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The Craigleith Heritage Depot

The Craigleith Heritage Depot

The Craigleith Heritage Depot History

Train station

Sandford and Andrew Fleming sold the land that The Craigleith Heritage Depot now stands on to the Northern Railway of Canada in 1872. Sandford Fleming was one of the railway’s principal surveyors, and he persuaded his father Andrew Fleming to contribute the railway’s 9.8 acres (0.040 km2). The property is situated on a Native path that Charles Rankin surveyed in 1834. The Northern Railway’s Collingwood to Meaford branch (also known as the North Grey Extension Company or North Grey Railway) began operating in September 1872, and by 1881, five trains per day were arriving at Craigleith’s platform stop.


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The Grand Trunk Railway bought the Northern Railway Company in 1882. The Craigleith Station building was made of local wood and had a circular turret, which was a new feature in railway construction at the time. Only two turreted stations remain in Ontario, with Craigleith being the only one that has been restored to its original state. The dwelling and waiting room at the station were built in 1889 with a sill foundation, shingle roof, frame, and dimensions of 26 ft (7.9 m) by 28 ft (8.5 m), height 12 ft (3.7 m). The diameters of the extension were 12.5 ft (3.8 m) by 26 ft (7.9 m), with a height of 8 ft (2.4 m). The tower has a diameter of 8 feet (2.4 metres) and a height of 17 feet (5.2 m). The shed was 12 ft (3.7 m) by 20 ft (6.1 m) and stood 9 ft tall (2.7 m). The stable was built in 1898 with a frame and shingle roof, with dimensions of 12 ft (3.7 m) by 16 ft (4.9 m) and a height of 12 ft (3.7 m) (3.7 m). The expansion was built in 1898 and was 17 ft (5.2 m) by 12 ft (3.7 m) by 7 ft (2.1 m) with a 1,680 sq ft (156 m2) platform. Separate waiting rooms for men and women were available inside the station, as well as housing spaces for the stationmaster and his family. With his wife and family, the train conductor lived on-site.

Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s son, paid a visit to Canada in 1860. Between Toronto and Collingwood, nearly every station had erected magnificent floral arches beneath which the prince travelled in his open observation vehicle. When a special tour of hundreds of railway aficionados retraced the prince’s path in 1974, a member of the planning committee suggested resurrecting the flower arches; unfortunately, only Craigleith opted to do so. The lilac flowers were held in a local apple storage plant in an attempt to keep them from blooming. Post diggers were digging holes for the arches the night before the train voyage, when they accidently cut the cable that controlled the railway signals for kilometres. For the following 12 hours, the warning bells and red lights went crazy. In addition, the Lilac Arch was demolished by a severe rainstorm late at night. Since then, no communities have been persuaded to join in the floral arch’s rebirth.
In 1909, Phillis Gertrude Wilson was born in the depot. George Wilson, the track master, was her grandfather. Helen Speck Gibson was born on February 23, 1922, at the depot, where her father, Alan Speck, was stationmaster. Dr. Sandford Goodchild used the depot as a cottage in the 1960s, and after rail service was discontinued, it was purchased by a former Collingwood mayor, who also used it as a cottage for many years.
An actual paper from the General Roadmaster, dated May 6, 1902, establishing the salary of railway station workers is currently placed on the wall. The Depot’s foreman was paid $45.00 per month. Every day, all normal sector labourers were paid $1.20. There was no allocation for overtime in the foreman rates, which covered all services rendered.



One of the industries that benefited from the train stop was the ski industry. Private ski resorts were introduced to the public in the 1940s. Skiers could take a 7:00 a.m. train from Union Station to Craigleith Station, then pay 25 cents to ride in a Weider horse-drawn sled to the ski hill now known as Blue Mountain. The sled was driven by Father Don Plater. Due to the war effort and a lack of rail transit, the ski train operation was halted in 1942. After World War II, service to Craigleith Station was restarted in 1947 and continued until the 1960s, when automotive traffic severely reduced passenger. The Ontario Trails Council secured the adjacent railway line in 1991, and it is currently known as the Georgian Trail.



