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Canadian Rail 431 1992

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Canadian Rail 431 1992

Canadian Rail
ISSN 0008-4875
EDITOR: Fred F. Angus
ITOR: Douglas N. W_ Smith
DUCTION: A. Stephen Walbridge
HER: William A. Germaniuk
lAYOUT: =-ed F, Angus
For your membership in the CRHA, which includes a
subscripliOfl 10 Canadian Rail. write 10:
CRHA. 120 Rue St-Pierre, Sf. Constant, Que. J5A 2G9
Rates: in Canada: $29 (including GST).
outside Canada: $26. in U.S. funds.
I-RINTING: Procel Printing
………………………………………… DOUGLAS N,W. SMITH ……….. 216
Canadian Rail is continually In need of news, stories, historical data. photos. maps and other material. Please send all coolributions to the
or: Fred F. Angus, 3021 Tratalgar Ave. Mootreat. P.O. H3Y 1 H3. No payment can be made for contributions. but the contrlbuter will
begivencredit for material submined. Material will be returned to tllecontnbutori1 reQUested. Remember Knowledge is ollinle value unless
it is shared with others.
Frederick F. Angus Hugues W. Bonin J. Christopher Kyle
Jack A. Beatty
Robert Carlson William Le Surt
Charles De Jean Bernard Martin
Wal:cr J. Bedbrook
Gerard t-echeue Roben V.V. Nicholl!:
Alan C. Blackburn David W. Johnson Andrew W. Panko
The CRHA has a number of local divisions across the country. Many hOld regular meetings
issue newsletters. Further information may be obtained by writing 10 Ihe division.
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A. Slephen Walbridge
John C. Weir
FRomCOIIER: LocI.NIIQliu 144 ofllu: IlIIcl
CO/Ollial RaihWJ) of Crmmia POSt., ill, IIIc
trai cr … w. Somt limt III lilt 1890s. TIIi .• elM
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for … ·OIi)-S{l·tl1 )t(lrs. btig r(lIrtd UlU/
sera(1ptd In 1910.
8ruIIs … irl: Mustum I f..t Muse … d Nou­
rUIIJWI< ~. Gift I BlIIll)wick 8rocl; AI/til.
As part of its activities, the CAHA operales
the Canadian Aailway Museum al Delson /
SI. Constant, Que. which is about t 4 miles
Km.) from downtown Monlreal. 1 is
open from lale May to early October
until Labour Day). Members. and their Im­
mediate families,
are admitted free of charge.
The Phoenix Foundry of Saint John N.B.
and George Fleming, Locomotive Builder
Part 2 (1868 -1954)
By Fritz Lehmann
After producing nine locomotives in the decade 1858-
1868, the Phoenix Foundry did not build another until late in 1880.
The firm continued to advertise its wide assortment of products,
and regularly exhibited stationary steam engines, iron turning
lathes, water pipe stop gates, iron work for
ships use, and the like.
The finn won a public contract and built a steam fog whistle for
Point Lepreaux in 1869, and was an unsuccessful
among the 33 firms bidding for work on the reconstruction
of the
Saint John Custom House in 1879, following the great Saint John
of 1877. The Flemings were not directly affected by the fire
which spared both the foundry and the
homes of the owners. The
Phoenix Foundry builtapowerful150horsepowerengine (cylinders
361/2 diameter by 78 stroke) for the river steamer May Queen
in 1869, reboilered the Dominion dredge boat
at Saint John in
1878, and was invited to tender for the
engine for a new steamship
by the International Steamship Co. (Boston-Halifax-Saint John
services) in 1871.
What happened to the locomotive business in this period?
The political changes following New Brunswicks Confederation
with other provinces into the new Dominion
of Canada brought
some economic consequences.
The European and North American
Railway (E&NA) and the Nova Scotia
Railway were merged into
the new Intercolonial Railway (ICR), and the
major decisions were
no longer made in the Maritime provinces but in Ottawa.
bought locomotives in larger batches, beginning with orders for
of 15, 15, and 10, and the men making the decisions did not
know Fleming or his Foundry personally, unlike the original
E&NA Comissioners. During the 1870s, the Intercolonial began
a practice
of selling outmoded locomotives to short lines and
industrial users in the Maritimes. Thus the Intercolonial competed
for the customers most likely to order locomotives one at a time,
the kind
of customer best suited to the productive capabilities of
the Phoenix Foundry.68 Indeed, a few of the Phoenix Foundrys
customers for new locomotives in the 1880sdid buy used locomotives
from the ICR as well.
The closer economic ties with the other British North
American colonies almost immediately brought competition in
other areas to Flemings door. In the
summer of 1868, the Saint
papers carried big advertisements To Millowners and
Lumbermen, extolling what was claimed to be The Best Shingle
Mills in the World, offered by the Montreal firm
of W. P. Bartley
& Co.,
the St. Lawrence Engine Works.69 And the Phoenix
Foundry was still making and advertising:
Machinery for Saw and Grist Mills; also Castings and
of the various descriptions required in carrying on the
important industrial operations
of the Lower Provinces …
This was an incursion into its traditional market.
of tariff barriers between provinces, and the steady
of cheaper and more reliable transportation, began to
produce something
approaching a national market with more
potential for specialised manufacturers
of machinery (and other
products). Fleming probably was
not yet affected in 1868, but as
the transport work continued to
grow (for example, the completion
of the Intercolonial Railway between Central Canada and the
Maritimes in 1876), a
number of his local customers undoubtedly
began to
tum to specialized products like the Bartley shingle mill.
