The original Freeman Station (also referred to as the Burlington Junction) was built in the 1850s and serviced the Village of Freeman and surrounding communities for over 130 years. The station transported both people and goods including fruit, which made it a hub of activity in the latter half of the 19th century and well into the 20th century.
The Village of Freeman is named after Joshua Freeman who acquired property in Nelson Township in 1818. Joshua built a home on the Northeast corner of Brant Street and Plains Road. He and sons Edwin and Wesley farmed this property for many years. Edwin built a house at 906 Brant Street which remains one of the last vestiges of the Village.
In 1850, the Great Western Railroad built a railway station on a site near Brant Street in the area that became the Village of Freeman. In 1892, the Grand Trunk Railway bought the Great Western Railroad. Twelve years later, the original building burnt down in a fire. In 1906, the Great Trunk Railway built a new station at ‘Freeman’ which could accommodate both passengers and freight.
Freeman Station was a major hub for shipping fruit; trains leaving the station were often called “The Fruit Train”. Farmers came to the station with their produce which was loaded into refrigerated cars for shipment. Theo Bullock, a World War II veteran, experienced the bustling station first hand and shared his memories of being a part of a fruit growing family. He recounted the numerous times he prepared daily shipments with his family and brought them to Freeman Station. Each box would be labelled for shipping and put onto boxcars. When the train crossed Brant Street it had to then reverse and back into the Freeman Station loading area. The train would arrive at 6PM in the evening, after loading Theo would then return to his family who were still harvesting produce to be shipped the following day (Friends of Freeman Station 2014).
Although the transportation of produce was the main activity at Freeman Station, the station did accommodate passenger trains. Records show that soldiers of the First World War left Freeman Station to fight overseas (Friends of Freeman Station 2014). The first contingent left Burlington on August 17, 1914. Led by bag pipers, the soldiers marched up Brant Street to board a train at Freeman Station (Machan 1997).
When the fate of Freeman Station was in question, members of the community fought to save the historic building. A citizen committee was created in 2011 and it was named ‘The Friends of Freeman Station’. Among other goals, this group is committed to restoring and securing a location for Freeman station. In April of 2012, Burlington City Council approved the relocation of Freeman Station to land owned by Ashland Inc. The building is currently undergoing restoration.
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Freeman Station - This station served as the hub for transporting Burlington’s fruit all over the world. The location in the heart of agricultural land and the company’s established role in the shipping of fruit attracted canneries and associated industries to the Village of Freeman.
906 Brant Street “Edwin Freeman House” – This house was built in 1885 for Edwin Freeman. The Freeman family settled the Village of Freeman and operated the general store and post office. Five generations of the family lived in this house and it is one of the last vestiges of the village.