. … _ ..
. . ., .
. , .
, , .
0 _ ..
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• • •
• • . • .
CANADIAN 105 R A I L
This arrangement was short-lived, however, as a pressing need
for more cars obliged the Company to undertake car-building itself,
which, in turn, led ta the construction between 1896 and 1898 of
the new Hochelaga combined Repair Shops and Canstruction Plant, on
the northeast corner of Ste-Catherine and du Havre Streets. This
venture was obviously successful, as some 550 new cars were manu-
factured in these facilities up to the year 1906. However, the Com
pany decided that, from that time on, it would not build cars any
more, but rather would provide equipment only. This was the case
with the 703-series and 901-series streetcars.
However, the production of so many vehicles implied that lar
ger repair facilities would have to be considered sooner or later.
Consequently, the decision was taken on November 27,1907, to ac
quire a large tract of farmland in the St-Denis Ward, owned by Mr.
Nelson Bickerdike. This property extended from Vervais Road, today
Boulevard Cremazie, as for as the boundary of the Parish of Sault
au-Recollet at Sauve Street, and had on average width of 576 feet.
The total area was 75 arpents, approximately 2.8 million square
feet, and the cost was a modest $ 35,000. The name by which the
future shops were to be known was derived fram the nearby Village
of Youville, which was located at the narth end of the St-Denis
Street tramway line.
(1) For ease of reference to maps accampanying this article,
the City of Montreals arbitrary orientation has been
preferred over the true magnetic pole orientation; thus
north refers to a true northwest orientation, and so
(2) The Montreal GAZETTE: June 27, 1894.
In fact, the Montreal Tramways Company never made use of the
whole area purchased, but later sold or exchanged the lots north of
the proposed Canadian National Railways right-of-way, this latter
not being built upon until 1944. Only the southern half of the
Bickerdike Farm on the Chemin Vervais was developed in the first
thirty years of MTC ownership. The property, however, did extend
sufficiently east and west to allow for a new streetcar entrance
from Boulevard St-Laurent and for the later construction of the
Villeray Bus Garage in 1946.
The Mantreal Park and Island Railway, which was the official
purchaser of the Bickerdike Farm, further directed the construction
of a large building 425 feet long by 269 feet wide on this land,wh
ich would become the main structure of the future Youville Shops.
The design of the building was developed by Messrs. Marchand and
Haskell, architects, under the supervision of Mr. D.E.Blair, then
Superintendent of Rolling Stock of the Company. The general lines
of the project were more or less similar to those of the Plank Road
Shops of the New Jersey Public Service Company of the United States.
A spur line was completed in early 1913, to connect the new facil
ities with the existing St-Denis Street line, although the Rolling
Stock Division had already been housed in its new quarters since
FROM THE CANADIAN RAILWAY & MARINE WORLD OF MARCH, 1913, THE PLAN
of the Montreal Tramways Companys new plant, showing the layout of
all shops, is presented.
CANADIAN 107 R A I L
The main building itself, built of brick on concrete founda-
tions, was essentially composed of two units, separated by a street
car transfer table, all under a single roof, an unusual practice in
those days. But it was understandable, if one gives thought to Mon
treals average snowfall, which would surely have hampered any open
air operations between buildings. The car-transfer table itself was
feet 8 inches long and operated in a runway 346 feet long, on
three standard-gauge tracks laid with 80-pound rails on a cinder
floor. The table was covered by a 70-foot steel truss, supporting
a monitor roof with windows throughout which, together with ten
eastward-facing skylights in the two side-sections, provided ample
daylight to all areas within the building.
The southern half of the building was devoted to the Overhaul
ing Department and its associated trades: hoist, wheel-and-axle,bl
acksmith, machine and armature shops. The other half was mainly de
voted to car-body work and included a mill space and erecting and
Of the 17 tracks leading south off the transfer table, 12 were
equipped with car-hoists, an innovation in those days. These were
basically a pair of I-beams, each 30 feet long, running parallel to
the track, which could be raised or lowered through a system of
drives hafts and worm-and-bevel gears, each pair of such hoists being
activated by motors with one double-throw controller. The practice
was to place another shorter I-beam across both sides of the
hoist, under each end of the car; thus, the car body could be rai
sed from its trucks, the lotter run out, and the cor lowered again
in the best position for the job to be undertaken. Similarly, car
bodies from outside manufacturers could be brought in on flat cors,
lifted on the hoist, the flat car removed, the trucks positioned and
the body lowered again, an assembly practice which the Company adop
ted as a standard.
To complete the equipment in each of these bays, all tracks
provided with a hoist also had an inner pit, 87 feet 10 inches long,
with a 4-foot-gauge track running full length, on which dolleys could
travel back and forth. The motors and undergear of the cars being
serviced could be lowered onto these dolleys by means of a swivel
ing jib-crane, each serving two adjacent pits. This combination of
hoist, pit, dolley and jib-crane, provided for every possible as
sembly and dismantling operation one could think of.
~ YOUVILLE SHOPS: CAR NUMBER 1208 OF THE MTC RIDES THE TRANSFER TABLE
after having been repaired and repainted. Photo CRHA Archives, CTCUM
YOUVILLE SHOPS: THE CAR-HOIST AREA, SHOWING THE TWO LONGITUDINAL
beams for lifting the streetcar bodies from their trucks.
Photo CRHA Archives, CTCYM Collection.
YOUVILLE SHOPS: A GENERAL VIEW OF THE ARMATURE SHOP. THE OVERHEAD
girder hoist system for moving the heavy armatures from one location
to another is visible. This was a primitive assembly-line process.
Photo CRHA Archives, CTCUM Collection.
