Trains and Perth Road Village
by Peter Bird
My wife and I moved into the Perth Road
area about 18 years ago and after settling
down, wondered how Perth Road and Sydenham came about. The following synopsis (reprinted with permission from writer Ralph Boston) gave us some answers.
Today, with modern roads, cars and
trucks, it’s hard to realize how important railroads were 100 years ago. South Frontenac had forests that could support local industries and provide employment, but only if products could be transported economically to large markets. At that time, horses and wagons were not up to the task. Nor were local roads. Railroads were the answer. The Kingston and Pembroke
(K & P) and The Canadian Northern Ontario (CNO) brought logs and lumber south as far as Kingston, and logs to the paper mill at Strathcona. Railroads moved mining products to ports on Lake Ontario. Mica from South Frontenac was shipped to the U.S. (The world’s largest single sheet of mica was found in Sydenham.) Potash, iron ore and lead were also mined in the area. Prospecting, mining and processing ore
were important sources of employment.
Agricultural products were another source of local freight for the railways. They also were a boon to farmers in the area. For example, pigs were an important export from the Sydenham area, and potatoes from Perth Road Village. Raw milk in cans and drums was shipped to local creameries and cheese factories. This provided an important cash crop for many subsistence farmers trying to live off the land. Hunting, too was an important source of railway
traffic. Hunters used the train to access the
northern deer territory, and then to bring the
carcases out of the woods. One K&P station
reported 100 deer shipped out on a single
Photo of Grand Trunk / CN 4-8-2 Locomotive (looks like no. 6060) hauling passenger coaches (circa 1972) *
Hunters were not the only passengers on local trains. One Chaffey’s Locks resident reported using the CNR (Canadian National Railways) to go to and from work at the Strathcona paper mill. A Perth Road resident remembers people attending dances in Perth Road and then using the train to go home at Rock Lake. Apparently, the rule of the road was that if a single male was to be dropped off along the line anywhere, the train just slowed down and the guy dropped off. Misbehaving drunks were assisted with a push or a boot, usually down a steep slope and preferably into a wet ditch. If a man was accompanied by a lady, a full stop was made.
*Information about this locomotive may be inaccurate. Please let me know (Peter Bird) if
you have more information. Contact me via
Dave Kuhn through this website. Thanks