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Rails To Trails and Railway Stations

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medium_rr.tickets.jpgToday, former railway beds in many parts of the Eastern Townships are being converted to a new use: cycling and walking trails. The rails to trails movement has created a whole new natural, tourist, and recreational attraction in the region.

A number of former train stations have also escaped oblivion. After many years of neglect, a few of them have been converted to new uses as community centres, private residences, and businesses.

medium_railway2.jpgThe turn-of-the-century station in Acton Vale, for example, was saved and restored in 1983. Now the property of the Town, it houses an art gallery and tourist bureau. The attachment of the people of Acton Vale to their station is strong and sets an example to other communities. With its turrets, gables, and special decoration, the building is full of charm, and an important local heritage attraction.

Other well-preserved stations may be seen in Coaticook (pictured above), Richmond, Sherbrooke, and Highwater, to name a few. One, the former South Durham Station, has even been converted into a private museum. Sadly, most have faired less well, and have been demolished (the old Boston and Maine station in Beebe is a recent casualty). Others are threatened with demolition, Magog's being a case in point.

As significant features of our built heritage, these stations are worth preserving both for their architecture and for their significance as symbols of an important period in the region's history.