Winnitoba train station near Caddy Lake destroyed in forest fire

A small train station built in the 1920s was destroyed in the forest fire near Caddy Lake along the Manitoba-Ontario border overnight on Wednesday.

Via Rail’s Winnitoba station built in 1920s, destroyed Wednesday in Whiteshell blaze

The Winnitoba train station burned down overnight Wednesday. (courtesy of Ian Baragar)

A small train station built in the 1920s was destroyed in the forest fire near Caddy Lake along the Manitoba-Ontario border overnight Wednesday.

The Winnitoba train station was once an important hub for the Whiteshell cottage community until it closed 16 years ago.

"It was the centre of the community ... on a Friday night or a Sunday while everybody was waiting for the train. That's where you caught up with everybody, met everybody," said Don Pincock, a nearby resident of one of about 50 cottages in the area.
Built in the 1920s, the Winnitoba train station used to be a community hub. It served approximately 50 cottages in the Caddy Lake area until it closed 16 years ago. (courtesy of Ian Baragar)

The station accommodated between 12 and 24 passengers. A pot-belly stove inside kept people warm.

Despite the closure of the train station, Via Rail trains still stopped to pick up and drop off passengers, said Pincock.

"A couple of the local residents, the younger generation have been attempting to restore it over the years," said Pincock.

Neighbours had leveled the floor and painted the small station, there were plans to renovate the floor, he said.

Winnitoba station likely burned down in seconds, said Pincock, despite surviving several fire seasons over the years.

"The big one was in 1929. A huge fire went through north of Florence Lake," said Pincock.

"Over the years, most every kid has carved their initials in the side of it so they're gone. It's just not there."

While neighbours are sad to see a piece of history burn down overnight, Pincock said, most are still worried about their cottages.

"The cool wet weather has helped....but the change in wind is very concerning," he said.

Gary Friesen, manager of the fire program with Manitoba Sustainable Development, said the station had "a lot of historic value and significance to people."

Fires are not expected to worsen over the next day, according to Friesen. 

with files from Susan Magas and Meagan Fiddler


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