GTR Community Hub – Stratford’s Open House Tour

The Grand Trunk Railroad’s appearance in Stratford in 1856 marked a significant moment in the town’s history. The arrival of the first engine, “The Toronto,” must have been a momentous occasion for the residents. In 1871, the Repair Shops were relocated to Stratford from Toronto, Hamilton, and Brantford, further cementing the town’s connection to the railroad industry.

Fast forward to October 21, 2023, and it’s heartwarming to hear that over 1000 people braved the drizzle to visit the last remaining partial building of the Grand Trunk Railroad/CNR Repair Shop. This building, with its impressive 15 feet of reinforced cement floor and geometric steel beams, is a testament to the town’s industrial heritage.


The open house seemed to have brought together generations of people with ties to the Repair Shop. Many attendees were reminiscing about their family members who had worked there, including grandfathers, uncles, dads, and even grandmothers who had joined the workforce during the war years. It’s a beautiful reminder of the historical importance of the Repair Shop to the community.

Newcomers to the city also had the opportunity to learn about the building’s significance from historians present at the event. The special section where attendees could write down their memories was a busy place, filled with stories and anecdotes that could help preserve the history and significance of the place.

The CNR’s musical band provided music for the “new kid on the block” The Stratford Shakespearean Festival in 1953 is a delightful connection between the railroad and the arts in the town’s history. It’s a testament to how different aspects of a town’s history can intersect and influence each other.

-Nancy Musselman