Last summer, when I worked as museum director with the Town of Clarke’s Beach, someone gave me this photo, which was identified as the Clarke’s Beach railway station. I was ready to publish it as such on the town’s Facebook page, when I was informed that this is the depiction of a railway station in another town. Which one? I didn’t know.
Seeking to identify the picture, I emailed the editor of Downhome magazine, with the hope that readers might be able to name the correct town.
Not long after my appeal was published, I received a personal communication from a friend, who said: “Just looking at a photo in the most recent issue of Downhome. It appears to me to be a photo of the railway station in Clarenville. The rise of the hill in the background, and even the dark building in the upper left, may be the station manager’s house. I know when Dad worked in that area, I was with him on a number of occasions. Even though it was much later than when this picture was taken, the landmarks look familiar. If it is Clarenville, the picture is looking east.”
Then, in the following issue of Downhome, two more people weighed in.
M. White of Corner Brook wrote: “With reference to the item on page 22 in the February issue, of the railway station: I am pretty certain that it is the railway station in Corner Brook. It looks like Station Road in the background, as it was around that time.”
Kenneth G. Pieroway of Conception Bay South had this to say: “The location in question is at the old train station in Corner Brook, probably just after the building of the mill. In the background is Humber Road.”
I contacted Pieroway, who is the author of two well-received books, Rails Across the Rock: A Then and Now Celebration of the Newfoundland Railway and Rails Around the Rock: A Then and Now Celebration of the Newfoundland Branchlines, seeking additional information.
“I did some checking,” he responded, “and this is what I came up with. The station was similar in design to the large ones constructed in Whitbourne, Clarenville, Lewisporte and Stephenville Crossing, but the main difference was that it had a stone exterior and was slightly larger than those aforementioned. In fact, it was, in all likelihood, the second largest during the pre-confederation Newfoundland Railway years. It was constructed sometime after the building of the Bowaters Pulp and Paper Mill established Corner Brook as the second largest community on the Island. The very last passenger train, CN Train No. 102, the eastbound Caribou, departed from there on the afternoon of July 2, 1969. Sometime in the early 1970’s, it was demolished to make way for the construction of the cloverleaf and access to the new Lewis Parkway.”
To my surprise, in the April issue of Downhome magazine, Baine Andrews wrote: “It appears to me to be a photo of the railway station in Clarenville, by the rise of the hill in the background and even the dark building in the upper left that may be the station manager’s house. When Dad worked in that area I was with him on a number of occasions, and even though it was much later than when this picture was taken, the landmarks look familiar. If it is Clarenville, the picture is looking east.”
Downhome editor added, “We heard from another reader, Sly Bennett…, who also believes this photo was taken in Clarenville…. So the debate continues.”