All posts by Bob Lehto

BDRC presents LLRD to Peel Scale Modelers

On Tuesday, November 15th, BDRC team members were invited to present our vision for the historic Lower Level Railway Diorama which we are planning to build in the basement of the Freeman Station to depict life in the hamlet of Freeman and surrounds in the 1920’s, to the Peel Scale Modelers (PSM) monthly meeting.

sam_3183c We invited PSM to join us in the design of the diorama, the state-of-the-art audience involvement features we are planning (including lighting, sound effects, and computer control), and construction of specific models, buidings, vintage autos, horses and wagons, and early Twentieth-Century scenes which we will depict as the diorama grows and evolves over the next several years.

We were greeted enthusiastically by the more than 30 attendees, and several came forward to offer help.  Thanks, Peel Scale Modelers!

(Does anyone see a problem with the rail line in this mockup picture of the LLRD?  A 2017 free annual membership [value $ 20] to the first person who emails with the correct answer!)

P.S.  Thanks very much to the Burlington Gazette for its recent excellent write-up on our plans for the LLRD.  We are looking for one or more sponsors who share our vision and would like to make a 100% tax-deductible donation to help defray our construction costs.  We are at approximately $ 14,000 against that goal, and all construction effort will be done by volunteers — no one is paid.  Our target budget is $ 100,000 for a first-rate, state-of-the-art award-winning experience for our guests.  (By contrast, another project in Toronto, much more elaborate, has a million dollar budget.  We are not proposing that!)

Please email if you would like to get involved, or would like to contribute.

Pauline Grondin: “Life around Freeman Station: 1920”

On Saturday, November 19th, well-known professional storyteller Pauline Grondin again worked her magic as she related, first-person, her story of life around Freeman Station.   The year was 1920, and the Burlington Junction Station in Freeman was a vibrant hub of community business.   Pauline brought history to life for us as she related what’s happening around the village.  (A bit of gossip here and there?)

Nostalgia abounded.

Thanks, Pauline, for your many hours of research and preparation to bring this image of life around the Burlington Junction Station in Freeman back to life.


Norton family sponsors Freeman Station Waiting Room

Friends of Freeman Station has received a generous donation from Burlington's Mikalda Farms Ltd. (Norton family) to sponsor the passenger Waiting Room at the restored Burlington Junction Station in memory of their McMillan ancestors, Alexander Donald and Charlotte Campbell McMillan and their descendants, including daughter Effie McMillan, and her son Frank McMillan and wife Lillie May Boniface McMillan.  

The "McMillan Room" Waiting Room at the Freeman Station will be available as meeting space for use by small groups.  Completion of its restoration to early Twentieth-century appearance is now assured, and is almost finished, including newly paneled and painted walls, flooring, restored ceiling treatment, and reconstruction of the original windows including the distinctive Jane Irwin oval window at the end of the room.

Read the story of "A.D. McMillan, Fruit & Vegetable Grower" at
Our thanks to the Norton family for their generous support.

AD McMillan truck

CRHA Niagara visits Freeman Station

(June 24th) – the Niagara Division of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association stopped in the midst of their “Longest Day” tour this year at the Burlington Junction Station.  (It was a scheduled stop, and they were on time, in the best railway tradition!)  As is their annual practice, at the crack of dawn to take advantage of one of the longest days of the year, they meet to capture as many  great photos at prime railway trainspotting venues in southern Ontario as possible until the sun sets. Read more about these intrepid rail buffs at

Bob Chambers captured their inspection of restoration progress at Freeman Station.

CRHA visits Freeman Station

Where the boys… weren’t!

(5/24) What a joy to have 20 hard working young carpenters at the Station today.  The 37th Burlington Girl Guide Pathfinders and Rangers built mini-telephones and some wooden tote crates.  They also presented us with four drawings they did of the Station.  In 40 years when the Station is 150 years old  (and they’re in their mid-50’s) they’ll remember this event — so we built some long term goodwill.

Natural gas comes to Freeman Station!

Now, we ARE dedicated to restoring the 1906 Burlington Junction Station’s vintage appearance, but there’s some things we just can’t accomplish.  So instead of re-installing the old coal stoves, for the first time in history, the building will be cozy with modern heating.  We now have gas and hydro in the Station, and water & sewer services will come in soon — all new-fangled conveniences they never enjoyed in the early Twentieth Century, but hey!  Apologies in advance to those who fondly remember trips to the “out” house!

Public Notice!



John accepts the donation of James Arnold of framed Rules and Regulations of the Grand Trunk Railway, for permanent display at the 1906 GTR Burlington Junction Station.  The railway was established in 1852 by British investors, and eventually grew through construction and mergers to a system of almost 10,000 miles of trackage.  In 1923 it was merged into the Canadian National Railway system.  In the heyday of rail, more than 40 trains daily passed through Burlington, but passenger and freight trains are still a common every day sight in this busy rail corridor!




“W” Whistle post makes final “whistle stop”

Whistle posts along the railways reminded steam locomotive engineers on the Grand Trunk Railway, the Toronto Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, Hamilton and Northwestern Railway, Canadian National Railway, and the Hamilton Radial Electric Railway lines to sound the whistle at upcoming road crossings and other mileposts.  Given the frequency of rail traffic through Burlington Junction in the early Twentieth Century (typically, more than 40 trains a day), there must have been an almost continuous cacaphony for the locals. And when the last of them faded into history, a bit of nostalgia, too.

Whistle post P1080335
Through the generosity of a local Burlington family, one of these Whistle posts has just arrived at its new resting place at 1285 Fairview Street – home of the Burlington Junction Station.  Thanks to all who participated in retrieving it and bringing it to the Freeman Station... where, from time to time, one may hear – just faintly – a hint of the past!

Some background on Whistle posts can be read at

Canada 150 / Burlington Junction logo unveiling Saturday 4/30!

PhotoEditor-1461863676847In one of the first displays of the Canada 150 logo in the greater Burlington area, the Friends of Freeman Station welcomed Ariana Cuvin, the designer of the logo, for the unveiling.  Ariana’s was the winning design from over 300 entries in a nation-wide competition.  The distinctive graphic emblem celebrates the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, and year-long events will culminate on 1 July 2017, which coincides with the FOFS target date for completing the renovation of the historic 1906 Burlington Junction Railway Station.  FOFS applied for and was licensed to display the Canada 150 logo by the federal government during the coming year.  Thanks to Alan for his considerable efforts to make these arrangements.

Below (L to R):  Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, Ariana Cuvin, MP Karina Gould.