Railfan locations in Ontario

A self-guiding railfan tour

Railfan, railfan--where do you see trains in Ontario? Well, here's a bunch of places for your enjoyment.

Cities And Sites


(1) Thanks to Paul Cordingley for these sites.

(2) All these locations are from the encyclopedic pages of Bill Miller, which can be accessed here. Note that this is a homepage to a very large site, so you'll want to explore a bit.

(3) These locations are all thanks to Mark Liddell. Access his home page here.

(4) Now, these sites would remain obscure and buried, were it not for Brian Switzer's input. In between toiling for some fellow who resides in the mighty vaults of Herkamur, Brian was kind enough to provide these goodies. Methinks we need also thank Herkamur here!

(5) Steve Adamson has provided these several goodies for we appreciative railfans. Enjoy.

(6) The recent changes in the Ontario rail map and operations are confusing and in a state of perpetual change, it seems, and Bob Heathorn has helped us understand some of them.

Back to the top

BAYVIEW (September 27, 2001)

I don't know much about this area, which is between Toronto/London/Niagara Falls, but as the TRAINS Magazine of September, 1998, makes abundantly clear, there are some 75 trains a day thru here, and any railfan going to Ontario needs to be aware of this place! Bayview is near the western edge of Hamilton Harbor on Lake Ontario, and is a major railroad junction in North America. I'd recommend you get onto the TRAINS online page and check out this railfan hotspot.

Traveling south of Toronto on the 403, follow the signs for the Botanical Gardens. From the Plains Road exit ramp, turn left onto Plains Road. In the vicinity of the Gardens, you should park in the Laking Gardens lot, which is part of the overall complex. Take the footbridge over the tracks. If you get to the Botanical Gardens main entrance, you know you've gone too far.

What? You don't subscribe to TRAINS? Well, you should, as you're missing a great magazine. Contact TRAINS here. Glen Larimer contributed a clarification for this entry.

Back to the top

BEDELL(January 23, 1999)

Bedell is a small (really small -- population of about 15 souls) crossroads town from which what little traffic which used to go up to Ottawa from the CP Toronto-Montreal mainline diverged from the mainline. That's no longer the case, as the line north of Bedell into Ottawa is now history. Bummer. However, as Steve Adamson comments: "[Bedell is still] a convenient spot to park the car and sit."

Thanks to Steve Adamson for the info on Bedell, and also to Bob Heathorn for the latest update.

Back to the top


To get here, take the highway 6 north exit from the 403, then turn right at the first stoplight (Plains Road).Then take the last left before your get to the bridge over the 403.It's a winding road, and you take the first right, which is Snake Road.Drive until it ends.

This is just east of Bayview Junction, and features very high traffic, as all trains running between Toronto, Buffalo, and Detroit pass thru here.Also, many Via, Amtrak, and GO passenger trains run thru here. The Oakville Subdivision is currently running at near maximum capacity. Snake Road is a pretty area with a bridge over the tracks.The road is a dead end, with only a cemetery and one house using it.

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top

GUELPH JUNCTION (September 27, 2001}

Note that in the next location, directions take you to Campbellville Road. Follow the directions to Campbellville Road, but don't turn on to it -- continue to the railroad crossing. Here, there is shade and a playground area for the kids to run off steam.

Recently, an automobile accident has nicely removed a fence which had been a railfan obstruction, and that's nice for photography, but the real draw here is the "beautiful noise" the growlers emit as they march up the hill to the junction and crossings.

With thanks to Glen Larimer for this addition to an important and famous railfan location.

Back to the top


To reach this, one of the most famous of Ontario train-watching locations, take the Guelph Line exit from the 401 south to Campbellville. Turn west onto Campbellville Road. Turn north onto Guelph Junction Road, which is the second road after you cross the tracks.

Guelph Junction is at mile 39 of the Canadian Pacific Galt Subdivision, just west of Campbellville. This is CP's mainline track between Toronto and Detroit, and is quite busy. Also, the Hamilton Subdivision connects here for a few trains headed to and from Buffalo. The best time to catch trains is from about 4:00 P.M. until dusk. Be advised that in the summer, this area can be quite hot and muggy. There is no shade, and that's a downer -- on the other hand, since summer is right short here, the wide open, sunny environs are welcomed much of the year. Sit in your car and soak up some heat between trains.

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top

HALTON HILLS AREA (September 14, 1998)

Take Highway 25 (now regional road 25) north of the 401. Turn east (right) onto 10 Sideroad. Then turn north (left) at 3rd Line (just before the crossing). Mile 30 is about 1/3 mile on the right.

Relatively high traffic here, and you are able to shoot slightly down at the locomotives. You can shoot here all day, with only a short half hour or so around 2:00 P.M. with bad light. The only drawback here is that people like to use the area as a dump [Webauthor's note: We have that problem down here in Frog Pond, too.].

