Is the Freeman station collection of volunteers one of Burlington's BEST?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 15th, 2018



Is anyone going to nominate the people refurbishing (rebuilding is probably a better word) the Freeman Station as one of Burlington’s BEST.

The Freeman station got moved around a number of times while the city figured out what it wanted to do with the thing. When city council failed to come up with a solution citizens led by Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster more here.

The Freeman station got moved around a number of times while the city figured out what it wanted to do with the thing. When city council failed to come up with a solution citizens helped by Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster.

The struggle to save the structure was huge – no one wanted the thing, a city planner said it was falling apart and the city couldn’t sell it for fire wood.

Here is an outline of what they achieved during 2017.  The detail comes from the Friends of Freeman station.

2017 – Canada’s sesquicentennial – began full of hope at the Freeman Station. The right to display the Canada 150 logo was given to Friends of Freeman Station: Arian Cuvin unfurled it for us at the Station.

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.

Some of the Whinstones can be seen in the foreground – the station rested on blocks for years – a group of citizens saved the building when council proved they couldn’t make anything happen.

Construction continued using the original Whinstones being cemented into place. These are the original granite blocks that were salvaged from the original station and have been stored since 2005 when it was moved from the original site. The mortar is thick and white – the same as it looks in the old photos of the station from 1910.

Inside the Station we were able to acquire the original GTR Locomotive license issued to Mr. Barber Freeman on October 1 1907. His great nephew drove in to see the certificate where it remains at the station.

In February the Friends of Freeman Station participated at the Heritage Fair at the Central Library.

Freeman - tool rack

Tool rack set up for the volunteers who put in hundreds of hours of work.

In April – the weather was good and construction continued inside and outside the Station. The baggage room was completed.

Halton Region Services designed and installed several interpretive panels inside the Station.

Finally on July 1 we opened our doors in celebration of Canada Day. Our temporary platform was built and festooned with red and white bunting. A bagpiper played as our guests including the Mayor, our MPP and MP as well and sponsors and volunteer representatives cut the ribbon. The dignitaries said they set a record for number of official duties done in one day that day.

Over 800 people came by, the public response was very favourable.

Work continued as a small office was built on the east side wall. Further wall paneling installed.

Freeman Chry full

This is a vehicle that could run on the rails – it was donated to the Freeman station.

We also gathered several artifacts including an original 300 lb bronze bell from a 1917 GTR Locomotive. A CN speeder – small two-seater work-cab that ran on rails in the 1960’s and STILL works fine. We finished two 4 wheel rail carts in fire engine red.

Then on Sept 30 we opened our doors to our 2nd open house of the year Doors Open Burlington. On this day we welcomed 1,000 visitors. Burlington’s own Top Hat Marching Band provided live entertainment for us.

Then in the fall we set up a mock-up of our diorama – a 1/24 scale model of Burlington in the 1920’s that we will feature in our basement. Many people came by are we are very thrilled to see that project completed.

Freeman - cement being poured

Putting the cement foundation on place once the station had been moved.

In the late fall we FINALLY got our basement poured. Four inches of concrete spread over 60 tons of crushed stone and gravel. Then smoothed and sealed but not before running the fresh water and sanitary pipes and connecting to the mains. We now have electricity, gas and water at the station.

That addresses the basement – but we can’t forget the attic where insulation was literally stuffed to the rafters for the first time in this 100+ year old building.

We also participated in the Remembrance day ceremony by laying a wreath at the cenotaph and a month later made it into the Burlington Santa Claus parade for the third year in a row.

Are we finished?

No not quite yet. Washrooms and HVAC are slated to be installed in early 2018 but more importantly another distinctive characteristic feature of the station will be installed in early January.

The first thing people will see upon entering will be our magnificent hard wood flooring – and you can walk on it. Oak and hard maple locally grown in Burlington that has been planed and sanded into boards then carefully laid in place by hand.


Some of the early members of the Freeman Station initiative listening to city council debate what would happen to the structure. The city couldn’t come up with a solution – the citizens came to the rescue and as a result of some very hard work the building was saved.

The team of about twenty workers – all volunteers – men and women and some youth lending their time and skills amounting to about 7,000 labour hours in total.

Is there any other community group that can top that record?

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