Train infrastructure was important to the development of tourism in Ontario, especially before the automobile age. This photograph shows Algonquin Park station on Cache Lake, named after Ontario’s oldest provincial park, in which it is located.
Opened in 1897, the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound (OA&PS) Railway provided the first easy access to Algonquin Park for logging purposes. The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) purchased the OA&PS Railway in the early 1900s and began promoting the Muskoka district (southwest of Algonquin Park) as a resort area and tourist destination.
In 1908, the GTR opened the Highland Inn, a successful tourist lodge located near Algonquin Park station, beyond the trees on the left in this photograph. While the elements—particularly snow—can prove challenging for rail travel, this photograph shows how trains provided year-round access to one of Ontario’s major tourist attractions.
This photograph, taken by professional Toronto-based photographer Gordon W. Powley in the mid-20th century, reflects the history of tourist access to Algonquin Park by rail. Beginning in the 1950s, efforts to return the park to a more natural state led to the demolition of the Highland Inn in 1956, followed by the eventual closure of all Algonquin Park rail lines.