52 Ancestors · Maternal · Prompts

#42 Charles T. Wilson

This week’s theme is adventure, so I thought I’d discuss my grandfather leaving Ontario and coming to Michigan in 1928. Charles Thompson Wilson arrived in Detroit, Michigan on April 11, 1928. On the border crossing document, the name of the ship is “C.N. 115” which stands for Canadian National #115. So instead of arriving on a ship, he arrived on a train from Windsor, Ontario through a railway tunnel under the Detroit River. The Michigan Central Railway Tunnel was completed in 1910. Before that rail cars were transported across the river by ferry. The Ambassador Bridge for car traffic was completed in 1929.


Just one week later, on April 18, 1928, he swore his declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen. He was living in Grosse Pointe at 152 Kerby. I’m not sure who he was living with; he had put John Purdy at 333 Mona Ave. in Detroit as his contact on his border passage document.


Week 42 (Oct. 14-20): Adventure

One thought on “#42 Charles T. Wilson

  1. I agree that “C.N. 115” stands for “Canadian National #115”. However, Canadian National Railway (and Grand Trunk Western Railroad) trains did NOT enjoy access to the Michigan Central Railroad (M.C.R.R.) Detroit River Tunnel before 1976. CN and GTW passenger trains were NEVER hosted at nearby Michigan Central Station (MCS).
    Brush Street Station (1867-1973) was THE Detroit terminal for CN / GTW passenger trains — a nearby slip hosted CN / GTW railroad car ferries. The area was eventually transformed into today’s GM Renaissance Center.
    I believe “C.N. 115” crossed the Detroit River by ferry. There are at least two candidates that I know of:
    LANSDOWNE (1884), a side-wheeler, racked up the longest-continuous career of any railroad car ferry, anywhere — 91 years. After the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission granted CN / GTW access to the tunnel in 1976, she enjoyed a brief retirement as a floating restaurant, docked at Cobo Hall. She was later scrapped at Buffalo in 2009.
    HURON (1875), a propeller-driven ferry, was “assembled” at Point Edward ON (today’s Sarnia). She shuttled between Sarnia and “Fort Gratiot” (today’s Port Huron) until 1891, when the original St. Clair Tunnel was completed. After transferring to the Detroit / Windsor route, she was eventually cut down to a barge, and was sold — she sank several times. She was eventually (c. 1986) towed to a slip at the former – Great Lakes Engineering Works (GLEW) in River Rouge MI, where she sank one last time — the iron-hulled HURON hulk is still-there.
    Click on the attached link, to see “the rest of the story”.

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