Click here to edit subtitle

Where should Locomotive #17 be moved to?

Photo Credit:
Left: Locomotive #17 outside of Domtar Smith Paper Mill on July 28th, 1966. Photo Courtesy of Jim Sandilands.
Right: Locomotive #17 in its current location, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Muldoon.

On November 14, 2016, City Council began discussing budgets for the upcoming year. In this discussion, Locomotive #17 quickly became a heated topic. (This locomotive is currently located on the South East corner of Brookdale and Ninth Streets.) The biggest issue in debate was whether City Council should or should not put money aside to refurbish the Locomotive that evidently needed to be repaired. Doug McOuat from the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association stated that “two of Canada’s top Railway Museums consider Locomotive #17 to be in good condition. Both of these museums have over 60 years of experience, and they both have a Cornwall locomotive in their collection.”

When the Locomotive was designated as historically significant in 2006 under a heritage designation (Designation in the province of Ontario “allows municipalities and the provincial government to designate individual properties and districts in the Province of Ontario, as being of cultural heritage value or interest.” When a property is designated, it means that “the municipal council has the responsibility to protect buildings and properties that are of cultural significance”) City Council at that time promised to put $10,000 into the Locomotive to secure its upkeep. They did not keep that promise. However, in June, our current City Council decided to put money aside to refurbish the Locomotive which is estimated to cost approximately $85,000.

The next issue to arise, is that the city believes the Locomotive needs to be moved to another location in Cornwall. The biggest question to follow suit was, “where could it be moved to?” The only negative result of having the Locomotive stay where it is, is that its current location is not great for tourists or citizens to visit, but I believe the Locomotive should be kept where it is – for now. Over the next couple of years, money could be put aside each year to generate the appropriate income to eventually move the Locomotive. This will give the city sufficient time to find a new and proper location for the engine to permanently sit. Extra time also permits the city to be able to shop around for the best price to move the Locomotive.

On November 16, 2017, the Waterfront committee began discussing the option of having the Locomotive grace Lamoureux park. This idea was quickly shot down, and I do not agree or disagree with their decision. Lamoureux Park is a beautiful green area for the public to enjoy, however, most of the land that makes up Lamoureux Park is landfill. This means that the land in Lamoureux Park may not be solid enough to hold the 70-ton Locomotive. If the engine were to be moved to our waterfront area, and it did eventually sink into the ground, lifting it would bring more expenses to the city. The other side to this suggestion, is that the RCAFA building, the Cornwall Community Museum, and the Civic Complex are all heavy buildings that are situated in the park, albeit on grounds that are “original” — not landfill. Could areas near these places hold the Locomotive’s weight?

An ideal and historically appropriate location for the Locomotive, would be the Cotton Mill area. In the early 1900s train tracks went directly to this area, and they were used daily. Cornwall grew and thrived on the success of its mills, and a lot of that success can be attributed to the shipping that was done via rail. Restored, the Locomotive would be an important historical addition to this area. The Waterfront committee was concerned that the engine would become “a target for graffiti.” I believe having the Locomotive in the Cotton Mill area will deter vandals from damaging this piece of history, because it would be under the eyes of the condo dwellers and citizens visiting local businesses in that area.

Cornwall's Locomotive #17 was built in August of 1930 by Baldwin-Westinghouse, in Philadelphia. It was purchased by Cornwall's Street Railway Light and Power Company in 1962. Cornwall used this Electric Motor to move freight cars along city streets. This Locomotive is one of four still existing in Canada. Cornwall has lost countless of historically significant properties to fires and unpredictable tragedies, but it has unfortunately lost much of its history to neglect. We should be proud of the history that remains in our city, and I believe it would be ideal to do all that we can to protect the history we still have left.