Tuesday, June 09, 2009

more scenes from a shuttered 401 service centre

Dutton Service Centre Building

Back in January, I wrote a post on the revamping of the service centres along Highway 401 in southwestern Ontario, which has meant little-to-no services on the highway itself for those sufferi...enjoying the drive between Windsor and London. On the way back from my west coast adventure, I had my first opportunity to check out the current state of the eastbound facilities at Dutton.

Dutton Service Centre - Where Not to Park

The Dutton centre, which my family usually referred to as "West Lorne" due to another nearby town (that designation is used for the westbound facility), was our usual rest stop during trips to London or Waterloo Region. I don't recall using the facilities much before fast food chains entered the picture in the 1980s—before that, it was one of Shell's less-than-enticing 1867 cafeterias. By the time the facility closed a few months ago, services include a Shell gas bar, Mr. Sub, Tim Horton's and Wendy's.

Dutton Service Centre - Tourist Information
Dutton Service Centre - Faded Tourist Information

At one point, the province installed outdoor tourist information pillars at several service centres. The information at Dutton does not appear to have been touched for years, result in ghostly images of Toronto and a list of info centres that has gradually turned into a negative. Above the pillar, a tattered provincial flag decays in solidarity.

Dutton Service Centre - Faded Metro Toronto Map

Portions of a faded early 1990s provincial road map fill one side. Metropolitan Toronto boasts its pre-amalgamation/Mike Harris era highway downloading appearance. Good luck to any unprepared motorist looking for, say, Highway 407.

Dutton Service Centre - Rest Stop (2)
Dutton Service Centre - Rest Stop (3)

While gas is currently unavailable, travellers can stop for a break at the spartan temporary facilities. I overheard another traveller wonder why the leases for at least one stop west of London couldn't have been temporarily extended to allow for full services. They complained that the southwest was being treated as the armpit of Ontario yet again.

All photos taken May 31, 2009 - JB

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