But for some years, the Phoenix Foundry continued to be a general
of a wide range of goods.
Rathersurprisingly, the Foundry had anothertry at locomotive
building in the 1880s. This coincides with the gradual
shift in
leadership from the senior
Heming to his sons. Although George
Fleming visited the plant daily right up to the last few months
his life, he is said to have retired ten or twelve years before his
death in 1887. This
meant that the direction had shifted to James
Fleming, 39 in 1880, and William, 37 in that year. James already
had assumed
the practical supervision of the works in 1875,
when William was said to attend
to the outside and financial
of the firm. Both men had started work in the firm from
very young ages, William from about
11 or 12 years old. The three
men lived in rather
modest houses on Hazen Street, within close
walking distance of the works. After George Flemings death,
James moved away, but to Wellington Row, still a short walk from
the works. It seems that
their lives centered around the family firm.
All three appear to have lived on a modest scale, and to have had
few interests outside th
eir work.71
In early 1878, the Phoenix Foundry employed 55 men and
5 boys
at average wages of $6.50 (men) and $3.50 (boys) per
But by the end of 1878 the firm only operated three-fourths
employment was
down to 40. The depression of that year left
the finn with idle capacity, probably encouraging the
bid for new Intercolonial locomotive contracts. Their success in
getting a contract for nine locomotives–equal to their total previous
production–meant they ran full time through 1880, including
three months
of overtime, kept 90 men employed.7J The ICR had
called for tenders by
December 5,1879, at which date the Flemings
won a contract for nine Mogul (2-6-0) freight engines at $9,900
each, a total
of$89,100. These engines, with 18·x 24 cylinders
and 54 drive wheels, were larger than any previously built by the
firm. When
the last one was completed in June 1881, production
had averaged one locomotive every two months.
The locomotives,
of course, were built to ICR designs supplied from Ottawa.
This began a busy and rewarding period for the Flemings.
The partnership leased additional adjacent land, built some new
buildings, and installed new machinery.
The Saint John papers
specifically mention one large shipment from
Dundas, Ontario
(presumably from McKechnie
& Bertram, although the originating
firm is
not named) which included 4 lathes, a slotting machine, and
a planer.
Lots of work meant full employment and satisfactory
profits, and morale at the foundry seems
to have been high. Upon
of the first ICR contract for the nine 2-6-0s, the
Fleming employees proposed a celebration. This was reported in
Saint John Daily Evening News of June 21, 1881 under the
heading, Iron Workers Pic-nic, and certainly implies an era
good feelings in the industry:76
The iron workers in the city factories are arranging for a pic­
nic to celebrate the completion
of nine locomotivesfor the Intercolonial
Railway. The idea originated with the workmen
of Messrs. Fleming
& Sons, who are making these locomotives, and the employees of
James Harris & Co., E. R. Moore, and others in this line of work,
have been asked to join the movement. The last locomotive
Messrs. Flemings contract, and a number of the cars built by
James Harris
& Co. will be usedfor the occasion. Everyone will
be pleased to see these skilled workmen enjoying a holiday,
riding in a train of cars drawn by a locomotive all made by
[emphasis added.]
& Sons were bold in undertaking such a big
contract, but they had done some locomotive work for the Intercolonial
in the late 1870s that
may have given both the Foundry owners and
the Intercolonial
confidence in their ability to handle a large order.
In 1875-76 the firm had rebuilt four older broad gauge engines as
of the Intercolonials program of converting to standard gauge
operation. Some Intercolonial locomotives had been built
to a
of the Grand Trunks Richard Eaton which permitted easy
123, built in 1881, photographed in Saint John on a snowy day about 1890.
Photo courtesy
of the New Brunswick Museum (gift of Charles A. Brown, 1967).
lCR 124 at an unknown locarion sometime in the 1890s.
National Archives
of Canada, Merrilees collection, photo PA-185936.
THIS PAGE, TOP: Number 127 coupled
to a freight train, and with all the crew present, ready to roll. This locomotive is the one thaI
completed the order for nine, and was lIsed on the pic-nic train
in June, 1881. Note the pocket for the /ink and pin coupler. This dates the
photo to the 1880s or early 1890s.
Photo courtesy
of the New Brunswick Museum (collection of C. Warren Anderson).
Page 186







: ,ii
!; .


conversion. Rebuilding the other locomotives, however, involved
more extensive work. While average costs
to adapt the locomotives
designed to be convertible was $527.59 per engine, the cost
rebuilding the other locomotives including the four undertaken by
Fleming was
n In the 1880s,
Fleming & Sons did some
more locomotive rebuilding for the Intercolonial. This work
included an historically interesting
job, a contract to alter and
repair eight
of the locomotives used by Andrew Onderdonk to
construct the Canadian Pacific transcontinental line between Port
Moody and Craigellachie, British Columbia between 1880 and
1885.78 Comprising four 2-6-0 type locomotives, originally built
for the Virginia
& Truckee Railroad in 1869 and 1870, as well as
four 4-4-0 type locomotives built by the Baldwin Locomotive
Works for Onderdonk in 1884, the engines had seen hard use. After
CP declined
to purchase the locomotives, the Dominion government
decided they would be used on the Intercolonial.