CANADIAN 1 1 1 R A I L
The wheels and axles could be brought in on the track
into the particular section by means of the transfer table
ed by an air-hoist for servicing: the required equipment
wheel and axle lathes, a wheel-press and borer and an axle
ener. In addition, some inside storage space and a storage
by outside was provided.
and li ft
The blacksmith shop, next to the wheel and axle department, was
equipped with a cold saw, a punch and shear press, oil furnaces, a
bulldozer, a dry grinder, six down-draft forges and an upright steam
hammer, installed on a bitulithic pavement for the comfort of stand
ing operatars and to avoid damage to parts dropped accidentally. The
raw material supply was located in an adjacent storeroom.
The machine shop was spread over a 71 x lOa-foot area, with the
usual lathes, drills and cutters driven by overhead shafting. Two
compressors, rated at 19 and 20 hp. respectively, provided air at
80 psi, which could be boosted to 100 psi for rivetting. These
were also located in this area. As for the armature shop,operations
were based on assembly-line processing, by means of a belt-line o
verhead trolley. As in the case of the wheels and axles, armatures
were brought from a track connection with the transfer table, pick
ed up as required, repaired and removed, all in a constant forward
movement. Treating of the armature was carried out in the adjacent
impregnating room, which had two tanks for that purpose.
On the other side of the transfer table, the body-work section
was divided from the rest of the shop by a corrugated iron partition
on account of t~e flammable nature of the materials used. A similar
wall separated the paint shop from the erecting and mill shops. In
the latter, equipment driveshafts and exhaust blowers were located
in a shallow basement, thereby optimizing efficiency. Four tracks
with pits 66 feet long were also located in this section.
The paint shop was the largest department, where the major
portion of car overhauling, repainting and brightening was under-
taken. The paint finishing shop in the northeast area was respon-
sible for painting, glazing and varnishing removable parts, such as
sashes and doors. The paint mixing area was located appropriately
outside the main building, to which it was linked by a covered pas
The general stores department was actually a two-storey wing,
located at the west end of the transfer table, the upper floor in-
cluding the offices of the Rolling Stock Superintendent and the
General Storekeeper, while the main floor was arranged with tiers
of bins and drawers for smaller components and also a huge vault,35
by 18 feet, for blueprint and pattern storage.
Originally, a track leading to the power house crossed this
area, by which store-cars could be brought directly into the build
ing for loading and unloading of parts. This access was discontin
ued in 1928, when a new track for these operations was added, in the
recess immediately east of the said wing, to avoid congestion within
the building and the attendant possibility of injury to the employ
~ YOUVILLE SHOPS: GENERAL VIEW OF THE CAR-HOIST DEPARTMENT WITH CARS
of the 651 and 800-class on the hoists.
Photo CRHA Archives, CTCUM Collection.
, YOUVILLE SHOPS: MTC STREETCAR TERMINAL JUST OFF BOULEVARD ST-LAURENT
l on June 11, 1952. Motor car Number 1582 heads a southbound two-car
train, about to leave the terminus and turn south on Boulevard St-
Laurent. Photo courtesy F.F.Angus.
To the rear of the stores wing were two rows of scrap bins,the
materials from which were weighed on a track scale initially located
on the west outside track, but relocated behind the power house in
1923, until its removal in 1948. In the oil house, a small brick
structure measuring 37 by 17 feet, tiers of oil barrels were in-
stalled, with a hoist on an overhead track to lift them to or from
the stores car. A waste-treating plant for impregnating cotton waste
with oil before packing it in barrels was housed in this structure.
Next to it was the power house, which supplied steam to heat
the shops through a system of pipes located in a five by six-foot
tunnel, linking it to the main building. Three 175 hp. boilers sup
plied steam at 100 psi pressure. In the same building, there were
four transformers for electrical supply, three 50 KW (ratio 13200:
2200 volts, further reduced to 220 volts in the machine shop itself)
and one 30 KW (ratio 2200:110 volts) for the shop lighting system.
Coal for the boilers was originally wheelbarrowed from under 0
trestle adjacent to the power house, on which railway coal cars
were shunted and emptied. This trestle was relocated on a 600-foot
spur, off the west outside track. After being tallied, used street
car tickets and transfers were also used as fuel for the boilers.
The last building in the complex was the lumber shed and dry-
kiln, located to the rear of the mill space in the main building,
for obvious reasons of safety. Here were piled assorted varieties
and grades of treated wood, used in car construction and interior
CA NAD IAN 113 R A I L
As mentioned previously, it should be remembered that Youville
Shops were intended mainly as car assembly and repair facilities.
Nevertheless, some cars were built completely here. To mention a
few, there were observation cars Numbers 3 and 4, wartime cars Num-
bers 1175 through 1178, as well as a variety of special purpose
cars, work cars, electric locomotives and snow-fighting vehicles.
A fine example of the car-rebuilding capability was the work done
on the 1032-series, cars built originally at Hochelaga ot the turn
of the century and totally rebuilt at Youville Shops in the mid
twenties (3). Preventive maintenance was a chief concern of the MTC
at that time and particular series of cars were brought in regular
ly for general overhaul. They emerged in almost as new condition.
In 1932, the purchase of additional land to the west of the
original farm on Chemin Vervais finally provided an access to the
shops from Boulevard St-Laurent. It was not until ten years later,
however, that further acquisition of adjacent land allowed the con-
struction of terminal facilities on that site. The transfer point
between St-Laurent -Route 55 streetcars and Bordeaux -Route 56
buses was thus relocated from Jean Talon Street to the yard en-
(3) cf. CANADIAN RAIL Number 265, February 1974.
J; MTC -YESTERDAY AND THE DAY BEFORE: A 1958-59 SCENE ON THE RELOCA-
, ted single-track line on Boulevard Cremazie at Casgrain Street, lo
oking east. On the right, concrete pillars for the Metropolitan Ex
pressway are being erected. Photo courtesy L. Dauphinais.
i I I i i
I I I I
H , • ,
U , , , _
I I L
A U R E N T
A M W A
E S S
Y A R D
CA NAD IAN 1 1 5 R A I L
Route 55 streetcars were wyed on the existing shop trackage
for the southbound return trip. Passengers exited from the street
cars to board the buses on the opposite side of the same platform.
Even after buses replaced the streetcars on Boulevard St-Laurent,the
change-point was retained in use until the St-Laurent bus line was
extended north to Boulevard Henri-Bourassa, absorbing the afore
mentioned Bordeaux bus line in the process.
Youville Shops played an important role during both World War
periods. Shell casings were manufactured in the shops during World
War I. A machine shop was established for the purpose, under the
supervision of Mr. D.E.Blair, and the project was a notable success.
Similarly, in A~gust 1942, the MTC extended the tracks in the north
ern part of the property to form an outer loop with the existing
trackage to the south. Platforms were built and joined by footwalks
to adjacent Chabanel and Louvain Streets, thus enabling the Company
to provide transportation for the workers in war materiel plants in
this section of the City. This rush-hour service was provided by
extra cars on the St-Denis route. An inner loop was also constructed
at that time to be used as a training section for new streetcar
In 1946, Youville Shops underwent further expansion, as con-
struction began on the Cremazie Shop south of the main building and
Villeray Garage, to the east. The former was enlarged to 185,000
square feet and could then accommodate some 66 buses at the same
time for major repairs and overhauling, while Villeray Garage was
chiefly intended as a bus depot; to avoid superfluous traffic, a
new entrance for buses was opened off Boulevard Cremazie at de Gaspe
Street in 1951.
Oddly enough, major maintenance of the MTCs fleet of trolley
buses was also carried out at You ville Shops, although the overhead
wires for their operation were never extended to anywhere near the
Shops. The standard practice was to tow the trolleybuses with the
regular bus towtruck from the St-Denis or Mont-Royal trolleybus de
pots to and into the Youville Shops when repairs were needed. Move
ments inside Youville Shops also required the towtruck.St-Denis and
Mont~Royal trolleybus depots had no facilities for making repairs
to these electric trackless trolleys.
On August 31, 1958, with the progressive curtailment of street
car operation and the conversion of the St-Denis car line to bus
operation, the streetcar system was split into three divisions,hav
ing no physical connection between one another. The last assignment
on the St-Denis Street tramway line was performed during the night
of September 16, 1958, by MTC Crane W-3, pulling Montreal and Sou
thern Counties Railway preserved interurban cars Numbers 611 and 104
from the Canadian Pacific Railway-Montreal Transportation Commission
interchange at St-Denis Carbarn, to Youville Yard.
From then on, service on the City of Montreals northernmost
streetcar lines, Millen: Route 24 and Montreal Nord: Route 40, was
based at You ville Shops until these lines were abandoned on May 3,
1959. As the Metropolitan Expressway was under construction at the
time, trackage had to be relocated along the new expressway service
-E-YOUVILLE SHOPS: THIS PLAN SHOWS YOUVILLE SHOPS AT ITS MAXIMUM DE
velopment. The single-track connecti6n to St-Denis Street, the Bou
levard St-Laurent terminus and the Chabanel and Louvain Street plat
forms are shown. Courtesy D. Latour.
CANADIAN 116 R A I L
road from the right-of-way of the Millen line to the yard at
ville, 0.4 mile.
Some 28 streetcars were thus isolated, officially being inclu
ded as part of the Villeroy Garage division. All available double
ended streetcars, Numbers 2001 through 2010, 2050 through 2056, 2064,
2065, 2078, 2079, 2081 and 2082 , were reserved for the Millen line,
while cars Numbers 1872, 1873 and 1874 were used on the Montreal
Nord service. Cars Numbers 2069 and 2076 were retained as spares.
In the early Fifties, as the Compony found itself encumbered
with a surplus of aging streetcars, it was faced with the necessity
of either disposing of them or destroying them outright. As there
were no other streetcar systems interested in purchasing these cars,
the second alternative prevailed and Youville Shops, with its large
vacant areas to the north, was selected as a suitable location for
the process of destruction.
The first step was to accumulate streetcars of the same class.
They were lined up, bumper-to-bumper, on the eastern storage tracks,
in a state of dead storage. As the need for returning them to
service did not materialize, a large circle of red paint was applied
to the car-bodies, identifying them as candidates for the next act
of destruction. The cars were then assembled in lots, stripped of
their reusable parts (as long as there was compatable equipment on
those streetcars still running), pulled off to terminal trackage,
built for the purpose, to be burned periodically, with firemen from
the City of Montreal cordoning the area. The charred metal which
remained after the holocaust was sold to scrap-iron salvage firms
in the City.
With the opening of Legendre Street in 1958, Youville Yard was
split in two and both halves alongside that street were fenced,while
streetcars designated for destruction had to be carried by crane
and float into the northern portion of the yard, as trackage had
been severed between the two portions.
The main building at Youville Shops was now being used to per
form trolleybus maintenance operations and to provide shelter for
the vehicles in the MTC historical collection which were reserved
for preservation and future display in a museum. The shop transfer
table represented the last remnant for possible streetcar operation
in the City of Montreal.
