Brockville re-opens historic tunnel as pedestrian tourist attraction

IP-enabled LED lights illuminate the interior of Brockville's recently revamped train tunnel. A sneak peek is set for this Thursday, July 27. Courtesy photo by Peter Vanderlind

Ruslan Matthews
Nation Valley News

BROCKVILLE — After a successful phase-one fundraiser of $3.3 million followed by a year of rehabilitation work, Brockville’s historic railway tunnel will mark its official opening on Saturday, Aug. 12 as part of the city’s Canada 150 celebrations.

City councillor David LeSueur and committee of locals spent over five years of fundraising, planning, and redeveloping the half-kilometre tunnel that had sat unused and barred to entry for almost five decades.

Originally constructed between 1854 and 1860, trains travelled through the tunnel until its 1969 closure. Part of a rail system connecting Toronto to Ottawa at the time, the tunnel runs under the city’s downtown core.

The underground structure was carefully remodelled, leaving as much of the tunnel — except for the pathway underfoot — untouched, according to the councillor.

The tunnel boasts being incredibly safe for its hi-tech inclusion of 24/7 security cameras, complimentary wifi, and cell boosters to allow for emergency services to be contacted. Other technological goodies include speakers along the interior of the tunnel playing the sound of trains passing by, and Internet controlled colour-changing Philips’ LED lights.

Storm Internet infrastructure underpins all of the wireless communication technology that has brought the now-sparkling tunnel into the 21st Century. The Eastern Ontario-based ISP was contracted to expand an existing wifi network at Brockville’s waterfront park through the length of the tunnel.

The project began as a fundraiser over five years ago, spearheaded by Councillor LeSueur and his committee of passionate Brockville residents who have patiently waited over 40 years to have the tunnel re-opened. With a successful first fundraising phase reached to reopen the tunnel, the committee continues to work toward a second phase that aims to generate a remaining $500,000. LeSueur says that he and his fellow committee are still searching for a few generous donors to reach that goal.

In addition to being Brockville’s Canada 150 celebration, LeSueur says the tunnel fun has just begun — with a grand opening courthouse parade, wedding celebrations already booked, Oktoberfest festivities, and even a 1km kids’ run organized for August 13.

A public preview event is also set this Thursday (July 27). The ‘sneak peek’ runs 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

 


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