Contracts for rebuilding locomotives may have been
profitable to the firm, but opportunities to build new
were undoubted Iy more satisfying. Before the 1879 order for nine
2-6-0s were completed, Fleming won another contract from the
Intercolonial. On April 26, 1881 the Intercolonial
gave Fleming
& Sons an order for seven passenger locomotives, 4-4-0s with 17
x 24 cylinders, 69 drive wheels, to burn bituminous coal.
cont.ract price was $10,200 each.79 A little more than a year later,
on June 26, 1882, the Intercolonial
gave Fleming & Sons an
additional contract for three more
4-4-0S.80 A third order followed
the next year when the Intercolonial was authorized by an order in
council dated July
7,1883 to purchase four additional locomotives
from George Fleming and Sons.
The last two orders were repeats
of the passenger locomotive, making fourteen in all of this design;
a good thing for the Phoenix Foundry, which could
economize by
using the
same patterns. One of these engines remained in service
until 1925, an excellent longevity record for a locomotive
of this
With locomotives, boilers, and mill machinery filling the
order books the finn kept 90 men employed in 1880-81, including
three months
of extra time, and even so had to turn away work
because the Foundry was running at full capacity. Indeed, the
firm was so busy that Fleming
& Sons were obliged to enlarge
their works
to provide for their increased business, according to
a July 1881 report.
A New Brunswick firm, SI. Martins
Manufacturing Company, complained that it had to order an
engine and boiler from Brantford, Ontario, because all the Saint
John foundries were too busy with other work.
The first of the new passenger locomotives for the
Intercolonial was completed
in November 1881 –only seven
months after securing a contract that required all new patterns.
& Sons ran the engine out as far as Rothesay … on a trial
But the Phoenix Foundry continued with other work. in
work was completed on a new boiler for the tug Xanthus
which attracted notice because of its novel mode of delivery being
lowed overfrom the manufactory by rhe slieerlocomorive recently
made by Mr. George Waring, of Indiantown. Warings machine
shop was a neighbor
of the Phoenix Foundry, and was an occasional
collaborator. In the following year William Waring was putting
up two Fleming horizontal engines for the Joggins Coal Mines in
Nova Scotia
Also in 1882, the Flemings built four boilers for the
Saint John Cotton Factory, shipped two large boilers to a Halifax
grain elevator, and supplied a boiler,
made with Glasgow steel,
for the Saint John brass foundry
of Messrs. McAvity. In 1883
& Sons displayed a monster locomotive and a 300
horsepower stationary engine for a mine at the Provincial Exhibition,
built two large boilers for a
new Prince Edward Island coastal
steamer, and were reported
to be enlarging their foundry and
machine shops
87 These improvements to the works continued, for
the firm leased
adjacent lots and put new buildings on them in 1885
and 1887.
Employment levels, however, varied over the 1880s.
There were only
62 (50 men at $6.50 per week, 12 boys at $2.50)
in 1884, down to
30 in 1886, and back up to 80 (with an annual
payroll reported
at $30,000) in 1889.88 Perhaps the enlargements
were not so
much devoted to increasing the firms volume of
production, but may have been necessary to enable it to handle
technological changes and
jobs that were physically larger.
The local press noticed very little of Fleming & Sons work
in the next few years; those they did were chiefly marine contracts.
There were new shafts for the May Queen, new boilers for the
Fawn and Western Extension in 1884-85.
The firm had the
contract for the
Railway Bridge Companys iron trestle work along
the Saint John wharves in 1884, and an ICR contract for an iron
footbridge and a wider road bridge
over the railway line in Saint
in 1886.
The following year, Fleming & Sons had a $20,000
job at SI. Fabien to build about one-third of a mile of iron snow
sheds using 300 tons
of old rails; for this work temporary machine
shops were
put up on the site.
In June 1885 the Daily Sun noticed
that Fleming
& Sons turned out two new locomotives for the
in the last two days and would likely commence
two more soon.
In 1886, the firm supplied four more 2-6-0s to
the ICR.
These were the last new engines it built for that railway.
While these were the last engines built for the Maritime
trunk line,
Fleming and Sons was able to continue building
locomotives as
it secured orders from the expanding number of
short lines in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The first delivery
of a Fleming engine to a short line had occurred in 1867 when the
SI. James, a 4-4-0, was received by the St. Stephen Railway
which ran from St. Stephen to Watt Junction, New Brunswick.
After a gap
of fifteen years, sales to short Jines became a major
of the companys business during the 1880s. As locomotive
of these companies are incomplete, the exact year of
delivelY is not known for all the locomotives which Fleming
provided to the
short lines (see roster on pages 198 and 199).