The last chapter in the history of Youville Shops as a whole
was written in 1963, when discussions regarding Montreals project
ed METRO subway were in the offing. It was concluded that most of
the buildings at Youville would logically have to be torn down, to
make way for the new METRO Shops and Garage. Consequently, the MTC
historic streetcar collection was maved out between June 11 and 17
of that year and demolition of Youville Shops, save for the south
west wing, was completed some weeks later, hastened by a fire which
broke out during the demolition.
Thus the streetcar epoch ended and the METRO era began at You
ville Shops, a proud continuation of some fifty years of usefulness.
The appearance of Mr. Bickerdikes farm on Chemin Vervais had chang
ed remarkably in half-a-century and, with the completion of METRO
in Montreal, would continue to change. How Youville Shops became
Plateau Youville and what has happened in more recent years is an
other interesting story.
TURNING AROUND ON THE SAME SPOT, EIGHT YEARS BEFOKE ON A RAINY SEP
tember 1, 1951., eastbound car Number 1177 clattered over the single
track line to Youville Shops, parallel to Boulevard Cremazie. This
car was built at Youville Shops originally as a passenger car but
was later converted to an instruction car. Photo courtesy S.D.Maguire
from L. Dauphinais.
The Author is grateful to the following gentlemen for their
kind assistance in the preparotion of the foregoing article:
Messrs. G. Jeannotte, E. Petit, J-P. Belanger, G. Nadeau and
J-G. Chamberland, members of the Commission de Transport de 10
Communaute Urbaine de Montreal;
Messrs. M.P.Murphy, D. Latour, F. Angus and L. Dauphinais
members of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association.
Canadian Railway and Marine World
Le Plateau Youville -CTCUM
Archives -Commission de Transport
Urbaine de Montreal
April, 1973 de
Archives -Canadian Railroad Historical Association
Personal Notes: Mr. Richard M. Binns, Victoria, B.C.
(Author of Montreals Electric Streetcars)
A VIKING FUNERAL: MTC WOODEN SNOWPLOW NUMBER 105 WAS THE SACRIFICE
during a fire-drill for the training of MTC firemen of Youville Shops.
The car in the background, Number 2052, was donated in 1953 to be
preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennybunkport, Maine, USA.
Photo CRHA Archives, CTCUM Collection.
THE FINAL SCENE: STRIPPED OF ALL USEFUL PARTS, THE BODIES OF FIVE
1200-class cars of the MTC are piled pele-mele in the yard at You
ville Shops, to be burned. The scrap status of these cars was in
dicated by the red circle painted on the sides and ends of the cars.
They were destroyed shortly after April 20, 1956, the date this
picture was taken. Photo Public Archives of Canada, per L. Dauphinais.
CANADIAN 1 21 R A I L
It is utterly mystifying to this reviewer why Mr. Boorses
book has apparently been overlooked in the intervening period and
this mystery is probably equally puzzling to the electric traction
enthusiasts. Now, RAPID TRANSIT IN CANADA is brought to their ot
The first Canadian rapid transit system considered by Mr. Bo
orse is that of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) , the emphasis
being placed on the subway portion. The authors description of the
planning and construction of the lines is that of the transit en-
gineer -informative and critical without being tedious. He de-
scribes the various location problems encountered and points out
that a genuine attempt was made to minimize what has since been re
ferred tf) as pollution of the environment by noise. The subways
covered bridge over Rosedale Ravine, on a graceful curve, is but
one example of this effort.
While it is likely that some of the information on the TTC
subway is now old hat to traction enthusiasts in the Metro Tor
onto area, Mr. Boorses objective evaluation will be of interest
to the enthusiasts in other parts of North America. Now that the
Yonge Street extension has been opened and the alignment of the
Spadina Extension approved, there is every justification for a
second, revised edition of this reference work.
After the route map, rolling stock description and general
information tables on the TTC subway, Mr. Boorse next describes GO
TRANSIT, devoting several pages to this activity which assists in
maintaining proper perspective in the rapid transit picture. In
1967, Mr. Boorse suggested that the entire project must, at this
time, be considered somewhat experimental in nature ••• Subsequent
events htlve, happily, proved that GO TRANSIT is here to stay and,
far from being experimental, has become an integral part of rapid
transit in Metro Toronto and neighbouring cities along the Lake
Mr. Boorse qualifies his description of GO TRANSIT when he
says: Its geographic extent prevents GO from being a rapid trans
it line in itself and the lack of stations within Toronto proper
precludes any significant competition with the TTC subway. The two
systems to meet at Union Station, thus supplementing each other.
Canadas largest city, Montreal, has two rapid transit sys-
tems: Canadian National Railways Mount Royal Tunnel lines and
the famous Montreal METRO. The Mount Royal Tunnel line, intended
originally to assist in the development of the area on,the north
flank of Mount Royal became a sort of electrified main line rail
way/rapid transit hybrid about 1920 and was extended to Deux Mon
tagnes in 1925 and to Montreal-Nord in 1945-46. At the time Mr.
Boorse was writing his book, serious consideration is being given
to the conversion of this system into a more orthodox rapid transit
line employing subway-type cars, floor level platforms and (possibly)
third-rail. In this instance, Mr. Boorses anticipated changes have
not yet materialized, but current studies by provincial and federal
transport boards will without doubt include such modifications, if
the new jumbo-jet airport at Mirabel, northwest of Montreal, is to
be linked to the city by rapid and reliable means of transport.
CANADIAN 122 R A I L
This portion of Mr. Boorses book is embellished with many in
teresting illustrations and a route-map.
