Fletcher Community
"Our Railway"

In 1865 and 1870 the Canadian Southern Railway, a single line, was built. The original John Fletcher who came from Scotland in 1836 and who was the first school teacher in this vicinity, deeded seventeen acres to this railway company and the station here was called "Fletcher" in his honour.

The C.S.R. operated for a number of years. It was taken over as the Michigan Central and then as the New York Central, its present name.

In this Fletcher district John Hawkins, Sr., was section foreman for many years. He lost his life near the Sinclair side road. At that time his crew of men were John Beachill, Neil Edwards and Thomas Reaume. At his death his son Charles Hawkins took over as foreman and remained in that capacity until 1903 when he was appointed road supervisor and stationed at Ridgetown. While foreman here he had his father's gang for some years, and in addition some of the younger labourers- his brother John Hawkins, Frank Sainsbury, Thomas Buchanan, Thomas Feenan, Jack Kearns, Frank Kearns, and William Robertson (1901) who on the promotion of Charles Hawkins became foreman and continued as foreman until his retirement in 1948.

The gangs were comprised of three men and foreman until the railroad was completed as a double track in 1909. At this time the section crews were increased to eight men for a number of years, then gradually reduced to six, and finally, four.

Over the years there have been several station agents and night operators. Kal Grimes was agent for several years, followed by his brother John, William Staley, John Anguish, J. W. Robertson, and David Hoy. The latter was agent for nearly forty years, and was night operator for some time, as also were William and Dolph Staley, William Barry, John Rittenburg, and William McDonald.

In the early times the engines and cars were much smaller than the present ones. The engines burned wood, purchased from the settlers who at that time were clearing the land. The water was obtained at the Old Pond. This is situated west of the station. At first the rails were sixty pounds to the yard, and as the equipment became larger in stages the rails were also increased in size from 60 to 65, 80, 100, 105, and to the present weight of 127 pounds to the yard.

On April 25, 1947, the first Diesel operated. It was commonly known as "The Trolley". Now the line is almost completely dieselized, although there are still some of the older steam engines retained.

With changing conditions, on May 31, 1948, mail no longer came to Fletcher by train, but was delivered to Merlin by truck and then by Postmaster's (Jack Armstrong) car to Fletcher. The "Trolley" ceased to carry passengers in 1951. Express deilvery service was discontinued in January of 1955, and the station building now is not utilized for railway purposes but is leased for storage to the Montgomery Grain and Feeds, a new enterprise in Fletcher.

With the ebb and flow in the life span of "our" railway as it affects this community, at the present time only two of our residents, Phil Odette and Pete VanKerkhoven are still working with the N.Y.C., but the all-steel crack passenger trains and mile-long freights are thundering through Fletcher for later historians to write new chapters.

Wm. Robertson,
March 1, 1956.

Note: The Fletcher R.R. Station, closed in 1955, later sold to Mr. Ivan Stevenson 1957 and moved to his farm to be used as machine and work shop.]

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This page placed here 7 February 2007