North Lake Station Leeblain Station Gunflint Narrows Station
Leeblain was located at Milepost 83 on the PAD&W. It was one of the original stations on the line, as well as a proposed town.
Leeblain began as a workers camp during the construction of the railway in 1892. Situated on a bay on northwest shore of Gunflint Lake, it was probably home to hundreds of labourers at its peak. These men were likely responsible for building rock ovens around the site, which they used to bake bread. There were at least four, possibly five, ovens in the area.
In November, construction began on a station at the site. Because of the geography of the area, and its proximity the Canada-US border, it would be the Canadian terminus of the line, complete with a station and roundhouse/repair facilities. The station was the only structure west of Stanley (MP 19) that was built with sawn lumber and measured 40 feet by 24 feet (12.2m x 7.3m). It also had a 1200-foot (365.8m) siding and 1100-foot (335.3m) spur to a ballast pit.
The new station and railway facilities would need a town to support it, which was christened during a visit by dignitaries marking the completion of the railway on January 4, 1893. There was some discussion amongst those assembled as to what name to adopt; it was eventually decided to use “Leeblain,” which was an amalgamation of Lee and Blain. Arthur B. Lee and Hugh Blain were two prominent Toronto businessmen (Rice, Lewis & Son and Eby, Blain & Company respectively) who were key investors in the PAD&W.
In addition to the station, there were several other structures at Leeblain, including a hotel, which was located approximately 650 feet (200m) east of the station on the shore of the lake. It was operated by Adolph Perras for an unknown period of time, and he is the only known resident of the town.
Following the failure of the Paulson Mine venture, the importance of the Leeblain declined rapidly and while the station remained, people in the area tended to congregate at Gunflint Narrows, two miles to the west. Starting in 1902, trains stopped running past North Lake Station (MP 71) and in 1909, a 1000-foot (305m) trestle on North Lake (MP 74) burned in a forest fire, severing the line to the west.
For more information, please read my article in the Thunder Bay Museum’s Papers & Records here.
Link to the 1911 map.
There are a number of videos of the remains of Leeblain from 1997 to the present in the YouTube playlist below.