Old Railway Station a Significant City Landmark, Page 2

Officials photographed on August 9, 1935 at Union Station: From left, front row: Fredericton Mayor W.G. Clark, CPR president Sir Edward Beatty, Premier R.R. Dysart, Bank of Montreal president Sir Charles Gordon, Steel Company of Canada president Ross McMaster, Royal Bank of Canada president M.W.Wilson, and Senator Smeaton White. Provincial Archives New Brunswick Harvey Studio Photograph: P14-71

The last steam locomotive chugged out of Union Station on Feb. 16th, 1956, being replaced the next morning by gas/electric. On Jan. 10th, 1961, the last passenger train on the Newcastle line arrived at the Station and, on Apr. 28th, 1962, passenger service on the Fredericton Junction line ceased.

In 1981, there was a revival of the passenger train with VIA Rail but it was short-lived, ending in 1985. However, freight service continued until 1990. Since then, Union Station has been almost forgotten, left to deteriorate into an appalling and unbelievable state of affairs -- a sharp contrast to its grand beginning!

The York Street location was chosen in 1866, the same year Fredericton Railway Company was formed to build a branch line to Hartt's Mills (later Fredericton Junction). Here it would connect with the Western Extension Railway, which was being built from Saint John to Maine.

The first station on the York Street site, which would become the northern terminus for the Fredericton Branch Line, was a wooden one, an inexpensive structure built like a house. There were offices on the second floor and public waiting rooms at the ground level.

It was ready for occupancy by the Fall of 1869, at which time The Reporter & Advertiser stated: "The Station House, in all its appointments, is second to none in New Brunswick, while the officials employed at the Depot and on the Line seem to be the right men in the right place."

The Branch Line was completed at the same time and, on Dec. 1st of that year, the first departure of the first regular passenger train took place, the local Brass Band and a large part of the City population turning out for the inaugural run to Saint John and back. Fredericton finally had connection with the outside world during all four seasons.

Many distinguished guests experienced the initial excursion; among those standing on the platform, ready to board: Lieutenant-Governor Lemuel Allan Wilmot and his Private Secretary; Judge Charles Fisher, a Father of Confederation; Sheriff Thomas Temple, President of the Fredericton Railway Company, and his Directors, including Adolphus FitzRandolph and Alexander "Boss" Gibson; Queen's Printer George Fenety; Mayor George Gregory and the City Aldermen; Legislator William Needham, who had persuaded the Railway Company to build the Station in the back of town instead of lower Queen Street.

Everyone admired the new station and all regarded the railway from Fredericton to Hartt's Mills as the best section of the whole line. "Certain it is that, both going and returning, we ran over our Branch without any accident or delay in a few minutes over the hour -- distance 22 miles."

In honor of the new Branch and its new Terminus, a local confectioner introduced Fredericton to "Railroad Candy," the wrapper displaying "a correct table of distances all along the line"-- Salamanca, Morrison, Waasis, Rusagonis (location of the water tank), and Three Tree Creek.

There was one complaint: the Station was too far out of town, especially since there was little settlement beyond Charlotte Street at that time. Fred Edgecombe, who became the ticket agent, recalled years later how he could stand on