As the old Agincourt Station comes down: A new chapter about to be written for important Scarborough transit stop

One of Toronto’s oldest neighborhoods is about to become home to one of the newest stations on the GO network. Agincourt’s railway history dates back to the 19th century. Station buildings have come and gone, like the residents themselves. Now after nearly 40 years of GO service, it’s getting an upgraded station. Through the eyes of one local family, here’s a look back at the old reliable stop that helped move generations.

For nearly a century, Agincourt GO Station has been sewn into the fabric of the Preston family’s history.

Cheryl Preston, like her father, was born and raised in the Scarborough community.

“As a child in the 1920s, my dad and his younger brother would venture over to the train station to visit with the ‘station master’, whose name was Newt Joynt,” said Cheryl, whose father, Howard Preston, turns 100 years old in November.

Like residents of the area, the local train station has a long and colourful history.

According to the Toronto Railway Historical Association, the first railway station in Agincourt was built in 1871 – a simple single storey wooden structure – put up not long before the community was founded.

“When dad was a child, the trains were coal-fired, and his mother wouldn’t be pleased if a train went by after she hung out her laundry.”

Cheryl Preston on memories of living next to a previous Agincourt Station.

A second station was built just east of the crossroads in 1884 by the Ontario and Quebec Railway, which later amalgamated with the Canadian Pacific Railway. This two-storey version featured a waiting room, a freight room and a station master’s office on the first floor with a station master’s living quarters on the second floor.

The station would eventually be demolished and never rebuilt.

Historical photo of an old wooden train station at Agincourt
From the Toronto Railway Historical Association’s website, this photo, from an unknown date in 1900 was the station at the time when it was owned by The Grand Trunk Railway. (Toronto Railway Historical Association photo)

The location of the first station would also eventually become home to the current iteration when Agincourt GO Station was added to the already well-established Stouffville line in 1982.

The original stations didn’t just help build the local economy, they also became part of the community’s identity – especially when the tracks are almost in your backyard, like they are for the Preston family.

“When dad was a child, the trains were coal-fired, and his mother wouldn’t be pleased if a train went by after she hung out her laundry,” Cheryl said.

She noted that her sister, Susan, who passed away a few years ago, was among those who used Agincourt GO when it first opened. It was within walking distance of the family home and she would often head down to Union Station.

Commuters getting on a GO Train in the 1980s during the winter
Cheryl’s sister Susan is seen here, wearing a red scarf and getting on the GO train with other commuters. When this photo was taken in 1981, the old CN station had been demolished and the new GO station hadn’t been built yet. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Preston)

“I remember she would look forward to sitting with other members of our Agincourt community and get caught up on local news during the commute,” Cheryl recalled.

Over the years, the old brick station has served countless customers and served as a hub for the community. From decorating windows as part of the Adopt-a-Station program to celebrating Christmas and Halloween to even community clean-ups, the facility is more than just a charming stop – it has brought people together.

Cheryl Preston standing in front of the old CN owned Agincourt train station
Cheryl Preston standing in front of the station when it was owned by CN in the 1970s. According to the Toronto Railway Historical Association only two trains per day stopped at Agincourt. in those days – about a decade later it would be demolished and make room for the Agincourt GO Station in 1982. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Preston)

Preston said the design of the old Agincourt GO Station fit in well with the area, considering there are many surrounding historic houses. She’s a bit sad to see the old brick station go, but is looking forward to seeing how the new one will benefit commuters and the community.

“For many years, we have witnessed many commuters waiting for trains in all kinds of weather and so I think it will be nice for them to have shelter and all the conveniences that the new station will offer,” she said.

The new station, expected to be complete by the end of 2021, will look very different from the design of its predecessors. (Metrolinx Photo)

The new Agincourt GO will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified with a new passenger pick-up and drop-off area, a new second track and platform as well as integrated shelters on the platforms to protect from the elements.

“Having personally grown up and lived in the Scarborough community my whole life it is particularly rewarding as I will be able to witness the benefits for years to come,” said Sean McCreight, Project Manager for the GO Expansion Early Works Program.

He and his team are excited to help write this new chapter in Agincourt’s railway history, one that will benefit generations to come.

The new features will better accommodate the additional customers Metrolinx anticipates in the future as the transit agency prepares for 15-minute, two-way, all-day service between Unionville and Union Station.

And for the Preston family, it’ll be a place where new travels and memories will begin.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist