Tucked in the corner of the busy and bustling intersection of Edinburgh Road North and Paisley Road is a smiling floral train known as The Blossom Junction.
The train sits on a small area of green space right.
According to Martin Neumann, the City of Guelph’s Manager of Parks Operation and Forestry, the Blossom Junction was originally erected in 1996 as part of Guelph’s Communities in Bloom effort.
In 1997 the City of Guelph added the short section of the railroad track and by 1998 the coal car behind the engine was added.
The ever-happy train is a common focal point by Guelph’s Sunny Acres neighbourhood.
Oftentimes cars are stopped as freight trains slowly pass through the neighbourhood. Young families can be seen stopped at the green space, parents enjoying a shady spot under the trees or at the park bench while their children climb aboard the back of the train and enjoy a moment of imaginative play.
During the winter months the Blossom Junction disappears from the corner of Edinburgh and Paisley.
Once the weather turns too cold for the plants to survive the train is moved to Riverside Park, where preparations and plantings of the year’s blooms are completed in early May of each year. Mr. Neumann confirmed that Guelph’s award winning horticulture crew plants the florals on the train at Riverside Park, and by early-June the train is deployed back to its corner.
“This year, there are about 3,250 plants in the Blossom Junction: alternanthera, begonias, alyssum, and Dusty Miller, mainly,” said Mr. Neumann.
The train tracks nearby the Blossom Junction are now owned and operated by the Guelph Junction Railway, which is owned by the City of Guelph.
According to Kathleen Wall, collections and research coordinator at the Guelph Museum, the tracks were originally part of the Great Western Railway Company. Ms. Wall estimates that the train tracks were built sometime around 1872.
According to railway maps, around the 1860’s the tracks only went to the west side of Edinburgh, but didn’t cross Edinburgh or Paisley. However, by 1872 the tracks do appear on the maps, said Ms. Wall.
According to the City of Guelph’s website, the Guelph Junction Railway (GJR) was established in 1886, and the City of Guelph has owned the railway since 1908. GJR is still being operated by the city and is one of the few railroads owned by a municipality in Canada
Click here to read more history of GJR, curated by the Guelph Historical Railway Association.
Do you have some history to share about the Guelph Junction Railway? Do you remember when the Blossom Junction was erected over twenty years ago? Share in the comments below!