A Visit to the Historic Brockville Railway Tunnel


Here’s something many of you may not know:  the oldest railway tunnel in Canada still exists under the downtown core of my home town, Brockville, Ontario, located on the shores of the St Lawrence River at the eastern edge of The Thousand Islands.

Until the waterfront area at the bottom of Market Street was revitalized and turned into a venue for various family activities, I too was unaware of its existence, and even then doors to the entrance were always closed. Both the northern and southern portals have been upgraded and maintained by the City of Brockville, since the tunnel was acquired as part of a waterfront land deal between the City and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Several years ago a short portion at the southern entrance (about 80 feet) was upgraded and opened to the public during the day as a sort of museum.

In 2011 a committee of Brockville’s City Council was formed with the goal to open the tunnel end-to-end for residents and visitors and to eventually see the tunnel and its north gorge area connected as part of the Brock Trail system. Renovation construction started in August of 2016. On August 12, 2017, as part of the City’s Rails to Trails Festival and its Canada 150 celebrations, the renovated interior of the tunnel was opened to visitors to enjoy during the summer months.

This past Saturday, a beautiful autumn day, Jim and I joined my son and my brother, and his friend on the walk through. We were very impressed. The atmosphere has been complimented with music playing and sometimes the sounds of train wheels turning and whistles blowing. The strips of every changing coloured lights passing through the tunnel give the impression of train lights approaching and reflect off the stalagmites and dripping water on the walls.

Unfortunately, while packing to go to Brockville the day before, I neglected to check my camera. When I tried to shoot some photos, I discovered that I had left my SD card in my computer at home!  I had to rely on my cell phone. Next time I go I’ll make sure I have everything I need, including a tripod, but for now, here are a few shots.

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Southern Entrance

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Inside looking out

Some History

The tunnel was built between 1854 and 1860 to allow the fledging Brockville and Ottawa Railway to connect the Brockville industrial waterfront area to the outlying areas lying between the St Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.

On December 31 of 1860, the first small train, a wood-burning locomotive and two coaches came through the completed tunnel and the tunnel was officially open for traffic. The tunnel is arch-shaped, measuring 14 feet 9 inches from the top of the arch to the ground and 14 feet across. The overall length of the tunnel is 1721 feet in length and passes right under Brockville City Hall.

To learn more, click here: History of Brockville Railway Tunnel

Leaving Mesa Regal


The time has flown by this winter, probably because we were late arriving in Arizona in the fall. The last weeks were filled with a bit of pickleball and a whole lot of eating out with friends before saying goodbyes. I will really miss all those people who have become an integral part of our lives. But I am anxious to get back to my efficient, well equipped kitchen in Ontario.  It’s been over a month since I’ve had a properly working fridge, which meant we ate out too much.

We left Mesa Regal at noon on April 1st, after our motorhome played a trick on us – the leveling Jacks refused to rise up off the ground. It took about an hour before the problem was solved with an electric drill being used to manually lift them to their traveling position. When we finally got the bike loaded into the trailer, said our final goodbyes and started off, we realized that when we’d parked and covered the car in its storage spot, we’d left the GPS in it! Fortunately it was just a few streets away so we swung by, uncovered the car, retrieved the GPS and re-covered the car. We were already tired! Some lunch helped, and then we were on our way.

By 4:00 we were almost at the turn off for Tombstone. We decided to stop there for the night, and spend part of the next day seeing some of the things we missed the last time we visited that old city. We found a spot in the Stampede RV Park, within walking distance of all the attractions. In the morning, after breakfast served in the park’s Coach Stop, we took the trolley tour,

witnessed a comedy version of the notorious gunfights common in the old west

and looked around the Rose Museum, where the world’s largest rose is huge and presently blooming.

A big thanks goes out to Sue in the RV Park office who gave us a great summary of what to find and where.There are still a few more sites to see, but at 1:00 we knew if we were going to get out of Arizona before the day was out, we had to get back on the road.

We made it to Las Cruces, New Mexico before it was too dark, and stayed at the Coachlight Motel & RV Park.

Leaving the Warmth of Arizona Behind


The last few weeks in Mesa were so busy, and the internet connection so poor that I didn’t get to write about all the new and wonderful things we saw and did. Now we are on our way home, so I will fill in the other stories later, and complete the trip now.

Winslow Arizona

“Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona” is where we were late on the first day of our trip home. After battling high winds most of the day, Jim was ready for a break. It was a Sunday so the streets were nearly empty, but we took pictures of the man “standing on the corner” with his guitar and the “girl in the flatbed Ford,” lines from the popular Eagles tune Take It Easy that put this little town on the map. One shop was open, allowing us to pick up a couple of souvenirs before getting back on the road.

Standing on the Corner

Standing on the Corner

Girl in Flatbed Ford

Girl in Flatbed Ford

Amana Iowa

For the last few days we’ve kept on “truckin’”, partly because the weather has been too cold and wet to do any sightseeing, and partly because we have things we need to take care of at home. But today we did make another stop along the way. Jim had read about the Amana Colonies in Iowa, a group of seven villages that were established on 25,000 acres of land by several hundred True Inspirationalists of Germans, Swiss and Alsatians who fled Europe in 1854 to pursue Religious Freedom. They originally settled near Buffalo New York, but when that area became too crowded they purchased their acreage in the Iowa prairies, near the town of Victor. Since we were passing by the turn off from I-80 that would take us to them, and it was lunch time, we decided to make the ten mile detour.

It was well worth the time. We first stopped into the Schanz Furniture woodworking shop in South Amana, where we viewed the beautifully hand-crafted wooden creations and had a peek at works in progress. The friendly staff equipped us with a map and directions to find the several restaurants in the first and largest village of Amana. What a beautiful, old style village! We enjoyed a home-style lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn before climbing back into the already cold motor home, and getting back onto I-80. We managed to get ourselves to Princeton, Illinois before calling it a day.