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Nothing else has so fundamentally influenced the development of Canada. Our cities, our industries, the crops we grow, even our political institutions, have been shaped by the existence and development of railroads. They symbolize the best and worst of 19th-century dynamism, and represent the hope and dreams our forefathers held for this country.

Mission Statement

The members of the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society are dedicated to the preservation, restoration and operation of vintage railway equipment for the education and enjoyment of the public. To present our cultural heritage in a new and more meaningful light to generations past, present and future.

Our Objective

To operate an authentic live steam railway attraction for cultural preservation and economic revitalization.

Our History

The Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society was formed in 1986 for the preservation, restoration and operation of vintage railway equipment. Essex Terminal Railway Locomotive No.9 was selected as a practical project not only for its restorable condition but also as a steam engine that, once restored, could be operated without restriction at a minimal cost pulling a good sized tourist train a reasonable distance. Originally comprised primarily of Ontario Hydro workers the Society, with the support of Ontario Hydro, utilized the facilities at the Nanticoke Hydro Plant for storage and restoration work. The engine was carefully disassembled and stored in a climate controlled building while restoration work continued.

On September 15, 1988, registered Canadian charity status was granted (#0825976-56 - changed to 13932 2267 RR0001 in 1998) enabling the Society to issue tax receipts for donations to its projects.

By 1993, Hydro employees' interest and enthusiasm for the project had diminished. Union concerns and limited public access had also impaired their progress. Several groups had approached the Society about taking over the project. Faced with reducing membership and limited financial support, the Society membership reluctantly agreed that the project would have a better chance of completion in a more supportive environment. The willingness and experience of long time supporter Don Broadbear, St.Thomas' On Track movement (for the promotion of railway heritage in St.Thomas) and the availability of the Michigan Central shop made St.Thomas the obvious choice. On September 23, 1993, new officers were elected and with the support of CN Rail and the cooperation of Elgin County Railway Museum, agreements were made to use the Michigan Central Railway backshop which we now share with the Railway Museum and the CN Signal Department. On December 23, 1993 a five car train of locomotive parts arrived in St.Thomas where volunteers would sort over 500 parts and pieces as the restoration was reorganized and reassembly began.

The project was well received and by the end of the first year membership had grown from four members to eighty. Business, industry, high schools and colleges have all offered their support as Society volunteers seek out the tools and machinery required. St.Thomas also possesses an extraordinary resource in the remarkable number of residents with expertise and experience in steam locomotive maintenance and repair. To date well over 50,000 volunteer hours have brought the project beyond the halfway point. Unfortunately hard work alone is not enough. With volunteer labour the No.9 project could be completed for as little as $100,000. Originally estimated as a five year project, the work has gone so well that, if the required funds can be found, the project could be completed in less time.

No.9 was fired for the first time on October 9, 1997 and carried passengers for the first time on June 14, 1998. The project was completed on time and under budget.

October 2001 ownership of ETR No.9 was transferred from the Essex Terminal Railway to the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society. The operation was moved to St Jacobs/Waterloo in 2007 where it operates as the Waterloo Central Railway

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