In 1984, my childhood home had prime viewing of the Allandale rail yard. Nestled on the crest of a hill at 91 Cumberland Street, the backdoor view had not yet become obstructed by the apartment that would later be built on the corner of Bayview and Gowan. The maple trees, still in their youth, framed the majestic station that was the pride of the CNR.

Although by now the heyday of the Allandale station and the once bustling rail yard (complete with a roundhouse and coal chute) had passed, the myriad of parallel tracks was still home to an assortment of vintage CNR cars. The brown boxcars with the large, curvaceous “CN” painted in thick, white, bold paint on the left side of the freight car were my favourite.

The story goes that I would stop whatever I was doing as a child and race to the bathroom (which had the most opportune view of the rail yard) anytime I heard the sound of a train whistle. Like Pavlov’s dog my instantaneous reaction was as predictable as the morning dawn. My mom tells me that I would even hop out of the bath, naked as a jaybird just to catch a glimpse of the black and white striped CN locomotives that would bully boxcars into place along the stretch of tracks between Essa Road and Minet’s Point Drive.

My love for trains was only encouraged by my Father who by now was regularly taking me to model train shows annually held at Barrie’s armories at Queen’s park. Our favourite father-son pastime was building HO scale train sets and replicating the grand display we were lucky to view from our back porch.

These types of memories are irrevocably tied to my childhood. They are synonymous with my upbringing in historic Allandale and are precious to me. Anytime I see a photograph of the Allandale rail yard my mind instantly catapults me back to these moments. That’s the power of image and it’s why we are so passionate about the Barrie Historical Archive.

Images are historical snapshots. They are stories unto themselves – stories that need to be told. Our goal as we curate Barrie’s free online museum is to create a place where these pictures can be centralized, where we can celebrate our history and tell your stories. I hope you will join us. Your story needs to be told.

Travis Doucette
Barrie Historical Archive