3 March 2011
Kingston's Famous Train is About to Leave the Downtown Station
Ex-Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler class D10 number 1095 rusts outside in the
open at Kingston, Ontario - Date/Photographer unknown.
Kingston Ontario - It may not be a picture perfect season for tourists trying to snap some
history in downtown Kingston.
Two of the city's most photographed landmarks are getting some much needed restoration work. The north and south wings of Kingston City Hall are currently
surrounded in scaffolding and green mesh while crews install new copper roofing. The historic building is not much to look at during the roof work.
And, in a few weeks, the locomotive in front of city hall will undergo its own face lift.
Council has signed a deal with the Pipe Fitters Union (Local 221) to manage the restoration of The Spirit of Sir John A. The work is expected to begin next
month and should be finished by December of 2011.
"We build houses. We build nuclear plants. This is just another challenge," said Brian Maloney, who represents plumbers, pipe fitters, welders, and
apprentices from Prescott to Napanee.
He says it's a great opportunity for unionized trades people to give something back to the community and promote their skilled trades work. Impressed with the
group's enthusiasm and expertise, councillors agreed to sign a Stewardship Agreement with the local trades union to oversee the six to eight month restoration
"It's a project near and dear to us. Some of our former members have actually worked on steam locomotives," Maloney explained.
The city will spend about one million dollars to put the big black engine on the rails to restoration. Council invested an initial amount of $340,000 for
exploratory work, plus another $642,000 to carry out the work in two stages this year, relocate the locomotive to a new foundation within Confederation Park,
and restore the rusty engine to its historic appearance.
"Yes it's a lot of money but sometimes you've got to look beyond the cost of something and look at the value of something," said Coun. Bill Glover,
during the initial debate over funding.
The Spirit, also known as Engine 1095, was built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston in 1913. The locomotive was rescued from the scrap yard by the
Kingston JayCees in 1966 and presented to the city as a gift for Canada's Centennial in 1967. It was placed on the original K&P (Kingston & Pembroke)
rail bed that used to run in front of city hall.
The locomotive is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, and sightseers take pictures of it all year long.
However, time and the elements have not been kind to Engine 1095. The boiler and tender box are badly rusted and in danger of falling apart due to years of
neglect. Aside from rusting metal, the track bed is deteriorating, and the engine is leaning.
Heritage buffs say the 1913-built locomotive is worth saving, not just for tourists, but for its heritage value and as a symbolism of civic pride.
"It's the sole survivor of the 19th century industrial Kingston," said Coun. Glover.
After years of discussion and investigation, the project is ready to move full steam ahead with a simple but delicate strategy to restore and relocate the
Sometime in March, the tender and cab are to be moved off-site to an enclosed shop for restoration. In April, a new foundation for the engine will be laid
about ten metres south of its current location, to maintain its high profile spot in the park. In June, crews will begin the delicate job of lifting and moving
the locomotive to its new foundation.
"We lift some pretty heavy things. We're up for the challenge," said Maloney of Local 221, which will act as contractor during the restoration.
It will appear as if the train left the station when tourists come looking for it this summer.
Heritage buffs note the timing of repairs to the locomotive will coincide with the 100th anniversary of its assembly in 2013 and the bicentennial of Sir John
A. Macdonald's birth in 2015.
Said Maloney: "It's going to look like the day it rolled off the assembly line."