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top

HAMILTON -- CN/RAILINK YARD (August 5, 1998)

From the 403, take the exit for Main Street East; turn left onto Bay Street. Drive down Bay until you get to the yard.

This facility, at milepoint 43.6 on the Grimsby Subdivision, is at the waterfront in Hamilton. This is an excellent place to shoot an entire train with the Hamilton Harbour and yard in the background. There is relatively high traffic here, and you can shoot RaiLink engines in the yard between trains. If you're lucky, you can shoot both CN and RaiLink beside each other. Trains have a speed restriction through the yard, making them excellent photographic targets.

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top

MERRICKVILLE (September 14, 1998)

On the Toronto-Montreal mainline, some 10 miles or 16 klics east of Smith's Falls. Besides being a nice place to watch the trains roll by, there are several B&B's, restaurants and numerous stores with antiques, crafts, decoys, etc. Also, there is a fine hobby shop, the Larkspur Line, which has been known to have some excellent values (Canadian dollar denominated, of course) on brass locomotives.

Thanks to Steve Adamson for this info.

Back to the top

OTTAWA -- OTTAWA CENTRAL YARD (January 23, 1999)

This was the former Canadian National Walkley yard, and now is home to the all-ALCO Ottawa Central. The yard is dead flat and easily observed from dirt roads both north and south of the strictly east-west tracks. To get there, take Bank Street south from downtown, and turn east on Johnson Road shortly after going over the tracks. Turn north on Albion Road and use your railfan's sense of direction to get trackside. Both the north and south roads paralleling the yard are reached from the east end of the yard from Conroy Road. The latter is a very busy road, so watch your driving, and don't look at the yard stuff until you're off Conroy!

With thanks to Bob Heathorn for this up-to-date info.

Back to the top

OTTAWA -- VIA RAIL STATION (February 28, 1999)

Unlike many other North American cities, Ottawa is quite happy with rail passenger transportation, thank you. Nothing says that better than the beautiful, relatively new passenger station downtown. Ottawa-Montreal and Ottawa-Toronto trains come and go here, and there are also frequently odds and ends from VIA parked on the southern side of the station area. I've even seen a snowplow there! This is a fine place to watch VIA, even in the cold season, as you can keep warm, fed and comfortable in the station, and just pop outside to take pix when a train arrives. Very civilized train watching, indeed.

To get to the station, head for downtown on the Queensway (ON-417) and follow the signs.

Back to the top

PARRY SOUND (September 14, 1998)

If you're flying in an airplane, or just reading a map, Parry Sound looks to have great potential, as both CN & CP mainlines cross here. Unfortunately, on the ground, the reality doesn't live up to the promise. CP crosses the entire town on an enormous bridge, with the CN far below [NOTE: Kind of like Altavista, Virginia, but I digress.]. See South Parry and Reynolds on this page for better CP/CN spots.

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top

REYNOLDS (August 5, 1998)

Three miles south of the town of Parry Sound, Reynolds hosts mile 20 of the Canadian Pacific's Parry Sound Sub. The track is easily accessible from highway 69. The unique feature of this area is the scenery, which consists of rock cuts and pine trees. Railfans should also note the fact that CN's very busy Bala Sub parallels this area for miles. [NOTE: See also SOUTH PARRY.]

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top

SMITH'S FALLS (January 23, 1999)

Even with all the changes in railroad activity in southeastern Ontario, Smith's Falls remains a great place to see trains. In fact, it may be more interesting than ever. Four ex- and current Canadian Pacific subdivisions meet here, as well as the now all-VIA ex-Canadian National Smith's Falls/Ottawa subdivision. Stir in 20-24 freights plus 8 VIA passenger trains daily, and you have a good place to watch trains. The North Bay/Smith's Falls ex-Chalk River subdivision is now a RaiLink line, so you can see some variety in the engines off that line.

The CP station is the place to watch trains in Smith's Falls. From ON-43 in the center of town, turn north on Daniel Street at the Tim Horton donut shop, and you can see the station. There are plenty of places to eat along ON-43. Also, Smith's Falls is in a pretty area, and an exploration of the beginnings of the infamous Canadian Shield can be based from the town.

Thanks to Bob Heathorn for this excellent information.

Back to the top

SOUTH PARRY (August 5, 1998)

Located about three miles south of the town of Parry Sound, South Parry is at about mile 147 of the Canadian National's Bala Subdivision. The photographic scenery is excellent here, with rock cuts and lots of pines. Beginning about 9:00 AM, you're liable to get trains every 30 minutes or so, all the way until dusk. Railfans should also note the fact that CP's Parry Sound Sub parallels this area for miles. [NOTE: See also REYNOLDS.]

With gratitude to Brian Switzer for this information.

Back to the top