It seems as though Mr. Boorse was waiting for the opportunity
to write about Montreals rubber-tyred METRO, since, to the average
North American rapid transit engineer, the METRO includes the most
astonishing number of dramatic innovations ever before encountered.
Even METROs operating voltage -750 v.DC -is a little different
from the 600v DC normally used in subway operation.
Mr. Boorses descriptions of route location and station design
are most interesting and thought-provoking. When he suggests that
disregarding a few dimensional differences, the Montreal rolling
stock would probably function quite satisfactorily under the Champs
Elysees, he is being either waggish or naive. The author has not
much to say in favour of the rubber-tyred system per se, and notes,
in passing, that despite their small size, these cars are among the
most expensive ever built.
The last rapid transit system to be examined by Mr. Boorse is
the EXPO EXPRESS, which ran from Place dAcceuil at Cite du Havre,
Montreal, to La Ronde, the amusement-park section of EXPO 67. This
system has been described previously in the December 1967 issue Num
ber 194 of CANADIAN RAIL, but notwithstanding the expert opinions
contained therein, Mr. Boorse uncovers a number of techniques not
encountered in the rapid transit systems previously considered. His
conclusion of this portion of his book is of interest;
From the time that Adam first put one foot in
front of the other and discovered that he
could move, man has relentlessly sought better
and better means of transportation. All world
expositions are conceived and designed with
the hope that some of the exhibits or some of
the principles or some of the technology dis
played to the world will be of a lasting na
ture. Ten short years from now, EXPO 67 will
be very dead. Even its memory will have been
largely blotted out by the United States Bi
centennial, which by then will be but a mem
ory itself. The EXPO EXPRESS lacks the glamour
of the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle or the
Unisphere, but in the final analysis the things
that transportation men will have learned,tes
ted and demonstrated through it will leave this
old world and its millions of swarming, moving
peoples at least a little better off than they
otherilise would have been.
Mr. Boorses book is liberally sprinkled with illustrations,
some of them reproduced rarely and all of them interesting. His sys
tem maps, albeit schematically drawn, help to convey to the reader
the scope of the systems described.
As previously remarked, this reviewer is quite unable to ac-
count for the lack of attention to Mr. Boorses RAPID TRANSIT IN
CANADA, when it ought to be available in Canadian libraries and on
the bookshelves of Canadian electric railway enthusiasts.
RAPID TRANSIT IN CANADA Boorse,
ALMO Press, Philadelphia,PA, U.S.A.
J. W ., j r. 1 967
104 pp., 100 b&w illustrations
10 maps, 4 sketches.
Bou rl amaque Central
the pole troeh
Map and Illustrations from the Authar s Collection.
he old saying, Where theres a will,
theres a way. was never more true
than it was in those days when the
northern parts of the Canadian Provinces
of Ontario and Quebec were first being
developed. The discoveries of gold, sil-
ver, cobalt, copper and nickle in the
districts of the northeastern part of
Ontario soon stimulated prospecting in
the adjacent parts of Quebec and, al
though mineral deposits in these areas
were not as frequent as they were to
the west, a sufficient number of dis
coveries were made to stimulate the
prospectors to continuing activity.
Access to this remote country was much easier after June 1,1915,
which was the date of putting in operation of the National Transcon
tinental Railway from Quebec to Winnipeg, a distance of 1,349.59 mi
lies and on a location far to the north of the settled portions of
the provinces through which it ran. The new line passed through the
townsof Senneterre and Taschereau in northern Quebec and Norembega
and Cochrane in northern Ontario. In 1925, the Rouyn Mines Railway
Company built a branch from Taschereau to Rouyn, Quebec, a distance
of 42.81 miles, and there were some other spur lines to the Waite
Montgomery and Amulet Mines.
The development of this region continued through the years. On
November 29, 1937, Canadian National Railways opened a new railway
line south and west from Senneterre, passing through the town of
Val dOr to Malartic and the twin cities of Rouyn and Noranda. This
event brings us closer to the time and place of our little history.
About 1925, a small town was established about It miles north of
Val dOr, at the location of a small gold mine. Initially, the only
way to transport machinery and supplies into this remote area was
over the primitive dirt roads, hacked through the bush and muskeg.
It was not an easy way to bring in the supplies and equipment neces
sary to the prospectors and miners who were working to improve their
claims. The construction of the Canadian Notionals Senneterre/Rouyn
Noranda line in 1937 was beneficial to those mines near the railway,
but it did not improve the situation of the miners at East Sullivan
in Bourlamaque Township, about six miles east of Val d Or, who were
mining copper-gold-silver and zinc concentrates.
~ THE MOTIVE POWER AND ROLLING STOCK OF THE BOURLAMAQUE CENTRAL RAIL
l way, near East Sullivan Mine in northwestern Quebec. The wide concave
wheels of the vehicle are quite visible. So is the unevenness of the
roadbed. One wonders how this vehicle could attain a speed sufficient
to win a race with a hungry bear~
CANADIAN 125 R A I L
It was for this reason that Monsieur Louis Abel, a well-known
diamond-drilling contractor, decided in 1939 to build the Bourlama
que Centra~ Railway. It was planned to be more than two miles long,
from the d1rt road at DAragon, through the settlement of Centremaque
to th~ ~ine at East Sul~ivan: The,purpose of this railway was to serve
the m1n1ng and prospect1ng sltes 1n Bourlamaque Township and to haul
materiel and food to the mining camps.
You might have thought that in the modern times of 1939 Mr. Abel
would build a regular railway. Well, you would have been wrong. What
Mr. Abel actually built was a wooden pole-railway. You may have read
or heard of this unusual kind of railway, which was generally used
in lumbering operations. The rails of the pole-railway were round
wood poles -in fact, the trunks of young trees, three or four inches
in diameter, which had been cut down nearby and limbed clean. These
pole-rails were supported on transverse round poles, which could be
called ties. The latter were spaced closer together, however, and
did not necessarily rest on a conventional road-bed. The rocky land,
with only a thin covering of top-soil, did not favour such a type
of construction. The pole-railway was built over the rocks, not on
The joints of the pole-rails were close-butted, one to the next,
and were spiked to the round ties. No attempt was made to ballast the
track for the reason mentioned above, which was a good thing, since
each springtime the frost moved the whole track up and down and all
about, during the spring thaw.
For motive power and rolling stock on the Bourlamaque Central
Railway -it was the same vehicle -M. Abel selected a rather used
Ford 4-cylinder truck of the 1933 model, only six years old. The
motive power was in the front end and the flat car (rolling st
ock) was the vehicles rear portion. I t had no van. The combin
ation car did the work required, but with difficulty, sometimes.
M. Abel removed the conventional rubber-tyred wheels from the
Ford truck and installed wide concave wheels which ran on the pole
rails very well. This type of wheel had already been perfected for
use on pole-railways in lumbering operations, particularly in Brit
ish Columbia on Vancouver Island. In fact, if you are curious about
this pole-railway system, you can today see vehicles intended for
this sort of operation at the Cowichan Valley Forest Museum at Dun
can, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
During the time that the Bourlamaque Central Railway was in op
eration, there were the normal number of exciting experiences. The
Ford made a fast run, one day, when a hungry bear chased the train
down the line, trying his best to jump on board the fast express
to eat the meat and groceries which he hod smelled on the flat
Periodically, the beavers who lived in the vicinity, gnawed the
pole-rails in two pieces and laboriously pulled them away to build
a dam in the neighbouring stream or lake. This was only a temporary
problem for the railway, for there were plenty of replacement rails
nearby in the woods. It was only that the beavers increased the
amount of track maintenance.
A ride on the Bourlamaque Central was, to say the very least,an
interesting experience. Of course, the springsand what remained of
the padded seat in the cab of the Ford absorbed many of the heavier
shocks from the uneven pole-rails and, once in a while, the engine
showed a tendency to derail when the pole-rails were out-of-gauge.
And speaking of the gauge, it never was clear what in fact was the
CANADIAN 126 R A I L
, ON NOVEMBER 29, 1937, THE FIRST CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS PASSEN
l ger train over the new line from Senneterre on the former National
Transcontinental Railway to Rouyn-Noranda arrived at Val dOr.
gauge of the Bourlamaque Central. Well, it was the distance between
the wheels of a 1933 Ford truck~
M. Abel was a very good friend of the writer and often invited
him for a ride on his railway. For a young person, this was a great
honour and privilege.
Since those years of the 30s, many changes have taken place in
this part of Quebec. If you went to the East Sullivan Mine today, you
might find traces of a railway, but it would not be the Bourlamaque
Central. Before 1971, it would have been a branch of the Canadian Na-
tional, coming in from the north. The Bourlamaque Central came up
from the south. The East Sullivan Mine was closed in 1966 and the
CNR spur was taken up in 1971.
As you might expect, the BCR (not the British Columbia Railway)
was not the victim of rust. Far from that. In 1944, there was a bad
forest fire in the area and nothing could be done to save the wooden
Bourlamaque Central. It burned to ashes. Although there is no defin
ite record of the fate of its locomotive and rolling stock, there
is no reason to think that it survived this holocaust.
As to the rest of the history of this region, the Canadian Na
tional built branch lines to those mines which survived the economic
depressions of the 1930s. The Town of Bourlamaque, which grew con
siderably during the years, was amalgamated with the Town of Val dOr
about six or seven years ago, to form Greater Val dOr, which now
has a population of about 25,000. Val dOr is in the county of Abi-
CA NAD IAN
, …J,iJ… •••
… ~ :
127 R A I L
.. ~ .. ~
A MAP OF THE AREA THROUGH WHICH THE BOURLAMAQUE CENTRAL RAILWAY WAS
b~ilt. The Canadian Nationals main line through the region and the
spur to the East Sullivan Mine are shown.
tibi East, some 340 miles northwest of Montr4al. You con drive th
rough La Verendrye Provincial Park on Route 11, or you can toke the
Canodian Nationals overnight Train 75-175, arriving at Val dOr at
11: 43 hours, daily except Sunday. The trip via Route 11 is always
pleasant, but it does not compare with the journey by railway, with
the reorganization of trains and sleeping cars at Hervey, at midnight,
the leisurely scheduled run through Fitzpatrick, daybreak at Parent,
the meet with the Mixed Train 264 at Dix and the native Canadians at
almost every stop. And there are a few stops~
But we were speaking of wooden pole-railways. Do jou remember
that the Qu4bec and Gosford Railwoy constructed in 1870 was also a wooden
railway? It was, although the wooden rails were flat instead
of round. Twenty-seven miles were built from Qu4bec to the town of
Gosford and an extension of nine miles was added in 1871. But M. Abel
surely could not have known of this railway sixty-eight years later,
when he planned the Bourlamaque Central.
The Qu4bec and Gosford, intended to bring cord-wood from the
coun£ry to the city of Qu4bec eventually became a conventional rail
way and formed part of the line from Quebec to Lac St-Jean. The
Bourlamaque Central was not so lucky. It never really had the chance
to grow up, suffering as it did a sad death at the tender age of only
THE PHOTOGRAPH OF CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS STEAM LOCOMOTIVE NUMBER
6060 and train, presented on the cover of CANADIAN RAIL
INDEX 1973, was taken at Blockville, Ontario, writes Mr.