OPPOSITE PAGE: This map ,from Roe alld Colbys Atlas of Saint John, dated 1875, shows the location of George Fleming and Sons Phoenix
It is located at the corner of Pond and Hazen streets, less rhan 400 feet from the Intercolonial Railway station. George Flemings
house on Hazen Street also appears, about 400 feet to the right
of rhe Foundry. The present-day VIA station is about on the site of the small
rectangular building near the upper right
comer of the large building labeled Freight Depot. At that time the city limits of Saint Johl1 passed
through a
comer of the passenger station, for the ajoining lown of Portland was not annexed to Saint John until 1889.
of Fred Angus.
A view of the Phoenix Foundry about 1905. In the background can be seen Stone Church as well as theformer library, both stil/ standing
today. The photo was likely taken
from the roof of the 1884 freight shed, near where the VIA station is /law.
Photo from the Partridge Island Research Project, courtesy
of Harold Wright.
[n 1882, the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company took
of a 2-6-0 for use on its line between Springhill and
PaITsboro, Nova Scotia.
In 1884, two locomotives were shipped to
the Albert Railway, which operated between Salisbury and Albert,
New Brunswick. The following year, the Elgin, Petitcodiac and
Havelock Railway
is believed to have received an engine for use
between the New Brunswick settlements
in its corporate. title.
The year 1887 proved to be a baru1er time for shOit line
locomotive orders. The Moncton and Buctouche Railway, which
its line between these two towns that year, is repOited
to have been operating a Fleming
locomotive in August 1887.92
The Joggins Railway, which was cOl:npleting its line from Maccan
to Joggins, Nova Scotia, ordered a locom
otive on May 3rd, 1887.
It was completed
by October 26th, 1887. The following day, the
firm completed Central Railway Company
of New Brunswick
locomotive number
1.93 The engine was used on the St. Martins
and Upham Railway which had been leased by the Central Railway
that year.
[n November 1887, it was reported that two large
s were under construction for the Cumberland Railway and
Coal Company. These engines were nearly completed
in March
and May
of 1888.
In December 1887, another locomotive for the
Central Railway was abo
ut completed and the frame for one of
two additional 2-6-0 type locomotives for the Joggins Railway was
reported as already built
The New Brunswick and Prince Edward Railway, which
operated from Sackville to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick,
received a 4-4-0
in 1888.
This brought to an end the locomotive
building era at Fleming
& Sons.
It is estimated that Fleming built nine locomotives for
Maritime short lines, giving a total
of 5 J Fleming built locomotives.
In addition, the firm was kept busy with contracts to repair and
rebuild locomotives. According
to one source, the firm continued
to do this work until as late as 1914.
Not all Maritime short lines chose Fleming products.
New Brunswick Railway, the largest railway in New Brunswick,
hose to purchase locomotives from firms in Kingston, Ontario
and Manchester, New Hampshire during 1885 instead
of from
Notwithstanding the New Brunswick Railways lack of
confidence, the railways purchasing Fleming locomotives were
enthusiastic. Mr. R.G. Leckie. Manager
of the Cumberland Coal
and Railway Company, told the Saint John Daily Sun in 1887 that
& Sons were building locomotives for his line:
A very rare view of the interior of the Phoenix Foulld,y about 1905. By this time the manufacture of locomotives had long since ceased.
Photo from
D. Black of Saint John, courtesy of Harold Wright.
They are building two large engines
of the Mogul pattern,
very heavy engines, with all the latest improvements. They will
on the line between Springhill and Pug wash. [Editors note: The
line to Pug wash was never built] We had an engine from the works
of Fleming & Son some years ago, and found it highly satisfactory.
We considered it to be equal to any to be had in the States. I
understand that the firm have
[sic] been compelled to refuse orders
and that
if they chose /0 do so they could largely ex/end their
operations .

Again, we note the hint that the Flemings deliberately kept their
of business down to a level compatible with a family-owned
and operated business.
The year 1887 did see major changes in the Phoenix
Foundry, however, for George Fleming died on July 26th, at the
of 87. His wife, Barbara Fleming, died on AprilS, 1889 at age
The two sons who had been running the firm during his last
years applied for probate, which provides
us with a number of
documents detailing the partnership and family affairs. James, the
elder brother, was 46 and William 44. Their father
trad offered
them a partnership back in 1860 (when he and
Humbert still owned
the Foundry together), to take effect
in 1870. This was presumably
an inducement to the sons, then both in their late teens,
to stay in
the family business. Two other sons apparently did not. Charles
Fleming pre-deceased his father, and Robert W. Fleming was in 1887 described as a Master Mariner
of Saint John, although he
is not listed in the city directories
of that era. A surviving daughter
was married and Jiving in Boston, Mass.
The sons who joined the firm, however, had to pay their
The partnership agreement required them to purchase full
one-third shares in the capital stock
of the business, valued at
$34,000. As well, they had to pay interest at
7% on the unpaid
of their shares. Having complied with these terms, both
sons were full partners at the time
of George Flemings death. That
event, however, led to a chancery suil between James and William.
This led to a court order
to sell the business at public auction so that
William could be paid out. James bought the business for
at the sale in Saint John on June 2, 1888. The partnership was
dissolved, and thereafter he was the sole owner.
