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Monday, October 10, 2016

Doors, they are a opening in St. Thomas, Ontario

   One-Tank Trip for Oct. 8-16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   If summer whizzed by too quickly to do it all, it’s still not too late to catch an event – the last one of the season – in St. Thomas before the doors close.
   Known as the “Railway City,” it’s opening the doors to the public for tours at 15 heritage landmarks next Saturday (Oct. 15).
   It’s one of the Doors Open events presented by the Ontario Heritage Trust featuring “unique and most fascinating cultural sites to explore the stories hiding inside.”
   This free event will have the sites open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., while the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre is open until 5 p.m.
   St. Thomas was settled in 1810 and is “filled with some amazing examples of built heritage landmarks that have survived over the years,” Doors Open organizers say.
Visitors can tour the Old St. Thomas Church from 1824 that’s the oldest brick structure in St. Thomas.
   Visitors can tour heritage landmarks including Old St. Thomas Church built in 1822 and take a guided tour and delve deeper into history at the library, museum and archives.

   Railways have been synonymous with St. Thomas since the completion of the London and Port Stanley Railway in 1856.
   At its peak, it was a railway hub and served as the primary stop on the Canadian shortcut between Detroit and Buffalo.
   By 1914, eight railway companies brought in more than 100 trains daily that created jobs and prosperity for the city.
   Doors Open visitors can check out the Elgin County Railway Museum (225 Wellington St.) in its 1913 building and see the century-old Michigan Central Railroad locomotive shops.
   Doors Open at the Elgin County Railway Museum includes viewing the CNR steam locomotive 5700
   Tours are available of the displays of railway artifacts, rolling stock equipment and the History in Motion model railway.
    Visitors can view Canadian National Railways steam locomotive number 5700, the centrepiece of the collection, and the interior of a caboose.
   Also on the agenda is the 86-year-old Michigan Central Railway bridge, the third on the site at King and Centre streets.
The Michigan Central Railway bridge, a landmark in St. Thomas, can be toured during Doors Open.
   Plans call for the rails to be replaced by what is being called “Canada’s first elevated park” and visitors can learn more about the history and future vision for the site while enjoying the views of the Kettle Creek Valley in full fall colours.

   Check it out
   Also on the tour list in St. Thomas:
   - Central United Church (135 Wellington St.), built in 1897 and known for its stained-glass windows and outstanding acoustics. Architect Sidney Badgley designed the church and Toronto’s Massey Hall.
   - Centre Street Baptist Church (28 Southwick St.) built in Romanesque revival style in 1879 and First United Church (7 Curtis St.), a Gothic revival built in 1971, and Knox Presbyterian Church (55 Hincks St.), circa 1883.
   - The Old St. Thomas Church and Churchyard (55 Walnut St.), a Gothic revival from 1824,
is the oldest in the former Talbot Settlement and the oldest brick structure in St. Thomas.
   - Elgin County Archives, since 2002 has been preserving and providing access to municipal government records and significant private collections, and the Elgin County Museum, an art deco 1939 building, both at 450 Sunset Drive.
   - Princess Avenue Playhouse (40 Princess Avenue) was designed in 1907 as a church and has been treating local audiences to live performances since 1967.
   - St. Thomas Armoury (40 Wilson Ave.) has been a mainstay in Elgin County since 1901 with its rectangular, gable-roofed building with crenelated corner towers.
Michigan Central Railway bridge
   - St. Thomas Fire Department (305 Wellington St.), in a 1972-era “Brutalist-style” building, and the St. Thomas Public Library (153 Curtis St.) that opened in 1974 as a joint venture of the city and Elgin County.
   - St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre (301 Talbot St.), part of the community for nearly 50 years with a collection of 900 works of art by local, regional, national and international artists.
   - Wellington Street Public School (50 Wellington St.), a Victorian historic landmark that closed in 2009, with its 19th-century blackboards, cloakrooms and classroom decor and reopened in 2016 as the STEAM Education Centre.

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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