J. Norman Lowe, Manager, Historical Projects, Operations & Mainten
ance, Canadian National Railways. Number 6060 made a special run be-
tween Montreal and Srockville to test the equipment to be used for
the Royal Train of 1951 and the train was placed under speed be-
tween these two cities.
THE GOVERNMENT OF SPAIN HAS DECIDED TO CONSTRUCT A STANDARD-GAUGE
(1.44 m ) rail line from the French frantier at Port Bou
Cerbere to Figueras, Spain, to enable centralization of
freight traffic and customs and immigration inspection, prior to for
warding of. traffic over the broad-gauge (1.67 m ) lines of the RENFE
to destinations in Spain. The line and accessory installations are
expected to cost 200 million French francs, about $ 50 million US and
may be completed in 1976. It is also planned, in the future, to pro
long this standard~gauge line to Barcelona ( ca. 86 km) and even to
Madrid (ca. 715 km ).
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS 55-TANKCAR OIL UNIT-TRAIN BEGAN OPERATION
in late November 1974 between Golden Eagle Canada Limiteds
St-Romuald, Quebec, refinery, just west of Levis, Quebec,
and Ontario Hydros generating station at Lennox, Ontario. The unit
train was scheduled initially to leave the refinery every two days
for Kingston, Ontario, hauling 30,800 barrels of oil, with later de
liveries scheduled for Lennox. The contract called for a delivery of
a total of more than 25 million barrels of fuel oil, requiring some
800 round-trips of 726 miles each.
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA TRANSPORT MINISTER JEAN MARCHAND ANNOUNCED IN
mid-November 1974 that he would shortly inform the Cabinet
in detail of what he wants to do to modernize and integrate
Canadas railway passenger services and how he proposes to finance the
resulting multi-mill ion-dollar undertaking. Mr. Marchand said that
he planned to have finalized by the end of 1974 a general agreement
wi th Canadas passenger-carrying railway companies, based on the Cab
inets approval of his proposals.
Sut the last day of 1974 came and went, and no proposals
emerged and no agreement had been proposed, let alone finalized.
Apparently, Mr. Marchand was anxiously looking for a way to
minate or allievote the present situation wherein the Government
Canada must pay a portion of the operating losses incurred by
provision of passenger train services on unprofitable lines,
have been designated by the Government as essential to the require
ments of the citizens of Canada. These Federal Government subsidies
CANADIAN 129 R A I L
presently cost Canadians $ 10 million annually.
In the latter part of 1974, Mr. Marchand had discussed several
proposals with representatives of the media: a CANTRAK system, said
to be something like the AMTRAK system in the United States; the
operation of transcontinental rail passenger services in short in-
tercity daytime hops, with the abolition of trans-Canada sleeping and
dining car services and consequent overnight housing of transcontinen-
tal passengers in in-city hotels, and, finally, a consolidation of
Canadian National and CP RAIL trans-Canada and intercity passenger
While the Federal Government wants a unified and complimentary
plan from CN and CP RAIL, of a clear and precise nature, Mr. March
and observed that none of the proposals made so for have been sa
tisfactory. Since the Federal Government is said to be prepared to
spend as much as $ 200 million of public funds over the next five
years, Mr. Marchand was probably quite justified in insisting that
any recommendations made should meet the criteria of his Department
of Transport. Unfortunately, the criteria have not been published in
very great detail, according to spokesmen for Canadas ma jor railways,
which makes it difficult to make proposals which will be at one and
the same time acceptable to the Department of Transport and the rail
way operating departments and labour unions.
FROM SUNNY SOUTHERN ONTARIO, WALTER BEDBROOK REPORTS THAT CHANGES
are imminent for Canadian National Roilways car-ferry
operation between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.
The car-ferry service provided by the veteran S.S.LANSDOWNE, albeit
not under her own power, but propelled by a tug, was scheduled ini
tially for abandonment on October 31, 1974, but was postponed. When
this service is discontinued, it will be assumed by the Windsor De
troit Barge Lines Limited, who previously acquired the former Can
adian Pacific tugboat PRESCOTONT and the barge OGDENSBURG, when the
Prescott,Ontario-Ogdensburg, New York car-barge service was dis
The PRESCOTONT/OGDENSBURG combination operated out of the CP
RAIL slip at Windsor, with loads of container-flats, the containers
being off-loaded from the flats by overhead crahes on the Detroit si
de of the river. The flats stayed on the barge.
Windsor Detroit Barge Lines acquired an option on the CNs his
toric car-ferry, the S.S.HURON, the standby barge for the S.S. LANS
DOWNE, as well as the latter, when the CNs service would be dis
continued. The CN sent their tug to Sarnia to work the Sarnia-Port
Huron car-barge service. Windsor Detroit Barge Lines then leased the
CNs car-barge slip at Windsor for the shipment of container cars,
with the operation in Detroit remaining as it was for the time being.
Other CN-GTW traffic was handled through the Penn Centrals De
Troit Tunnel, via Essex Terminal Railway trackage, to the CN yard in
Windsor. When the Penn Central can manage to increase the roof clear
ance in the tunnel to accommodate tri-Ievel automobile cars, hi-cube
boxcars and container flats, the car-ferries/car-barges on the De
troit River will likely disappear entirely.
IT WAS WITH REGRET THAT THE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS RECEIVED IN MID-NOVEMBER
1974 that the West German firm of Krauss-Maffei A.G: had
withdrawn from the development program of Ontarios GO
URBAN magnetic levitation technology. This meant that Ontario would
not have a revenue system of urban transport on the magnetic levita-
CA NAD I AN
130 R A I L
tion-linear induction system until:well into the 1980s, if then.
