Moving Freeman Station from its current location, if at all possible, would be very very expensive

By Alan Harrington

May 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada built The Freeman Station in 1906 in typical fashion with a tall roof design.

When the discussion arose in 2010 as to where to relocate the Station, the tall roof posed a major challenge.

The station in the early evening after a rainfall.

It is too tall to fit under any railway bridges along the QEW – requiring it to remain south of the QEW.

A suggestion was made to remove the roof, however the roof and its large overhang supported by rafter tails is the structure that holds the walls and whole thing together.  Just moving the roof separately, it would probably still be too tall.

Another idea was to haul it to the lake and launch it on a barge to destination unknown?

The only way to escape north of the QEW intact – is along the level crossing at Burloak  – which means going east along New Street to Burloak then north on Burloak over the tracks and QEW.  This would require stopping the trains from running along past Burloak.   Not easy with GO trains running each way every 15 minutes.

Steel beams had to be slid under the building that was sitting on Fire department land preparing for a move 75 yards away.

Doing it again at the other level crossing at Mainway and Walkers would run into the same problems.

Existing rail lines are in yellow; the route from the current location to Ireland Park is in pink. The blue/green is where the move from the original site on the Grand Truck Railway line to the current site. The station was never very far from its home.

Rail lines are in yellow.

Theoretically – the route in pink to arrive at Ireland Park. It means moving power lines, telephone + cable wires. traffic signals. Police escort. Stopped traffic.  The truck carrying the structure moves at about walking speed.

When the station was moved originally – it was on the May 24 weekend of 2005 –  19 years ago along the green route.  Cost estimate was $25,000

When it moved again in 2014 it was about 75 yards along the blue route and cost estimate was again $25,000.

To move it from the current location would probably mean slicing it up into smaller pieces and reassembling it at the destination.  A move would include the signal mast, stonework around the base and the two rail cars – caboose and a boxcar.

Switching gear is now part of the complex that now includes the station, a caboose and a box car and tracks that they can be moved along. The yellow cab was used to inspect the condition of the rail lines. The red vehicle was used by track repair crews.

Rail track and switches would have to be moved as well.

The poured concrete basement would need to be ripped up and sent to landfill.

Quite often when buildings are torn apart – with the expectation to be rebuilt in a new location, the rebuild gets delayed and never happens.

The Freeman Station is located in the (former) Village of Freeman beside the railway lines.  Easily accessible by rail disembarking at Burlington GO Station and walking an easy two blocks west.

A lot of damage was done to the building while getting it mounted on the float during the 2005 Victoria day weekend move.  Basically the floor was destroyed and a completely new floor had to be installed.  The brickwork around the base was removed for transport – and had to be put on afterwards.

It is theoretically possible to move the Station to Ireland House intact – but the cost including insurance would be astronomical.  Add to that the cost to reinstall all the electrical, gas heating, plumbing, sewer and flooring – there are better uses in the community for such funds.

 

Alan Harrington, an accountant in his normal life, has been part of the team that created Friends of Freeman Station – the group that saved the station from being sold off as kindling.  The City once actually ran an advertisement to do just that – no one took up the opportunity.  Harrington is also a long time Director of the Burlington Historical Society

 

 

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4 comments to Moving Freeman Station from its current location, if at all possible, would be very very expensive

  • Gary Scobie

    Thank you Alan for contributing an “expert” opinion on some history of the station and the geography of moving it anywhere but where it is now. The group who made this station happen again are unsung heroes in Burlington and have done all the work on their own to bring the station to the location and high standard where it is today. A great accomplishment.

    If the City is really going to manage it going forward then simply find a way to get the land purchased where it is, get it up to legal standards as a museum and allow the expertise of the volunteers to continue in roles they might still desire to “keep it real” along with museum staff.

    Please do no more than that. Otherwise it will turn into a boondoggle.

  • Perryb

    Once again, why does it have to move? Who owns the land? Is the Fire Department wanting it gone? These colored routes look like a solution in search of a problem.

  • Graham

    Why move it at all??

  • Caren

    The Freeman Station must stay where it is, as is. It’s in a great location now and very close to its original home.

    Why does our Burlington City Council keep spending our City Staffs time and our Property Tax dollars on Projects that are Not Needed and Not Necessary!!

    Stop looking for Projects!!

    Our Property Taxes are already out of control in Burlington! i.e. Bateman, Skyway Arena, Cross walks, unnecessary road signage, massive Bike Lane Projects – Prospect Street, photo radar, multiple Park renovations, etc. etc.

    The next Municipal Election is in October 2026. It can’t come soon enough!! Residents must get out and Vote this time!!

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