Shortly afterwards,
William Fleming made preparations to start a
new business for
He adveltised for tenders to construct a brick machine
shop on Charlotte Street Extension in Saint John, on July 24th.I
George Fleming had buill up a considerable fortune by the
of his death. He had $32,000 in the Bank of Montreal, and held
of the Province of New Brunswick and of the City of
Saint John and shares in the Saint John Gas Light Co., the Bank of
New Brunswick, and the Prince Edward Island Steam Navigation
Corporation. While Fleming had built up a solid fortune, he nev
spent much of it on himself. 101 His personal assets reflected his
frugal life. His executors, all the adult family members, valued his
Intercolonial Railway No. /30 was an fine-looking 4-4-0 built by the Phoenix Foundry in 1881, one of a group of three similar
locomotives. Note the ICR monogram on the lender.
National Archives
of Canada, Menilees Collection, Photo No. PA-184334.
house on Hazen St. at $1600 (and in the equity COUIt sale by
auction, one
of them bought it for their mother for $800) and his
personal property at $460. A gold watch at $100 topped the list,
by kitchen furniture & stove, 24 hour clock, hot air
furnace at $50; the sitting room and parlor each had carpets, and
a microscope (valued at $20) and a telTestial globe ($5) rounded
out the list.
George Fleming
had always been noted for the kindness
and consideration with which he regarded his employees, said his
obituary writer.
102 One expects pious praise (or discrete silence) on
such occasions, but
Fleming seems to have enjoyed the SUppOIt of
a stable and loyal work force. In the last half of the nineteenth
century, machinists and foundrymen were highly-regarded, skilled
tradesmen; machinists wages in St. John were usually among the
highest paid
of any trade. So although the ship labourers, the ship
carpenters, and other groups were organized and sometimes went
out on strike, as late as 1888 the Royal Commission on Labour was
told by a Saint John machinist,
Machinists have no labor organization in St. 10hn.103 The only
reference I have found to a labor dispute involving the Phoenix
Foundry during George Flemings lifetime was an event
in 1872.
On June 4th of that year, the Morning Freeman announced:
The boiler makers are out on strike, the employers
having refused to comply with the demand for an increase
The next issue announced that the major firms had settled with the
The case of one firm which did not cooperate is instructive.
John W. Fleming, no relation
of George, had begun his Lower
Cove Boiler Works in October 1868. He refused to give his men
a general increase
in wages in 1872, offering instead a selective
raise for
those whom he considered worth it; nor would he take
back all the men who had gone out on strike.
On June 25th, the
papers repOited his conviction for assault on Frank Williams, a
union organizer,
of the Boiler Makers Association. On July 1st, he
sailed for Europe with his wife. After returning to
Saint John at the
end of August, Fleming advertised a new co-partnership with
Charles Cochran (the former boiler shop foreman in the Halifax.
locomotive works
of William Montgomery). The two new partners
published their defiance
of a body of men styling themselves the
Steam Boiler Makers Association, who were apparently advocating
a boycott
of the Lower Cove Boiler Works. By 1874, both John W.
Fleming and his Lower Cove Boiler Works were
gone from Saint
105 The point of this is that George Fleming, a prudent and
A photo of the arrival of the first train into Dalhousie New Brunswick. The dale was 1884, and the locomotive was one of the group of
Iline 2-6-0s built by Fleming ill 1880 and 1881.
Canadian National Railways, Photo No. 48439-A.
successful businessman, rapidly came to terms with the only
labour union reported in his firm in his lifetime, as did most
of the
other foundrymen.
The one man who did notdo so appears· to have
been a poor businessman,
and did not long survive on the Saint
John manufacturing scene.
A few stray not
es point to positive feelings among Flemings
The Phoenix Foundry apprentices made a cannon in
1855 to fire salutes
in celebration of the British victory at Sebastapol.
The Phoenix Battery of apprentices also fired salutes for one of
the fathers of Confederation, the Honourable S. L. Ti Iley, in 1867
and H.R.H. Prince Arthur in 1869.
Three apprentices were injured
in 1874 while firing such a salute on William Flemings wedding
day, a holiday for the
Foundrys workers. Allhe request of the
injured men,
Mr. Fleming, who left with his bride 011 the Western
train .
.. received no word of the affair. The men of the Phoenix
Foundry carried
a splendid silk banner in the 1860 parade forthe
Prince of Wales visit to Saint John. The European and North
American Railway named a locomotive which Fleming delivered
to them that year for the royal visitor. We have already noted the
holiday pic-nic
in June 1881, celebrating the completion of the
first ICR locomotive contract. Unlike almost all the other Canadian
locomotive builders,
George Fleming took part
in neither civic politics nor church
affairs. In the
1840s and 1850s, he had cooperated with Harris &
Allan and other foundrymen to ask for protective duties from the
New Brunswick government. In 1872, George Fleming & Sons
cooperated with Harris, the Allan brothers and other foundrymen
in setting a new price schedule for castings which increased their
prices from 4 1/2
to 7 cents per pound.
The firm participated in
Saint John manufacturers meeting against the reciprocity treaty
in 1874; an unspecified Fleming spoke
in favor of the N.P.
