Freeman Station comes to a stop to take on fuel and load up with some cash. An oil change is in the works as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 9, 2012  The Friends of Freeman Station (FoFS) appear to have gotten at least a two base hit with the announcement on the location for the structure that is sitting  on the Fire Station parking lot on Fairview Avenue.  Less than an hour after the location announcement the Burlington Historical Society (BHS) said they wanted to share “good news” which it certainly was; a generous pledge to the restoration of the Freeman Station, as  well as a matching pledge for donations by members of the BHS.

Now if the Mayor announces he will be bringing a motion to provide the Friends of Freeman station a significant chunk of money and then those city Councillors who shamed themselves when they let the federal Stimulus money get away on them were to agree to support the motion and at least buy a Save the Freeman Station T- shirt this could go down as a day in Burlington history where its heritage got a decent shake.

The new location, which the FoFS call “temporary” is less than 50 yards from where it sits.  The property was donated to the city by Ashland Inc., a company that has been in Burlington for 100 years.

Each time any of the FoFS checked in on the station they would see this empty triangular shaped space with a hydro tower looming over it and wonder why the station couldn’t be stored there.  Calls to the people who owned the property went very well and before they knew it The Friends of Freeman Station had a partner and a place to put the station.  Prior to that break the FoFS were beginning to feel a little glum and some people began to give up.

“I was just blown away by how receptive they were to the ideas we had.  Scott Thomson couldn’t do enough for us” said James Smith, president of  FoFS which now has charitable status that lets them issues tax receipts and eligible for federal and or provincial grants.

The Burlington West Station at Freeman is going to need a lot of tender loving care but now that she is with a family that wants her she will grow into a beautiful structure.station

FoFS have done surprisingly well on the local fund raising.  They are all but sold out with their first run of T-shirts.  The second run should be slightly different so that the first run become real collectors’ items.

The Burlington West Station in Freeman, built in 1906, was closed more than 20 years ago, but is still part of Burlington’s living history.

The relocation was approved April 30, 2012, by City Council, based on a proposal by the non-profit community group Friends of Freeman Station. The historical structure, bought by the city in 2005, will move to land offered by Ashland, a global company that specializes in chemical solutions for consumer and industrial markets.


A spot of land that Ashland could not use was made available to the Friends of Freeman who brokered a deal with the city that has the station, which the city owns, being located on land that Ashland donates or leases to the city. The building will sit just inside the gates shown above. The Fire Station on Fairview is adjacent to the property.

“I’m thrilled we’ve found a home for the station so restoration can begin soon,” said James Smith, president of the Friends of Freeman Station. “Our volunteers have worked very hard to achieve this arrangement. I’m excited by the opportunity and impressed by the positive response from Ashland.”

Somehow the station name sign was salvaged. It won't be long before it sits in its rightful place with a new coat of paint.

The city, challenged with finding an agreeable home for historic Freeman Station, in January 2011 approved the creation of an ad hoc committee that was facilitated by Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster to look at options for saving Freeman Station. Sites that had already been rejected by the previous City Council were not to be considered.

“The Friends of Freeman Station has done a phenomenal job, and has grown to 243 members,” said Councillor Meed Ward. “The community has really come through for the station, donating more than $30,000. I would like to send a special thanks to Rob and Laura Freeman and Don and Wendy Smith for their lead donations of $5,000 each.”

Station will sit on a triangle of land right beside the Fairview Street fire station

The relocation of the station is expected to take place later this year.  The first step is to get it moved onto the property and that means getting some kind of a base put in place.  Then perhaps looking for a way to cover the structure so that there is no more damage from the weather.  Smith thinks the roof is the first part that needs attention.

Ashland celebrates a 100th anniversary this year. The current Ashland facility was built in 1912 by the Vera Chemical Company of Canada Ltd. Its four employees manufactured rosin sizing to supply Canadian paper mills. The Hercules Powder Company of Wilmington, Delaware bought the company in 1931. Ashland bought Hercules in 2008.

“We look forward to working with the Friends of Freeman Station to achieve a successful and timely completion of the restoration to Freeman Station,” said Scott Thomson, Ashland plant manager.

Headquartered in Kentucky, Ashland markets high quality motor oils under the Valvoline brand name

So, who are the people that pulled this off after city council basically walked away from the building and hoped that someone might buy it for scrap.  An advertisement was run in newspapers – but there were no takers.

The scope of the restoration work can be seen - lots of work to be done. Willing hands ready to do it. Give the Friends of Freeman a call - they will keep you busy for the next while.

The Friends of Freeman Station is a non-profit community group and registered charity whose aim is to relocate, restore and preserve the historic Freeman Station for the enjoyment of current and future generations. Freeman Station is recognized for its architectural and historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Heritage Burlington.

While the group and many members of the public are still hopeful that the station ultimately can be located in Beachway Park, an immediate move will allow FoFS members to begin restoration and continue fundraising and public education in a new and more visible location. Public events are planned in co-operation with Ashland Inc., whose site is celebrating 100 years in Burlington this year.

The City of Burlington owns the station. Restoration is expected to cost $350,000. The station, which used to sit on the CN tracks just west of Brant Street,  less than a “click away” explain Smith, is being stored behind the Burlington Fire headquarters on Fairview Street.


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