Jump aboard and experience living history.
According to VIA Rail Canada, the first public train began running between Saint Jean sur Richelieu and La Prairie near Montreal in 1836. Noted as a pivotal moment in Canadian history, the creation of this railway system provided individuals with an easier and less harrowing method of transportation, while also spurring the growth and development of towns, communities, and industries near railway stations. It also marked the beginning of Canada’s fascination with all things locomotive.
Run by the South Simcoe Railway Heritage Corp., a non-profit historical association stationed in Tottenham, Ontario, the South Simcoe Railway is Ontario’s first heritage railway and is a must-see and experience for rail buffs, history enthusiasts, nature lovers and those who enjoy adventure.
Featuring a fleet comprised of a Rogers 4-4-0 steam locomotive built in Paterson New Jersey in 1883, an MLW 4-6-0 steam locomotive built in Montreal, Quebec in 1912, a GE 70 ton diesel-electric locomotive built in Erie PA in 1948, and a CLC 44 ton diesel-hydraulic locomotive built in Kingston Ontario in 1960, the South Simcoe Railway provides riders with the opportunity to ‘jump aboard’, ‘step back in time’, as well as enjoy the beautiful scenery during the one hour round trip along the century-old railway that once connected Hamilton with Barrie and Collingwood. There’s also commentary supplied by the friendly conductor, providing riders with interesting information about the history of the railway, rail travel in Canada and the local area.
Excursions on the South Simcoe Railway depart from the South Simcoe Railway station in downtown Tottenham, which is located 20 kilometers west of Highway 400 on Highway 9 and is approximately 50 minutes north of Toronto.
In addition to regular excursions, there are also special trips offered aboard the South Simcoe Railway. Autumn brings the colder weather and the Fall Colours Excursion, a truly unique way to experience, appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves throughout the scenic Beeton Valley Creek area. This popular offering occurs every weekend in October with four departures happening at 10:30am, noon, 1:30pm and 3:00pm.
‘During the festive holiday season, the South Simcoe Railway also offers visitors the opportunity to ride the train with Santa on the Santa Claus Express.’
The Fall Season also brings the Haunted Halloween Adventure to the railway. During the weekend before Halloween, visitors can experience a spooky family-friendly nighttime ride on the South Simcoe Railway. All travelers embarking on this journey are encouraged to arrive in costume and there are even prizes for best children’s costume and best adult costume.
In Spring, visitors can hop on board for an Easter Express train ride. During this Easter themed trip, riders will have the opportunity to share in the fun with games, challenges, prizes and tasty chocolate treats. A very special guest, the Easter Bunny, will also be on board to visit with riders.
During the festive holiday season, the South Simcoe Railway also offers visitors the opportunity to ride the train with Santa on the Santa Claus Express. Not only does each child get to experience a fun train ride, they also have the opportunity to visit with Santa and his elves, tell Santa their special Christmas wish and receive sweet treats from his special helpers.
In addition to seasonal special occasions, rail buffs can also book the South Simcoe Railway for other special occasions, such as birthday parties, that include a fun ride in the baggage car of the train as you travel along the historic railway. You’ll also receive a special, personalized locomotive shaped cake to celebrate the occasion.
Riding the steam train is not the only way to get involved with the South Simcoe Railway. As a non-profit historical association, the organization depends on tickets sales and donations to cover the costs of operations, as well as volunteers to help keep everything ‘chugging’ along. For those interested in helping out, a community of volunteers meets every Saturday morning at 9am to work on any tasks that need to be completed.
For your next family adventure, jump aboard one of the 1920s coaches and enjoy a historic ride on the South Simcoe Railway. It will surely be a journey you will never forget.