(National Policy of protective tariffs) at a city mechanics and
manufacturers meeting in 1882; and James Fleming appeared at a
city protest meeting against the use
of Canadian mail subsidies to
benefit American ports. lOS George Fleming, to lise a modern
idiom, kept a low profile in public life.
Fleming was active in public exhibitions which
gave him
chance to show off his work. He sen! a small,S horsepower
oscillating steam engine to Londons Great Exhibition of 1862 and
won a certificate
of honourable mention. At The Exhibition held
Saint John in 1867, Fleming and Humbert won prizes for the best
steam engine and the best lathe for iron.
The firm of George
Stationary engines of all kinds,
machinery for the mills and factories
in and around
Saint John, boilers,
ships tanks, gasometers, branch pipes
and water gates from 3 t024 diameter
for the
City of Saint John Water
Works seem to have been the big
volume products
of the foundry. 1 1 1
The Victoria Rink, on City Road in Saint John, decorated for the Manufacturers and
Mechanics Exhibition
of 1875. Fleming and Sons had an ambitious display at this
exhibition. The present-day Colonial Inn occupies part
of the site of this rink.
A fragment of the Phoenix FoundlYs
general ledger, only twenty pages,
survives in the New Brunswick
Museum. 1 12 It lists 35 customers with
dates ranging from 1871 to 1
880 (a
few minor
customers accounts run a
bit later).
Eleven of these customers
areships that had boilers ormachinelY
There is only one railway
customer listed, the
New Brunswick
and Canada Railway. Among a few
small items, this
railway paid Fleming
$216.71 inApril1871 forcylinders.
The City Corporation both taxed the
firm and used its services, sp
$180.36 for repairs to Fire Engine
No.2 in 1878. Kirk & Daniel bought
$2200 horizontal engine on
installments in 1875, Alexander
Barnhill bought another in the same
Photo from the Hall Collection of the Partridge Island Research Project. Courtesy of
Harold Wright.
Fleming & Sons had a more ambitious Saint Johns.
s and Mechanics Exhibition of 1875, as they provided
the large horizontal
25 horsepower engine that drove all the
machinery on display.
The 5 horsepower engine from the 1862
English fair was u
sed as a feed water pump for it. The Phoenix
Foundry also displayed iron
columns for the new
City Market, built in 1876
and still in use, water
or stopcocks, propeller wheels, parts of steam
engines, a general
assortment of machinery casting,
and specimens
of finished work. William Fleming
showed improved
blacksmiths tools, and James
Fleming was on the exhibitions machinery
We have a/ready noted the monster
locomotive and large stationary engine which the
Flemings exhibited at the 1883 fair.
Locomotives brought prestige and profit,
but the variety of products shown at these exhibitions
remind us that the
firms long term success depended
on the more humble goods it produced. The skills
might show to advantage in the locomotive field –
for example, when an admiring
Saint John audience
was told
of the E&NA locomotive Robert Jardine
in 1868 th
at: 1 10
year for $1500, while Dearboll1 &
Co. bought a horizontal tubular
in 1878 for $560. Simeon Jones, later a mayor of Saint John, paid
$540 for a locomotive tubular boiler for his brewery in 1878,
so paying Fleming to have his old boiler taken out. The Coldbrook
Rolling Mills
of James Domville & Co. were big customers, taking
$8337.74 worth of engines, boilers, girders, etc. with the most
-; -~
.—-. _ …….
It may be somewhat of a novelty to our
readers to state that all the spokes
of the [driving]
wheels are hollow, thus giving at one and the same
lightness and strength to these whirling mediums
of progression. Monctoll and Buctouche Railway
No.2, a 4-4-0built by Flemings Phoenix
ill 1887.
National Archives of Canada, Merrilees Collection, Photo No. PA-185767.
A fine example of the locomotive builders art is Cumberland Railway and Coal Company No.7. This was one of the last locomotives built
at the Phoenix Foundry, and dates from the period when the orders from the Intercolonial had stopped, so all
of Flemings locomotive
construction was
for short lines. In the original photo the inscription on the circular builders plate (between the last two pairs of driving
is visible and reads: GEORGE FLEMING & SONS ST. JOHN, NB. 1888.
National Archives
of Canada, Merrilees Collection, Photo No. PA-185769.
expensive single item a large cast shears with engine attached,
The bed for this was one of the Foundrys larger castings,
17,000 lbs.; a five-ton spur wheel and pinion for this firm was one
of Phoenix Foundrys 1875 exhibition displays. 113
The ledger pages are only a fragment, and cant give us any
of the whole scope of the Phoenix Foundrys business in the
of the 1870s. But they demonstrate convincingly why the
firnl was interested
in locomotive building. Any single locomotive
which the film built brought in far more revenue than any
of the
customers recorded here.
Flemings first impulse on assuming control of the
business in
1888 was to advertise in his own name: JAMES
FLEMING, Successor to George Fleming & Sons with notices
that the firm would continue to
do business at the same place, in
my own name and on my own account.
114 This is understandable
enough A new innovation, was his decision to run the n
locomotive for the Central Railway out of the works under its own
steam. Although the firm had been making locomotives for three
decades, this had apparently never been done before, and the
account in the Daily Sun
of Oct. 27, 1887 makes it clear why not:
It was a novel sight to witness a huge new locomotive go out
underftlll steam .
