the Grand Trunk Railway, the station was considered a vital transportation link to surrounding communities in its early days that assisted in the development of the area.

By 1988 the station was of no further use to the railways and was slated for destruction until a grassroots campaign saved the building. After relocations and renovations, it has been operated by volunteers known as Friend of Freeman Station (FOFS) as a railway museum and community meeting space.

Recently, the 35 unpaid volunteers of FOFS decided to dissolve the organization saying the lack of funding has made it too difficult to continue operating as is.

The report, prepared by the City’s Recreations, Community and Culture Department, believes the station is worth saving.

“Freeman Station stands as an important reminder of Burlington’s railway heritage and the efforts of residents to preserve their community’s history,” the report states.

 

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