Ken and Suyrea Knapman bought the building in 1966 and refurbished it before reopening it as The Depot on October 26, 1968. Collingwood Township’s Reeve Ross Arthur honoured the couple with the Ontario Heritage Foundation Community Heritage Award on September 23, 1996, in honour of their preservation efforts.
When Mr. Knapman’s health difficulties grew serious in 1998, they decided to sell The Depot, but they were desperate to find a buyer who would maintain the structure. Ken Knapman died as a result of heart problems. Suyrea tried to keep the restaurant afloat for the next two years, hoping to find an investor who was committed to preserving the structure.
The Craigleith Heritage Ridge Project and its supporters met with the Town of the Blue Mountains council to persuade them to purchase the structure. Following the meeting, the council attempted to purchase it, but only wanted the building and not the rest of the land. Fearing that splitting the parcel would make it difficult to sell the remaining land, the Town was unable to reach an arrangement with Suryea Knapman, and she sold the building to Roger Lockhart, who had no duty to maintain the historic structure. Lockhart requested rezoning and land severances for the depot. The application was granted, and the site was divided into four blocks for building lots just east of the depot.



The Craigleith Depot was purchased by the Town of the Blue Mountains in 2001 for $380,000, with $350,000 contributed by the municipality and Craigleith Heritage Committee, and $30,000 contributed by the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust, with the help of the Craigleith Heritage Committee and many concerned citizens. In September 2001, the Town of the Blue Mountains was presented with a Visibility Strategy about the future of the Craigleith Depot. The Depot was successfully converted into a heritage centre and trailhead with a commercial component. The Craigleith Heritage Committee and the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust raised funds for the building’s restoration and reopening as The Craigleith Heritage Depot Community Interpretation Centre over a period of years.
The historic train station flooring has been preserved in the structure. It’s obvious on this level, which has seen a lot of tourists and travellers.



In 2016, the Craigleith Heritage Depot and the Town of the Blue Mountains Public Library merged to form the Craigleith Heritage Depot and the Town of the Blue Mountains Public Library. The decision to merge the museum with the library sparked debate.
Mrs. Helen Speck Gibson, who was born in the Craigleith Railway Station since her father was the station master, is featured in a continuing project called Then and Now at the Craigleith Heritage Depot. It includes photographs and video of local history, including an interview with her.


Craigleith Heritage Depot Programs

  • #YourArchives

Sunday October 3, 2021 – Friday December 3, 2021

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Location: Craigleith Heritage Depot Facebook & Twitter pages @CraigleithDepot & BMPL Instagram @bmplibrary.

The goal of Your Archives is to engage the community in the digitization and dissemination of local historical content. The staff at Craigleith Heritage Depot understands how important our past is. This initiative allows the museum to share and document local history while you keep the original artefacts. Select a record and explain why it is significant to you and/or the history of the Blue Mountains. Tag the museum in your Facebook and Twitter posts. @CraigleithDepot and on Instagram @bmplibrary & use the hashtag #YourArchives!


  • Museum From Home

Monday October 4, 2021 – Monday December 27, 2021

Time: 12:30pm – 12:45pm

Location: CHD Facebook & Twitter @CraigleithDepot.

Every Monday on Twitter and Facebook, start your week with highlights and the history of artefacts in the Craigleith Heritage Depot’s Museum collection with #MuseumFromHome!


  • 101 Things About The Craigleith Station Building

Thursday October 7, 2021 – Thursday December 23, 2021

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Location: Craigleith Heritage Depot Facebook & Twitter pages @CraigleithDepot & BMPL Instagram @bmplibrary.

The Craigleith Heritage Depot will tell the storey of the small Craigleith Station for 101 weeks. From its beginnings in the late 1880s to its current status as a museum, archive, and library. Join us in exploring how the little train station has transformed over the decades to become what it is now through photographs, letters, journals, newspaper articles, and artworks.


  • Favourite Fossils

Friday October 8, 2021 – Friday October 29, 2021

Time: 5:00pm – 5:15pm

Location: Craigleith Heritage Depot Facebook & Twitter Pages (@CraigleithDepot).

Investigate the earliest animals that existed in our area in the distant past. Staff at Craigleith Heritage Depot show off their favourite fossils from the Museum’s natural history collection. On Facebook and Twitter, you can share your own images with us. and use the hashtag #FavouriteFossils!


The Craigleith Heritage Depot Map

113 Lakeshore Rd E, The Blue Mountains, ON L9Y 0N1, Canada




Next Point of Interest
Craigleith Provincial Park

More Information

Click: The Town of Blue Mountains Ontario

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Blue Mountains
Crock A Doodle Blue Mountain
Craigleith Provincial Park


Contact Jill Does

Locations North Brokerage, Royal Lepage
Serving Southern Georgian Bay

Call: 705-331-3341



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