Skyline to Refurbish Restaurant/Bar Railway Cars In $1.7 Billion Port McNicoll, ON Redevelopment
TORONTO, MAY 31, 2012 – Skyline International Development Inc.’s rezoning application to move the four Ossawippi Express railway cars from Orillia to Port McNicoll has been approved by Tay Township.
Skyline has plans to refurbish the cars and place them on Port McNicoll’s waterfront as part of the firm’s $1.7 billion redevelopment of the area. The cars will be part of a replica of the Town’s original train station.
As focal points of Port McNicoll’s new Heritage Park, the railway cars will join the historically significant S.S. Keewatin, the last Edwardian passenger steamship in the world, which will be transformed into a museum. The S.S. Keewatin will return home to Canada on June 23, 2012.
The focus on history is part of Skyline Chairman Gil Blutrich’s vision for this groundbreaking redevelopment on 825 acres of land once owned by Canadian Pacific Railway. This community will encompass residential, retail and a connection to the region’s trail system. History buff Blutrich fell in love with Port McNicoll years ago, and is fascinated by the area’s history as a transportation hub.
“The new waterfront park development will be a spectacular blend of the old and the new,” Blutrich says. “I believe strongly in preserving our Canadian heritage, and the S.S. Keewatin and Ossawippi Express cars hold places of honour in our proud history. Our master plan is to pay tribute to Port McNicoll’s past within a mixed-use community that will carry residences and businesses into the future in style.”
Blutrich believes it’s in all of us to leave the world better than we found it, and the development of Port McNicoll harbour will have a positive impact on the area and its people.
First opened to the public in 1972 by entrepreneur and restaurateur Jimmy Allison, The Ossawippi Express Dining Cars were inspired by Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock in his classic novel Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. At the time of the restaurant’s closing, it was owned by Terry McNaughton.
Coming full circle, the Ossawippi Express was named by Skyline CEO Michael Sneyd’s father, Doug Sneyd. Michael Sneyd was raised in Orillia and began his hospitality industry career as a busboy and waiter at the Ossawippi Express.
Now owned by Skyline, the four Ossawippi Express cars will be moved from Orillia by July 18, 2012, and are slated to be open as a restaurant and bar facility in Port McNicoll by summer 2013.
The four cars include:
ü  First Class Car No. 1431, was finished in 1923 and converted to a safety instruction car in 1962. It eventually housed the Orillia restaurant’s non-smoking dining facility.
ü  Car 9180 was built in 1953 and used by the CNR as a baggage car until its retirement from the railway. In Orillia, it housed the restaurant’s kitchen area.
ü  Hungerford No. 65 was built in 1913 as a sleeping car and eventually became the North Dining Car in Orillia.
ü  Refrigeration Car CN No. 10627 built by National Steel car of Hamilton in 1929, served as the Orillia restaurant’s refrigeration and freezer unit.
Along with refurbishing the cars, Skyline will build the replica train station and the 160-slip marina and yacht club facilities that are also part of the park. Port McNicoll is the gateway to the 30,000 islands that make up the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. The magnificent Heritage Park will return Port McNicoll to a major Ontario destination.

Leave a Reply