Monday, January 26, 2009
scenes from a shuttered 401 service centre
...well, they were a welcome break.
The province is overhauling the service centres along the freeway, many of which date back to the 1960s. While some have been razed and reconstructed in the past decade, such as Ingersoll westbound, others have not seen major renovations since fast food chains moved in back in the 1980s. The problem for any driver passing through southwestern Ontario is that all service centres west of London are either fully closed or have limited facilities (washrooms/telephones). No gas is available, requiring drivers to make significant drives off 401 to find a fill up—signs erected by the province recommend exiting at the west end of Tilbury or waiting until London or Windsor.
Temporary services have been set up at the Tilbury service centres. As the main structures haven't been razed yet, I snapped photos of the eastbound complex, which housed Tim Horton's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Shell gas bar.
Voyageur restaurants) or partnered with an existing hospitality company (as was the case with Texaco, who linked up with Scott's, best known for their chicken villas). Tilbury and Dutton had 1867 restaurants, which I only remember for being the butt of family jokes/eye rolls and for almost always being stuck behind the smelliest person in line on the rare occasions we dared to eat at one.
Most early childhood trips along 401 did not involve a trip to a cafeteria. Dad loved to eat outdoors, so we took advantage of the picnic areas adjacent to the service centres and brought our lunch. The fare was sandwiches, cheese, the odd pickle and a jug of lemonade. The government later closed off most of the picnic areas during a round of budget cutbacks but several later sprang back to life.
The only cafeteria I recall eating at regularly was at the Wayfare at the westbound Gulf at West Lorne during trips back from Toronto. That service centre was one of the first to host a major chain (McDonald's) and is currently rubble.
UPDATE: Link to a postcard of one of the Texaco/Scott's service centres. If it's slated to go, I'll miss seeing the dome at Ingersoll (referred to as "Woodstock" on the postcard).