Welcome to the Engine 1095 Restoration Project website
After 41 years in Confederation Park, a restoration of “Engine 1095”, aka “The Spirit of Sir John A.”, is now in the planning process.This project has had several false starts in the past, but this time has cleared several key hurdles and the time appears to be right for moving ahead.
In 2006 several Kingston people with an interest in railway history noted that engine 1095 was arguably the most-photographed artefact in the Kingston downtown area. Every busload of visitors made a bee-line to have their pictures taken in front of locomotive, perhaps without even realising that it stood right where trains stopped to load and unload passengers and their baggage for over 75 years. This interest in 1095 was despite its poor condition and lack of access behind a fence. These latter points were not lost on railway enthusiasts and it was decided to find a way to correct the situation.
Under the auspices of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association(CRHA), Kingston Division, an approach was made to the City of Kingston, the owner of the locomotive, to see if they would be interested in a survey and recommendations to restore (and preserve) 1095 to an historically-accurate visual condition. The survey and report were completed in August 2007 and presented to the City Cultural and Heritage Department Director and his staff; the document was well received by the City. Since that time the 1095 restoration project has moved through the City administration and now (November 2007) is a budget line item for the coming fiscal year. Of course the project will not be completed in a year, but the current volunteer group is targeting 2013 for completion. At the date engine 1095 will be 100 years old, a suitable benchmark!
The “Engine 1095 Restorers” have begun to assemble a group of people who will have the interest and skills needed to make this happen. Some 45 people have expressed interest in participating, and some of these attended a first meeting in October. This has enabled us to start a website and newsletter which should broaden the exposure of the Project to the public and bring forth the special skills needed to raise funds, manage the project and provide the requisite technical expertise. In addition upcoming presentations to local business and professional groups will be used to identify interested volunteers.
What are the reasons for this Project?
Engine 1095 represents more to Kingston than just a prominent photo stop. Having been manufactured a few blocks down Ontario Street shows that Kingston was once a heavy-industry town: the Canadian Locomotive Company was in operation for 114 years and built over 3000 steam, electric and diesel locomotives. Engine 1095 was one of these and was part of a contract for 25 such engines for Canadian Pacific. Only two of this Kingston-built group still exist: 1095 and 1098, the latter a rusty hulk stored in Pennsylvania.
A second important reason for restoring 1095 is to remind us that railways once provided the main means of travel in Canada and elsewhere. 1095 is sitting on track used by Canadian Pacific, in front of the “K&P”( a CP subsidiary, the “Kingston & Pembroke Ry.”) station. This station was one of four in Kingston (all still extant) used over the past 150 years to connect people to the rest of the country and continent. The context and location of the 1095 display are correct for this historic purpose.
Is steam locomotive restoration something new?
No, this has been going on for the nearly fifty years since steam last ran on the main lines in Canada. Active groups such as the Bytown Railway Society in Ottawa and the CRHA in Delson QC have restored steam and diesel locomotives for museum display and operation. Their handiwork can be seen at the Canada Science and Technology Centre in Ottawa and at “Exporail” in Delson/St. Constant QC.
Other groups such as the South Simcoe Railway, and the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society in St. Thomas ON have undertaken similar projects. Both of these organisations both run and display steam locomotives. Cities such as Barrie and Windsor are looking to restore their engines in a similar fashion to 1095.