CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

McKerrow- Where is it ?

McKerrow was/is a small railway siding on the CPR branch line west of Sudbury , Ontario , south of Lake Agnew and north of Espanola . It is 1.5 km east of the Junction of the TransCanada Highway (17) and highway 6 ( to Espanola and Manitoulin Island ) . It is 3 km west of where the railway bridges the Spanish River .

 At highway speed it takes almost 3 seconds to pass . There is no reason to stop... well...perhaps slow down for the turn north to Lake Agnew or south for a back way into Espanola .

McKerrow exists only because it was a siding on the CPR . A siding is a length of track , perhaps a mile or two long , that is built beside the main line track . Sidings are used to control opposing traffic on the mainline outside of major railyards . If two trains approach each other from opposite directions , one must switch to a siding until the other train passes . Then the waiting train may resume its course , pulling out of the siding back onto the mainline .

The CPR has such sidings all along its length . Some sidings became loading places for products and resources that could be transported out by rail . Towns and cities grew and developed their locations based on this access to markets . For a long time , the railway was the fastest and most reliable access available . In some cases , it still is .

In McKerrow's case , it never developed into a large centre . Some hopeful people built small homes across from the CPR section house , and even a general store . It was still a stop for local passengers but it never developed an economy for freight . Once local traffic and cartage took to the highways , the siding was not needed except for its original purpose . McKerrow had its moment in the past but it was only a few seconds in time .

If you take a little time to examine the picture showing McKerrow in
http://www.maps.google.ca/  , you will see a few small white buildings to the left . These buildings are used by the CPR for storage and supply for local maintenance business . That was the location of the CPR section house that my parents and sister moved to in early 1950 .

A spur line was built south from McKerrow in 1901 by the Manitoulin and North Shore railway ( later joined with Algoma Central to form AER ) to service the Pulp and Paper Mill being built in Espanola . This 3 mile spur was leased to the CPR as the M&NS was not finished its rail line from Sudbury to Espanola at that time .

By the time my Dad worked out of McKerrow , all AER lines were on a 999 year lease to the CPR since the 1930's . Only the short spur from McKerrow to the Mill is in operation today . AER was dissolved by 1958 and the remainder of its holdings went to the CPR .

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