This past weekend marked our third trip out to St.Thomas, Ontario, 20 minutes west of London, Ontario, to take a ride on Thomas the Tank engine with our kids.
The first trip was for Linus alone – he loved trains, especially Thomas. 2 years later is was Linus and Stewie and this year the 3 children with Berry being the most excited for the trip. She was inconsolable her first ride on the subway and was practically in tears when the train pulled into the station, but she kept reassuring us on the train before the trip “I’m not going to cry”, that she would be okay. Once the music started and the train started creeping slowly along the tracks for its 30 minute ride she proudly proclaimed “I’m not crying!”. Once we got back in the station she summarized her trip by stating “I didn’t cry”.
For those of you wondering about a Day out with Thomas, it is located in the Elgin County Railway Museum which is a registered non-profit charity with the function of preserving and restoring railway heritage for St. Thomas and surrounding area. The Elgin County Railway Museum is also known as the Railway Capital of Canada because a total of 26 railways have passed through town. This is due to the location which is the 1913 former Michigan Central Railroad Locomotive Shops juxtaposed to the Canada Southern Railway.
You purchase your tickets online and you choose the time you would like to ride the train. But be careful, if you miss your ride, they all book up quickly so you may not be able to hop on the next one, and because you have to book for a specific time, moving that time or date could be nearly impossible – this year we missed an opportunity to sleep at the Roger’s Centre after a Blue Jays game and a bris…
There are so many wonderful things to see for the train-lover of all ages, including locomotives, cabooses and other rolling stock. Additionally there are videos and historic photographs, railway artifacts, children’s activities, guided tours, music, food and more!
For the kids, in addition to the ride, they also receive an Official Jr. Engineer Certificate signed by Sir Topham Hatt – whom we met and had pictures taken with.
Here is the Jr. Engineer Certificate Day Out With Thomas event.
After riding Thomas, taking a lot of pictures, doing some crafts indoors and then heading into town to grab a bite, we went to see Jumbo – the elephant hit by a train in 1885.
A replica Jumbo was erected in 1985 to mark the 100th anniversary. It was built in New Brunswick.
Considering Berry’s favourite animal the past month has been the elephant, this was a great albeit short stop on a hot, humid weekend.
We like St. Thomas and London and enjoy hanging around for the weekend. My wife and I have always felt that if the main strip in St. Thomas was cleaned up a little bit and had some more artsy stores it would be a wonderful tourist attraction because of its old town feel. Some local crafts, local foods, cafe’s, etc. would be a huge draw. Right now there are a lot of empty stores and some run down buildings. Sad.
The city, located at the intersection of two historical roads, was first settled in 1810. It was named the seat of the new Elgin County in 1844 and was incorporated as a village in 1852, as a town in 1861. In 1881 St. Thomas finally grew to become a city. Ten years after the incorporation as a town ( in 1871 ), the developing village of Millersburg, which included these lands east of the London and Port Stanley Railway, amalgamated with St. Thomas.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century several railways were constructed through the city, and St. Thomas became an important railway junction. A total of 26 railways have passed through the city since the first railway was completed in 1856. In the 1950s and 1960s, with the decline of the railway as a mode of transportation, other industry began to locate in the city, principally primary and secondary automotive manufacturing. There is a huge Ford plant in St. Thomas.
So check out the official Day out with Thomas website for events near you;