Engine 1531 could be coming back home to Barrie

City staff recommended the engine be donated to the Simcoe County Museum

A different train of thought about the future of Engine 1531.

Barrie council general committee was all aboard an amendment on Monday night to ask city staff to provide further information concerning a cost-benefit analysis for locating the train engine at the Allandale station or the vicinity of the South Shore Centre rather than the Simcoe County Museum.

The amendment was put on the floor by Councillor Jim Harris.

It also asks that staff consult with Heritage Barrie and report back to general committee prior to the 2023 budget and business plan.

The staff report asked councillors to consider donating the steam engine to the Simcoe County Museum and to cover the more than $300,000 cost for the restoration of the engine.

Restoration costs would be included in the capital budget for the years 2022 to 2024.

The donation to the museum would also include the tender box and caboose. The museum would add the exhibit as part of a larger focus on the region’s railway heritage.

Engine 1531 was built in Quebec in 1910 and used by the CN Railway until the late 1950s when it was located at Allandale. According to a staff report, the engine was donated to the City of Barrie in 1960 and was originally placed on display on Lakeshore Drive for the community to enjoy. CN railway donated a caboose in 1995. The report said that although the railway pieces were never used in Barrie, the engine, tender box and caboose are representative of railway equipment that was used here.

When construction work began on Lakeshore Drive in 2008, the city moved the engine from the waterfront to the Simcoe County Museum to prevent further damage. The engine is currently on loan to the County per an executed letter of agreement.

“The display of Engine 1531 at the Simcoe County Museum is a good fit with the museum’s theme of Barrie and Simcoe County in the early 20th century, covering the period of late 1800s to early 1900s,” according to the staff report.

The amendment approved by general committee must be rubberstamped by city council at its next meeting on September 20.

Banner picture: Railpictures.ca/Photo by Eric May