Submitted by Ken Hirter
This month’s Walkabout finds me at the very beginning upon entering Hamilton’s North End. The Grand Old Lady itself, the Old Hamilton Train Station aka the Canadian National Railway (CNR)
A brief History to the beginning: Let’s go back to the year 1923 to the Grand Truck Railway (GTR) when they declared bankruptcy and merged with the Canadian National Railway. Within 5-five years CNR decided to abandon the old Stuart Street location and started construction on the Grand Old Lady which laid it’s corner stone 87 years ago on May 07, 1930. The first “all aboard” left the station on February 20th 1930. The official opening happened a year later on May 27, 1931 attended by Governor General, the Earl of Bessborough. Fitting for the Grand Old Lady.
In the latter years, even though the station itself remained relatively constant, the decline in ridership happened with a major slow down when the 401 opened. Sadly by 1962 most of the passenger trains ceased stopping in Hamilton between Toronto-London-Windsor with GO transit pulling up stakes here in Hamilton on Hunter Street in 1967 and it’s new Station opened in 2016.
Renewed interest in the Old Hamilton Train Station happened when Hollywood came a calling in 1996. Thanks primarily to the filming of the movie “The Last Kiss Goodbye” the producer’s offered one million dollars to renovate the now abandoned station restoring the station to it’s original pristine glory.
1996-2016: The publicity of the filming attracted the Labourer’s International Union of North America and today it is known as Liuna Station. The station itself was reopened in 2000 after an additional 3 million dollars was put forth in additional renovations. The renovations itself are absolutely stunning Art Deco architecture. I stood inside the Grand foyer and the images of yesteryear come forth thinking what it must of have been like 87 years ago as you heard All Aboard or Next stop Hamilton.
2017: There is a possibility that VIA rail may use the platforms to reinstate passenger service back to the city that was once the hub of railways in Southwestern Ontario. I have always thought with Hamilton’s Urban growth and planning that like Toronto’s, Hamilton to should have a Union Station too. Wouldn’t that be grand for the Grand Old Lady 1930-2017 and beyond……All Aboard Next stop.
Hopefully you enjoyed this blast from the past to present.. Thanks and Till next month’s Walkabout, take Care of You and those around you.