Komoka Railway Museum a Labour of Love
by Ron Steele, The London Free Press
(circa 1988 – exact date unknown)
Boyhood dreams come true at hands-on railway museum.
Ron Davis is a man dedicated to a doorway – a doorway to railroading’s steam era.
It’s a doorway through which long forgotten boyhood dreams come true; dreams of sitting in the station agent’s chair and operating a railway telegraph with its dit-dot-dit.
Or pulling the levellers to hoist a signal to an oncoming train. Or pumping a one-man hand-car down an imaginary track.
It’s billed as Ontario’s tiniest museum. The non-profit corporation formed by Davis and friends is self-supporting, raising money through bingos and craft sales.
The telegraph key is here for a visitor to try, so are the signal levellers and the hand-car, and the dream of every boy – model trains.
The 1850 station is complete with a pot-bellied stove, a ticket wicket, waiting room and platform, much as it was more than 100 years ago.
This village west of London was once the region’s railroad centre and had a vision of being a major city larger than London. That was in the 1850s and 1860s.
It boasted two railway stations and 15 hotels and taverns. It exported gravel and was the collection point for agricultural products being shipped to market.
The bustling excitement of that mid-19th century Komoka comes alive in the refurbished station amid the tools and signal lights and carts of steam-era Komoka.
In 1965, the now 58-year-old Davis quit his job of 10 years at CN Express to become the custodian at Parkview Public School in the village.
But his heart, and that of about 30 members of the museum corporation, are still with the railroad.
The Thames Valley Model Train Club has a large network of tracks and model trains in the station on Queen Street next to the community centre.
There are plans to acquire a locomotive and passenger car for permanent display on tracks beside the museum. The passenger car will show films and slides the organization has compiled on the history of railroading in Komoka and across Canada.
The museum, officially opened in 1986 by Senator (Choo-Choo) Charlie Turner of London, is closed for the winter. But tours are available on request.