Happy T’Rails to you

Joan Butler
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The Town of Conception Bay South (C.B.S.) is looking for photos and stories for community and history storyboards to be located along the T’Railway.

The town is encouraging residents, former residents, and those who have a connection to our communities, either as a summer resident or frequent visitor or tourist, to share any photos and stories about our town’s rich history.

The information is being collected as part of the long-awaited project to redevelop the former railway bed.

With funding from the provincial and federal governments, the town is transforming the 18-kilometre former railway bed into a walking and bicycling trail. The initial phase of the redevelopment started in the east end in Topsail where the T’Railway in neighbouring Paradise is already developed into walking trail.

The initial development work is expected to include completion of the trail to Pond Road in Kelligrews within the next year.

In addition to a world-class walking and bicycling trail, the T’Railway will feature some of the stories about C.B.S. The town’s rich history associated with the railway, the farming and fishing history of the communities that were established along Conception Bay, and the stories of the people who settled here and continue to live here are being collected to be incorporated into signage along the trail.

The series of historical and interpretative signage is being designed and prepared by the Johnson Family Foundation, which has extensive experience in similar projects throughout the province.

The upgrading of the T’Railway is being completed by the Grand Concourse Authority, which the town joined several years ago. The Authority is recognized for its background in trail development in the St. John’s region as well as throughout the province.

The T’Railway development at the east end of the community will link it to Paradise and the Grand Concourse, which is a series of walking trails and experiences in St. John’s and area.

The town has established a working committee consisting of members of council, town staff and community volunteers to direct the signage project.

Coun. Kirk Youden represents the town on the committee and he said that they have received considerable photos and stories, but are looking for much more.

There are many people who have photos of residents, community landmarks, trains, train stations, community wharves and activities. Youden encourages people who have such photos or stories to share them so they can be recorded and preserved for future generations.

C.B.S. was officially formed in 1973 from the six communities from Topsail to Upper Gullies. The communities of Foxtrap, Seal Cove and Lawrence Pond refused to join the town in 1973, however eventually became part of the town in the late 1980s.

The communities that comprise the town have been settled since the late 1700s. There is a long history. Many of the original family names are still here, such as Walsh, Butler, Smith, Fagan, Noseworthy, Kennedy and Dwyer.

Our history also includes the railway which was a vital link to St. John’s as well as a source of freight for local businesses.  

The province’s passenger train service stopped in 1969 and the trains stopped running in the province in 1988. Our town started working on the development of the T’Railway — a provincial park comprising the former railbed — in the 1990s and now finally revitalizing it into an invaluable community and provincial resource.

Please take some time and go through those photo albums and think about some stories that could be valuable for this community initiative.  

Contact Krista Perry at 834-3298 or email her at kperry@conceptionbaysouth.ca for more information on how to share your photos and stories about our town.

Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South.

She can be reached by email at joanbutler@ymail.com.

Organizations: Johnson Family Foundation, Grand Concourse Authority

Geographic location: Topsail, Paradise, Kelligrews Pond Road Foxtrap Seal Cove

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