||May 26, 2000
South River station gets 2nd life
||The South River Railway Station in its prime.
This week’s column looks at the restoration of the South River railway
station, and the new history book on South River’s neighbour Machar Township
The South River railway station is one of 30 of the original 100 CNR
railway stations left, and the only one railside. The station has been
in mothballs since it closed in 1986. The Ontario Northland’s Northlander
will still pickup and drop-off passengers there.
In 1998 a group of interested citizens formed a committee to save the
station. This was done in partnership with the South River and Machar Township
councils who supported the initiative in principle.
The committee got a 75% grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund,
with the remainder coming from the two councils, to carry out a feasibility
study. A public meeting was held for public input to the planners
doing the study. The support was enthusiastic as long as the initiative
did not impact financially on the local ratepayers. The CNR, the Library
Board, and the province were also supportive. The CNR would make the property
available to South River for a token amount.
The draft report of the planners was presented in March 2000 with input
sought from all stakeholders.
It appears that the project will go ahead and that the South River-Machar
Union Public Library will relocate there.
The library rental and utility costs could be transferred to the new
site. The heritage aspect of the project would be the restored building
and grounds, and an enhanced local history presence, depending on space
available. The addition of a basement might allow for a small museum.
The final decision will be made this week by the South River Council
with input from Machar Township.
The timing is ideal for this initiative since MPP Ernie Eves announced
in his recent budget that funding for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund
has been doubled from 30 to 60 million dollars a year. The money
will be available for several things the station would provide—improved
infrastructure, tourism, telecommunications, and community foundations.
Also the Ontario Heritage Foundation, as reported last week, has extensive
new funding available for restoration and for maintenance of historical
sites. With these sources, and corporate and private support the
success of the project should be assured.
With amalgamation in the wind, an anticipated increase in tourism, and
things like the pending centennial of South River’s incorporation (2007)
the station can be a positive factor on these and other fronts.
Machar Township History Book
Machar Township (population 800—double in the summer) abutting South River
has a fine new history book called Journey Through Whispering Pines—A History
of the Township of Machar, 1875-2000.
Marion Morris, whose father Ed Sohm was the Reeve of Machar for two
terms in the mid-1960s, has coordinated the volunteer team of 4 women
that produced the book. Over 80 submissions from various sources
have been included. Jeananne Brooks, Helen Fenner, and councillor Edna
Coughlin are the other members of the committee.
Readable and valuable
They have produced a very readable and valuable publication with many photographs
and interesting stories.
A thousand copies of the book will be available, and it appears that
it will be in short supply once the summer residents arrive.
The cost of the books is $25. It is, or will be, available at the public
library in South River (386-0222), the Machar Municipal Office (386-7741)
or from members of the committee.
Receipts from early sales of the book will go to Machar Township to
cover the cost of printing. Additional sales will go directly to the South
River–Machar Union Public Library.
In the light of the possible library relocation mentioned above, this
money will be helpful to the library as it makes its plans for the future.
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