Take a look at a map, and you’ll see that any community worth its salt will have either A: a river, or B: a train track. Or A and B together. (Fancy!) Back in the day, those were the fastest ways to ship people and supplies: boats and trains. This was well before the days of highways.
Steinbach is probably one of the largest towns (cities?) to NOT have either a river or a train track running through it. (Though some may argue that the Stony Brook is a river… perhaps it once was… but today it’s merely a ditch which only contains water after it rains.)
Okay, so why did Steinbach never get a train station?
Well, it sort of did…way out in Giroux.
Giroux is a petite hamlet a few miles northeast of Steinbach…and when the train station was established there, it was called “Steinbach Station”. That was as close as that train was going to get to Steinbach, let me tell you.
And so we come back to the question: why did Steinbach never get a train station?
You’ve probably already guessed that this has a lot to do with religion.
The folks who settled Steinbach followed their religious leaders, who viewed train stations as being the link to all sorts of worldly vices. They figured keep the trains out, you’d keep the “world” out. Something like that. And so, no train station for Steinbach.
The Giroux Railway Station opened in the 1890’s…but I can’t find any info as to when it closed up shop. I imagine it may have been sometime in the 1950’s, which I think is around the time the Giroux United Church may have closed, as the congregation was mainly coming from Steinbach by that time anyway. (The church has since been converted into Philip’s Magical Paradise, which looks like a castle…it’ll be closing soon, so if you want to visit, you should probably do it this summer.)
Isn’t it interesting that Giroux, which was a growing community with a train station, somehow languished in population, while Steinbach, with no port nor station, continued to grow?
The lack of a train station in Steinbach encouraged and accommodated the growth of the shipping industry. To this day, many trucking transport services are based out of Steinbach. Penner International and Big Freight are two that come to mind, but there are many, many more. Some are big companies, and others are small independents. I’ve met many people who have moved here because they were able to land a decent-paying job as a truck driver. Then there are all the mechanical services and whatnot, serving the trucking industry. I’m not sure this trucking boom would’ve happened if Steinbach Station had been located in Steinbach.
Also, I appreciate the fact that I never have to sit in my car, waiting for the train to go by. That’s nice.
But I do have to say that it makes me a little sad, that Giroux did not continue to boom. People still live there…and there are some very interesting-looking, very old-looking houses there. It’s evident that Giroux used to be hopping. It continues to be small and quirky and affordable…so I’m hoping that perhaps someday Giroux will experience a renaissance!