.. through the doors of Flemings foundl] on a
track laid
for the purpose …. To make clear the real difficUlties
to be overcome, it must be stated that the track running au! of the
foundry was
at right angles with the side track, and that the latter again made
100 great an angle of junction with the yard track to
of the use of afrog and switch. Yet, by one head and a dozen
of hands, the transfer was accomplished. The head sits upon
the shoulders
of James Fleming, and the hands were those of his
employees. The engine stea
med out of the shop upon a cradle (fWO
rails bolted together and laid upon small iron rollers) and the
lalter with its burden was quite easily turned around so that the
engine was .
… in line with the side track …. The whole thing was
easy when one saw it done …. The plan was bold, and not
skillfully executed. Had itfailed, a
40 ton engine would have been
removed at a very considerable cost
of time and money ….
The remarkable aspect of this event is that it reveals that
for all those years, the Phoenix Foundry had never bothered to
make a direct rail connection to the European and NOith American
Railway or its successor,
the Intercolonial. The Foundry had been
in business
on the site long before the railway came to Saint John,
but unlike so
me awkwardly-located locomotive builders (such as
Flemings Halifax contemporary, William Montgomery), the
railway came virtually to the
Foundrys door. In the twentieth
century, visitors noted direct rail connections existed. Eventually
the street the.Foundry was located upon, Pond St., was renamed
Station St. The original Mill Pond for which the street had been
named had been filled
in during 1872 when an extension to the
railway station was built on the site,
liS Locomotive Works had
been added
to the Foundrys popular title as early as 1862, without
the firm feeling any need
to get a railway line laid into the plant.
A sad end to a Fleming locomotive! The last locomotive built by Fleming for the Il1Irecolonial Railway was No. 173, a 2-6-0 built in 1886.
On the morning of September 8, 1892 it was leaving Stellartol1 Nova Scotia for Piclou with a coal train when its boiler exploded .. The
locomotive was so badly damaged that it was scrapped. See page 179
of Canadian Rail No. 430, September-October 1992,for defat Is of
this accident.
National Archives
of Canada, Merrilees Collection, Photo No. PA-164735.
It is surprising that the Phoenix Foundrys building of new
came to an end within two years of George Flemings
death. Was James Fleming unwilling, or more likely unable, to get
more contracts from the railways? In 1888 he supplied much of the
iron work for the new railway bridge at Fredericton, repaired two
locomotives for the Intercolonial Railway and one for the
branch. The last was completely rebuilt with a new boiler. In 1889,
James appeared on the platform
at a magnificent mass meeting
in the Mechanics Institute to support
the mayors call urging
Canadian steamship subsidies
to support Canadian ports winter
summer –a special Saint John interest. That same year, he
joined the Saint John Board
of Trade and was elected a director of
the Mechanics Institute. A profile of the firm in the Daily Sun that
year said
their payroll the previous year had been $30,000 and that
80 men were cUITently employed, about the same number of men
same amount of wages for the preceeding twenty years. Much
of the stock, boiler plate, boiler tubes, etc. was then imponed from
Scotland, but pig iron and bar iron came from the Londonderry,
Scotia works. Later in 1889, Messrs. Fleming and Sons were
reported to be converting a steam railway crane into a dredging
machine with-mussel
–ct-iggel ~imilar to-those -used-in-B-osto7T
harbor superior to the ordinary spoon dredge for the
Intercolonial Railway. But the firms biggest project
of that year
appears to be the rebuilding
of the engine of the steamer Flushing as a compound
to a-desIgn by Jam-esFlerning, with cylinders ZO
and 38 in diameter with a 22 stoke which produced 400
horsepower. I 17
The firm went more heavily into the marine engine area in
JamesFlemingdied in 1899, and was succeeded
by his three sons George W., Herbert J., and Walter
M. Fleming.
The firm was described in 1903 as employing between 130 and 150
men, and performing largely
steamboat and mill work. I IS By the
1920s the Phoe
nix Foundry was in the internal combustion engine
business, making Mianus engines in
one or two cylinder sizes,
ng 3 to 15 horsepower, for Bay of Fundy fishing boats.
Lloyds Register of Shipping listed James Fleming of Saint John
as a shipbuild
er and an engine and boiler builder through the 1922-
23 volume. George
W. Fleming, apparently the last Fleming to
manage the Foundry, died on January 9th, 1932.
The Foundry itself
went out
of business sometime afterwards, and the remaining
building, used as a warehouse by
Thornes Hardware, Ltd., was
destroyed in a fire in
December 1954. The last survivor of the
Fleming foundrymen, Walter M. Fleming,
celebrated his 78th
birthday in Saint John
in 1956 with reminiscences of the E&NA
locomotives and the glorious
past of his familys business. His
memories, or perhaps his interviewers interest, were more focussed
on the mid-nineteen
th century than the mid-twentieth.
Special thanks to Mary AUen for typing this manuscript.
