By Darren Lum
Just imagine if Haliburton County is a bustling metropolis.
That’s what André Nichol a 2003 Haliburton Highlands Secondary School graduate and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) professional did to create the “fantasy map” for his Haliburton Regional Rail system.
“What if a million people moved to the area … and what would it look like?” he said. Using a pre-existing map of the area he traced his system on it to figure out what train lines there would be.
When it comes to Toronto the lifeline in terms of transit is Yonge Street. For Haliburton County it would be highways 35 and 118 and County Road 21 between Minden and Haliburton.
The system includes an homage to the history of the area. When trains were the main method of transportation the two main lines were what is now the Haliburton County Rail Trail and the IB&O (Irondale Bancroft and Ottawa) rail trail. Nichol said this system uses them as if they were never gone and that the other lines grew from them.
There are obvious station name choices made but a few may stand out for some people who live in the area. The Elsie station refers to the former post office in Irondale named for Elsie Gilbert a young girl who was loved in the area. It was later renamed Horseshoe Bridge Post Office. In 1946 the post office closed.
Part of the fun project included a logo based on the Swiss Federal Railways – his logo has a stylized “H” – with its opposing arrows and centred cross on a red background.
From August to December in 2014 he worked as Highlands East’s GIS and mapping specialist and became more knowledgeable of the area through his work.
After his work contracts for Highlands East and the Ministry of Transportation contract most recently in Toronto ended he had time to work on this fantasy map.
Nichols regularly returns to the area where his father Bob lives in Haliburton. He said when he presented the idea to the owners of the downtown Minden store Up River Trading Co. they were encouraging and supportive.
Although it has taken a few months to see his map on T-shirts he hopes the public appreciates his work enough to have it printed on other items.
With royalties coming as payment Nichols doesn’t expect to make a living from this design but will continue because of the creative fulfilment he feels.
Sharing a little bit of home with the rest of the world would be ideal but Nichols would appreciate if his designs make it south like the Boshkung Brewing Co. T-shirt he saw on a man in Toronto. “I’d like to see my T-shirt down there one day” he said.