DeWinton – De Winton – Dewinton – I’ve seen it spelled many ways. This small town, officially De Winton I am told, is close to and directly south of Calgary but it sees few visitors since it’s well off the main highway and can only be accessed by a back road. It sits along the CPR MacLeod Subdivision, a north/south mainline that connects Calgary to Lethbridge (via the connecting Aldersyde Subdivision). There is a passing siding here which was put to good use at the time of our visit. Also, and what brought us here, are the two old grain elevators and number of interesting stored railcars.
The first grain elevator, the most southerly one, is one of the oldest examples in our province. I could not find the exact date of construction, but it’s been confirmed to be prior to 1910. The second elevator appears a bit newer but I could not find a date on it either. Both were formerly owned by UGG (United Grain Growers) and are now in private hands.
Each grain elevator appears in reasonable condition, nice considering their age. Old elevators like old people often lean and bulge as they get older but these two are fairly straight and true. The southern elevator says Diamond Fertilizer on its sides.
At one time a third elevator once stood along side these two (exact position unknown), but it was gone by the 1930s.
I could not find any information on who owns the railcars. But I do know they have been here for some time. The two boxcars and the caboose were in DeWinton when we visited in 2005, but the other cars pictured were not.
Staring from the north, the first two are both former CPR baggage cars. Both were built by Canadian Car and Foundry (CC&F) in the years 1952 and 1948 respectively. Once retired from regular service, in the late sixties and early seventies, they were given to the maintenance of way department (MOW) and this arm of the company often got the hand-me-downs. One was converted to a tool car and the other was made into a diner and boarding car.
In the past, other railcars sat in the place of these baggage cars. On our visit in 2005, there were two examples of something called an RCC or Radio Control Car. These special railcars held the radio gear necessary to allow mid train helpers to communicate with the head end locomotives. They were converted from former locomotives themselves, and are examples of a rare model FM CPB16-4 from the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston Ontario. Originally dating from 1953 they were rebuilt to this form in 1971. The book “Constructed in Kingston” describes them being in De Winton as early as 1999 and they were still there on our visit six years later. But when they left and the others took their place is unknown. The last picture in our report shows these two cars.
The first boxcar, number #42816 was built in the early 1950s (builder unknown) and in later years was assigned exclusively to the GM plant in Oshawa Ontario. We are connected to that factory and own a 1981 Malibu “Iraqi Taxi” or Iraqibu” that was made there. Originally made as taxis to be used in Iraq, they never made it to that country on account of the Iran-Iraq war and so were sold in Canada instead and these oddballs have obtained minor celebrity status. Ours drives like new, although it sure does not look new.
The caboose, whose number I did not write down, was built in 1981 by the CPR Angus shops. This makes it an example from the last batch of cabooses CPR purchased, since they had plans to phase them out not long after.
The last boxcar, number 42506 was built by the Hawker Siddeley Company in Trenton Nova Scotia, in 1965. This factory, formerly the Eastern Car Company, then HS, then Lavalin, then Trenton Works, now makes wind turbine units. This boxcar like the other seen, was assigned to auto parts service. Both box cars are beaten and rusty.
While exploring the site, we were lucky enough to have not one but two trains pass by. The southbound train held the main while the northbound slipped past on the siding. Both trains were quite long.
On our visit a friendly cat greeted us. Quite healthy looking and clean and friendly, he was clearly a bit wild.
Update: January 2013. I have been contacted by a number of residents from the area and I guess the argument will continue. Some claim the name was and should be listed as DeWinton not the De Winton I claimed. However others say I am right. This is a battle for the ages!
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: September 2012.
Location: DeWinton – De Winton – Dewinton, Alberta.