Early cannery buildings in 1998. These are now gone.©Copyright: Susan Foster
From the mid 19th to the early 20th century, railways were the major power brokers in Canada. Proximity to a railway could make or break a town and competition for the coveted railway lines was absolutely fierce.
Railways had their own agendas, one of which included remaining profitable. In order to cut their costs they would often pick up cheaper land just outside the actual town where they wanted to locate. They would then build satellite communities, borrow the nearby town's name and add the word STATION to the end, thereby maintaining a recognition factor and connection to the town. Although many of these satellite communities simply existed for the purposes of maintaining a station, trainyard, a few small shops and homes, a number of them eventually grew and were able to attract industries on their own. Several even expanded to eclipse the older, established parent community. Grafton Station was located 1.7 km. south of the parent village.
As was the common practise in the early 20th century many industries would establish 'worker's villages' offering housing, stores, schools, churches and any other amenities to attract and retain workers. Such was the case with the Canada Canning Company, who opened a plant alongside the railway in Grafton Station after the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) in 1904. There was a major train wreck on the line in 1911, the result of two boys playing with an open switch. Although both of kids were charged, it was ruled the CNR was negligent in not securing the switch.
Grafton Station was actually served by three railways at one time. The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR later CN) was located south of the CNR station east of Station Road. In 1913 the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) opened a parallel line with a station just west of Station Road. The CPR station was destroyed by fire believed to be incendiary in origin. It was quickly rebuilt and opened in January 1914. The CNR became part of Canadian National Railways (CN) in 1918, followed by the GTR in 1923. The original CNR line was abandoned around 1930.
Canada Canning provided employment for the Grafton community and surrounding area until the 1950s. The plant included a couple of large factories, worker's cabins, a bunkhouse and manager's house.
By 1998, the bunkhouse, workers' cabins and factory chimney, that used to be a landmark of sorts, had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Luckily the main factory building, a few other factory buildings, and a couple of company homes were still standing. A new housing development was beginning to take root around the old canning property.
As of 2009, a few remnants of the old canning factory still remain. These include a couple of factory buildings and a few foundations. The company homes are gone and the housing development around the factory continues to expand.
This small lakeside community, now officially part of the historic town of Grafton, still remains somewhat separated from the parent community by the railway tracks.