Our museum is located on 10.5 acres in the heart of Smiths Falls. Our station building, built in 1912 by the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway, is a National Historic Site.
Efforts to acquire this station began in April 1979, when Canadian National embargoed their Smiths Falls Subdivision between Smiths Falls and Strathcona. VIA responded by moving their night trains over to the CPR Brockville Subdivision, and CN applied for permission to abandon and demolish the structure.
Local resident Bill LeSurf took up the cause, hurriedly gathering support from people and organizations across the region. The interim “Save Our Station” (SOS) committee evolved over time. It grew into what is now the Smiths Falls Railway Museum Corporation. Bill’s efforts succeeded in obtaining a reprieve for the station, and negotiations with CN began in earnest.
In 1985 we closed a deal with CN, under which the station building was purchased, the land under it and a short section of track was leased. This provided a foothold, from which to create the museum we have today.
1985 was a busy year, as the station received a new roof, much new paint, and the property was cleaned up. A temporary museum display was established in the only portion of the building that was safe to the public, the express room.
In October 1985, Parks Canada unveiled a plaque on the station, declaring it as a National Historic Site.
Over the following fifteen years, massive efforts went into the rehabilitation of the station building. Collapsed floors and ceilings were removed and replaced, all glass was replaced. Electrical, heating, plumbing, and drainage systems were renewed. The ornamental plaster work, wooden trim, and hardwood floors were repaired or replaced as necessary. The asphalt station platform was removed, and a brand new platform was constructed from BC Fir timber to the original platform’s specifications. The train order signal equipment was acquired from a demolished station and was restored and installed.
As land purchases gradually added to our holdings, several surrounding buildings were acquired. The CN freight shed and a feed mill warehouse were demolished to clean up the site.
The CN duplex Section House, threatened with demolition, was moved across the street onto our land and its exterior was restored.