This month’s Canadian Corner post features the Windsor, Essex and Lake Shore Railway (W.E. & L.S.); details come from the book, Kingsville 1790-2000: A Stroll Through Time.
- Charter obtained in 1901.
- Construction begun in 1905 – reached Cottam in 1906, Kingsville in 1907 and Leamington in 1908.
- The rail line carried people and freight.
- About 25% of the company’s revenue came from freight, including farm produce, tobacco, brick and tile.
- There was a special siding at the Cottam canning factory to pick up their products
- There were two streetcar lines running through the town.
- The main route followed Division Road North to the Four Corner and turned east on Main Street East. The coaches would stop at the passenger station before going on to Leamington.
- The second line went continued on Division Road past the Four Corner. The streetcar turned at Mill Street, followed Mill to Lansdowne, down Lansdowne Avenue to Park Street. The streetcar continued along Park Street to the streetcar barns and power house. Passengers on this route were taken to the Kingsville harbour, to the Mettawas Inn or they could walk to nearby Lakeside Park.
- By 1923, the number of passengers was beginning to decrease due to the number of private autos. The streetcars were also in need of updating. The company continued to use power generated in Kingsville even though it was cheaper if obtained from Ontario Hydro.
- By 1927, the company was operating in the red and the Dominion government decided to abandon the company.
- In September 1929, municipalities along the route began operating the line. New streetcars were purchased and labelled “The Sunshine County Route.” They were first used in 1930.
- Operating losses continued to increase and in September 1932, the service terminated.
- The same month that the railway terminated, Greyhound bus began service from Windsor to Leamington. They maintained a ticket office on Main Street East until 1961.
- It took until 1959 for the municipalities to pay off the debentures for the railway line.
Images courtesy of www.internationalmetropolis.com. History chronology courtesy of the Kingsville Archives.
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