Giroux and Nelson: A Railway Mystery

After visiting the former townsite of Nelson, I got to thinking about Giroux again.

It’s just so weird. I mean, Nelson was supposed to be this big booming town, and it was planted exactly where it was because they all expected there would be a railway station there. Same with Giroux. Like Nelson, Giroux was established in anticipation of the railway.

It’s just that, there was one significant difference between these two towns, and that is the fact that the railway changed its mind and never came new Nelson. But in Giroux, that plan went ahead. It was called “Steinbach Station” and grew to become Giroux.

So interesting, how a lack of a train station killed Nelson. Yet having a train station couldn’t keep Giroux alive.

I mean no shade on Giroux, it does still exist (unlike Nelson)… but upon a drive through town you can’t help but notice that perhaps this village has seen better days. Its church became a museum… which then became a closed museum. Its public school closed. Its community hall was sold. And what were maybe once grand homes playing host to travelers from far and wide, are today looking maybe a little less grand (though still fascinating — what must be in those attics!).

I try to imagine what Giroux was like in its heyday.

Nelson bled out its people mostly to Morden, many moving their homes to the new site of the railway.

Giroux, on the other hand, simply faded in spite of its railway… even as Steinbach (which it had originally served) continued to grow and grow and grow without need of a train station.

It makes sense that Morden with is rail station sucked the townsfolk from Nelson. I mean, you see that same story across the prairies. It was natural. Towns would pop up where the railway was supposed to go, and then when they were ultimately bypassed, they’d become ghost towns just as quick.

It just kinda happened in reverse for “Steinbach Station”, aka Giroux. I guess it was Steinbach that kinda somehow managed to actually kill the station, what with its booming transport industry. I’m not sure how often you see that kind of story happen. Today the train still rumbles through Giroux all right… but it doesn’t stop.