The Toronto Globe and Mail interpreted this withdrawal as in
dicative of the failure of the urban transportation revolution that
Ontaria was trying to achieve. The challenge presented to engineers
and scientists was threefold: to prove that a magnetic suspension
system was a practical replacement for the steel wheel on the steel
rail; to prove that a linear induction motor can work economically
as a power source, and, to develop a computer system which could op
erate a totally-driverless transportation network with short headway
None of these objectives have been accomplished successfully,
The question is, according to the Globe and Mail, whether or
not the Ontario Transportation Development Corporation can deliver
the new transit systems that Ontario -and Canada -will need.
The OTDC was established by the Government of Ontario in July
1973 and presently employs 45 people with a total annual salary bud
get approaching $ 1 million. Its first innovation, DIAL-A-BUS, has
not met with the success predicted for it. The new light-weight str-
eetcar, which the Toronto Transit Commission is committed to buy,
makes transportation experts wonder if this is a suitable alter-
native to the GO-Urban concept. The TTC is committed to provide 200
new streetcars for Toronto in the period 1977-79, but these will be
replacements for the existing fleet and none will be available for
suggested new streetcar routes to replace the Scarborough Expressway
or to connect the TTC s subway with METRO Zoo or the proposed new
Toronto International Airport at Pickering, through ~ortheast Scar
borough. These lines were to be GO-Urban operations.
After the announcement of the cancellation of the GO-Urban pro
gram, opinions poured in from all sides. But Mr. Stuart Robertson,
professor of electrical engineering at the University of Toronto and
a specialist in magnetic levitation and propulsion, said that he had
mixed feelings about the whole thing. He was of the opinion that the
Krauss-Maffei system was a very bad system for Ontario to choose.
Nevertheless, he believed that the total proposal had generated con
siderable industrial initiative in Canada and that it was now time
to re-assess the position, less hurriedly, and develop some research
and development programs in Canada specific to the Canadian situation.
McDonnell-Douglas Corporation of the United States has already
been dialoguing with the Government of Ontario regarding the formers
possible re-renty into the program.
According to Mr. Richard Soberman, Director of the Metro Tor
onto Transportation Plan Review, Scarboroughs citizens will get a
Scarborough Expressway unless reasonable public transportation al
ternatives are provided immediately: i.e., before people move into
the area and develop habits based on a second family automobile. And
this in the face of dwindling oil supplies and increasing costs of
ON 26 DECEMBER 1974, THE CANADIAN PRESS ANNOUNCED THAT CANADAS DE
partment of Transport had purchased CP RAILs passenger
automobile ferryboat, the S.S. PRINCESS OF ACADIA, which
provides ferry service across the Bay of Fundy between Soint John,
New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia.
The service is said to have lost money continuously over
last several years. The Government of Canada paid $ 10 million
the service, the ship and some land in Saint John.
CP RAIL said that, under a 1968 agreement, the Government prom-
CANADIAN 131 R A I L
ised to purchase the vessel if no satisfactory long_term a
greement could be reached.
BUSWIM~ WHEN BUS NUHBER 3637 WAS DELIVERED BY THE DIESEL DIVISION, Gene
ral Hotors of Canada, about four years ago, no one
could have gueued that it …. ould end up at the bottom o~
Vancouver Harbour. Out it did~
Someone stole Number 3637 and drove it off the end of a pier at
the harbour. Number 3637 mode every effort to keep itself ofloot un-
til help arrived, drifting out about 75 feet from shore. When it
could no longer stoy afloat, NUMber 3637 settled to the bottom in
about 35 feet of water.
Some 36 hours later, skin-divers, who hod been directed to the
oreo by sleuths from British Columbia Hydro, found Nu.ber 3637 rest_ i
ng peacefully on the bottom. The divers got a coble on the bus, but
could not move it until another diver …. ent do …. n to release the oirb
rakes, which were still holding fast:
Number 3637 has no …. been dried out and completely overhauled to
rid it of the effects of salt water. By the time this item appears,
Number 3637 …. ill be running on its normal routes in Vancouver, but
this time on good solid, dry land:
Iu CAR NUHBER 80 Of THE LEVIS COUNTY RAILWAY, PREDECESSOR Of LES TRAH
I~ …. oys de Ljvis (au6bec), was one of the first one-man cars in Ljvis,
being converted from a two-man cor. The picture was token in front
of the corbarn on Fraser Street in 1918. Number 80 …. 05 burned in
the fraser Corbarn fire of february 1921 …. ith 10 other cars. The
cor …. as pointed in dark green, …. ith white lettering and cream trim. The
photo is from the colection of Hr. E. Doe, former General Mana
ger of levis Transport and is reproduced with his kind permission.
is po.bIished mont, by the
Canadian Ra*oad Historical Association
CALGARY t. SOUTH WESTERN
l.tI.Un .. i~. Secretary 1727 23rd. Ayeue N.W. Ca1oo.y, Alto,T2tI
W.R.LIl.y,S.~t.tory P.O.Bo~ 141,Stotion
R.H,Meyer, Seccetory P.O,Box lOQ6,Sltion
Voncouv •• ,B.C.V6C
J,tI.tlei.le,Secretay,P.O.Box 6102,5totio C, Edeon la.l to. T 58
TORONTO 4 YORK OtV!SIOH
P.Sh.rgald,Secretary P.O. Box SU9 T … iol
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Vosit the Canadian Railway Musevm St.(;onslant;Ouebe<:. CarOOa..
• More than IOOpieces of equipment on d$)lay-