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       * Theo Bullock

Lifelong Resident Theo Bullock Awarded a Lifetime Membership from Friends of Freeman Station

Theo-Bullock

Theo Bullock is 91 years young and was honoured recently as our newest lifetime member. Theo has resided in Aldershot his whole life. The Bullock name is well known in the area as one of Burlington’s first families and one of the original market garden families. Theo is a distinguished 61 year member of the Lion’s Club in Burlington, and is a veteran who honourably served his country during World War ll.

Back about 75 years, Theo can recall in vivid detail using the Burlington Junction Station in Freeman (affectionately called “Freeman Station”) for transporting their produce to markets beyond Burlington. Theo, as a young man, would personally transport his precious cargo to the Station in Freeman where the train would arrive each evening around 6:00 PM. After labelling each box, carton, case, or basket for shipping, the cargo would be loaded onto boxcars. The “fruit train,” as it was nicknamed, ran in the Summer months, and arrived from St Catharines. As it travelled to Freeman the train stopped many times along the way in such towns as Grimsby & Smithville plus many other communities, picking up produce for shipment from local farmers and market gardeners. The fruit train travelled across the Beach Strip, past the old Brant Inn, located on the Southeast corner of Lakeshore Road and Maple Avenue, and then up to Freeman.

When the train arrived in Freeman, it had to cross over Brant Street.  Then the engineer would reverse the whole train and back it into the loading area located close to where the Burlington Junction station was originally located on the west side of Brant Street. University students rode the train on its entire route and quickly disembarked to begin loading the boxcars. This was a great summer job for these students. They were very quick at it, and the train cars would be fully loaded in about 20 minutes. When ready, the fruit train left Freeman bound for Toronto, and on to other markets across Canada, Europe and Africa.

Young Theo would return home each evening and join his family still harvesting their produce, and they would be preparing new shipments for the fruit train when it arrived the next evening in Freeman. It was hard work, but it also was a labour of love, not just for the Bullock family, but all of the area farmers who did the same kind of work each day. These were the dedicated families who helped establish Burlington as the prosperous and beautiful city that we all enjoy today.

Theo Bullock has generously shared his memories with the Friends of Freeman Station, and will continue to do so as we make progress to have this beautiful historic train station totally renovated. We are very grateful for his assistance in retelling his stories, mainly for the benefit of our younger generations, just to let them know how it was really done in the good old days. It’s all part of Burlington’s history and it needs to be preserved. Theo is a real Burlington treasure, and we thank him for his story telling, and his generous donation to Friends of Freeman Station.

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Train

Video by Kevin Davies; photography by Bob Chambers, Bob Miller, Nikki Wesley, John Mellow, Joel Waterman, Denny Williams, Alan Harrington, Al Pettman and others (by permission)