MCR’s St. Thomas Shops, ca. 1920s. Courtesy of Elgin County Archives.
The city of St. Thomas, midway between the Detroit and Buffalo in southwestern Ontario, has been a railroad centre of major importance since 1873, when the Canada Southern Railway first made its headquarters there. In 1883, Canada Southern was leased to the Michigan Central Railroad and became a division of that line.
Freight and passenger car construction was carried out in the St. Thomas shops beginning in 1882. Passenger cars were originally standard wooden coaches of the period. Freight cars were MCR design, but custom built at the company’s Canadian division.
Several engines were also built at the St. Thomas shops.
The car shops remained very active as a repair facility until about 1958, when they were torn down by the New York Central, which had leased the Michigan Central in 1929. The Locomotive Shops now serves as the Elgin County Railway Museum.