The world’s oldest baseball field, Jumbo the Elephant and North America’s smallest train station, Ontario

I love finding the less popular attractions and treading the off beaten track. For me, the more unusual the better. As you can tell by the title of this post, I successfully found three of these wonders whilst road tripping through London, Ontario.

First on the list was the Labatt Memorial Park. Originally named Tecumseh Park, this baseball field held its first game on 4th May 1877. It was renamed in 1936 by British general and first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, who was obsessed with renaming places after England. Although listed in the Guinness World Records as the oldest operating baseball diamond in the world, this field had to fight for its title. In 2007, the Guinness World Records listed the Fuller Field in Clinton, Massachusetts as the oldest operating baseball field much to the dismay of the residents of London, Ontario.

After digging deep into the history records of the field, it was found that the Fuller Field held its first game in 1878 a whole year after Labatt Park’s first game in 1877. In the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, the records were finally set straight and on page 191, Labatt Park was proudly and rightfully listed.

We were hoping to just poke our heads in to take a few photos but luckily for us, they had a few games going so we got to see the field in action. I don’t follow any kind of sports, so after some confused but enthusiastic cheering on my part, we headed back to the car and to our next stop.

An Osprey in their nest, if you look closely you can see the head sticking up

Our next stop was to see the memorial of Jumbo the Elephant. An African elephant, Jumbo travelled with the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1885. One night after a show, poor Jumbo was being put back onto the train when an unexpected freight train came flying down the tracks. With no time to for Jumbo to get out of the way he was unfortunately struck and killed.

100 years later, this concrete statue was installed by the city of St. Thomas in commemoration of the great elephant, who is arguably the most renowned circus animal of all time. At 138 tons, it is the largest of the concrete statues created by sculptor, Winston Bronnum.

This elephant is the original source of the word jumbo, with this statue built to size, you can see why. He is also thought to be the inspiration to the film Dumbo which I have only watched once and still haven’t gotten over. I am very sensitive to animals being treated badly, fictional or non fictional. Even the word Dumbo gets me tearing up, I know I’m a big baby but I can’t help it!

In contrast to the largest we then headed to the smallest to see North America’s smallest train station, Union Station.

Just below the Sparta Road Bridge in Union, awaits the little station. Barely larger than a garden shed, this unstaffed station served the nearby community of Union up until 1957. It now runs a tourist train from Port Stanley to St. Thomas which if I had more time, I would have loved to of gone aboard!

The station is right by a residential house which is why my photos are from the bridge and not from below. If you do visit, please be respectful of the resident’s privacy, there is a hiking trail nearby that you can access the station from if you want a closer look. I’m sure the residents don’t mind but I am always extra cautious not to annoy anyone whilst travelling, I’d hate to give us tourists a bad rep!

11 Comments

  1. I LOVE this post on so many levels! The osprey nest reminded me of travels in Europe where the cranes nested on rooftops. The tiny train station reminded me of the first Peter Dinklage movie I ever saw, The Station Agent (If you haven’t seen it, DO!). Your tender heart mirrors my own; Black Beauty made me cry every time I read it (about five times). I don’t care for baseball but loved the history of the field. And your consideration of the folks living adjacent to the station…

    Liked by 1 person

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