One of the last major col1lracts awarded to the Phoenix Foundry was for the steel hull, boilers and engines of the ferry boaf LUDLOW
(named after Gabriel Ludlo
w, the first Mayor of Saint John) which served as an important transportation link across Saint John harbour
from 1906 to
1930, when it was replaced by a new vessel named LOYALIST, The top photo shows the ceremony of the launching of the
in 1906, while the bOllom photo,from a postcard mailed in 1907, shows it under full steam, In the photo of the launching, we
see, standing just under the rudder, Dr. Walter W. White, Mayor of Sailll Johl1, and Mrs. White. The ceremony of launching was pelformed
by Mrs. White: vel} appropriate since she was the daughter of Howard D. Troop, a noted shipowner of Saint John. Dr. and Mrs White were
the grandparents
of your editor.
Both photos from the collection
of Fred Angus.
68 e.g., Halifax Morning Chronicle, May 26, 1875, advertisement Intercolonial Railway -OLD ENGINES FOR SALE …
69 e.g., Saint John Morning Telegraph, July 23, 1868, advertisement with two illustrations of machines.
70 e.g., Saint John Morning Telegraph, The Workshops of Saint John: The Foundries, Jan. 26, 1867, says of Fleming & Humbert:
Here are manufactured
… stationary steam engines and boilers, machinery for saw and grist mills; also castings and machinery of the various
descriptions required in carrying on the important industrial operations
of the Lower Provinces.
James Hannay (1875), op.cit. [see footnote 1]. Georges house at 51 Hazen has been torn down, the others were still standing in 198 1-
-58 Hazen (James) and 66 Hazen (William). When all three men still lived on Hazen street, a local reporter indicated that it was far from
a fashionable part
of the city: And Hazen avenue is by no means beautiful. A good many of the buildings are strangers to paint; some of
them are decidely odorous … -in Mr. Tysick, Inventor and Machinist, Saint John Daily Sun, Sept. 23, 1886.
72 Parliament of Canada, Sessional Papers, 1885, no. 37 -Manufacturing Industries, pp. 148-149.
73 Saint John Daily Sun, July 19, 1881.
74 Parliament of Canada, Sessional Papers, 1882, no. 8l -Intercolonial Ry., pp. 10-11; Flemings price on this contract was $400 per
locomotive lower than his only Canadian rival in Kingston, ant. 27 British and 12 American firms were invited to bid on this business in
competition with the 2 Canadian firms.
Saint John Daily Sun, July 9, 1881 for the new machinery. Even the Montreal Gazette mentioned that Their foundry is to be enlarged
to facilitate
work in connection with the ICR locomotive contracts, April 26, 1881.
76 Saint John Daily Evening News, June 21, 1881.
77 Parliament of Canada, Sessional Papers, 1877, no. 6 -Public Works, appendix, p. 178.
78 Saint John Daily Sun, Aug. 31, 1887.
79 Parliament of Canada, Sessional Papers, 1882, no. 8 -Railways and Canals, appendix p. 147.
80 Ibid., appendix p. 123.
81 Ibid., 1885, no.
II -Railways & Canals, appendix p. 154.
82 A. Clegg & R. Corley, Canadian National Steam Power (Montreal, 1969), p. 68.
83 Saint John Daily Sun, July 19, 1881.
84 Saint John Daily Evening News, Nov. 16, 1881.
Saint John Daily Sun, Nov. 16, 1881.
Saint John Daily Evening News, Aug. 18 & Sept. 18, 1882.
87 Saint John Daily Sun, Nov. 24, 1882; Daily Evening News, Sept. 13 & Dec. 19, 1882; Mar. 5 & 8, Apr. 24, & Oct. 6. 1883.
88 For the real estate leases see New Brunswick Archives, Supreme Court in Equity, Fleming vs. Fleming, decree and report May 11,
For employment and wages see Parliament of Canada, Sessional Papers, 1885, no. 37, pp. 148-149; Saint John Daily Sun, Jan. 8,
1887; Apr.
89 Saint John Daily Evening News, Mar. 12, 1884; Daily Sun, Feb. 22 & 23, May 26, 1884.
Moncton Times, Sept. 14, 1887; St. John Daily Sun, Aug. 23, 1887.
Saint John Daily Sun, June 25, 1885.
92 Saint John Daily Sun, Aug. 20, 1887.
Saint John Daily Sun, Oct. 26 & 27,1887; Moncton Times, Oct. 28, 1887.
Saint John Daily Sun, Nov. 16 & Dec. 28,1887; Mar. 24 & May 24, 1888.
9S Saint John Daily Sun, Dec. 28, 1887.
96 R. F. Corley manuscript notes on Canadian National Railways motive power records.
97 Saint John Daily Sun, Sept. 4 & Oct. 2, l885.
98 Saint John Daily Sun, Nov. 16, 1887.
99 For partnership terms etc. see Supreme Court in Equity file, footnote 88. Bidding for the foundry started at $20,000 and was very
brisk until
James successful bid, according to one report. Fredericton Capital, June 9,1888.
100 Saint John Daily Sun, April 5 & 10, July 24, 1889.
Supreme Court in Equity file, cited footnote 88.
102 Saint John Daily Sun, July 27, 1887.
103 Saint John Daily Sun, Mar. 21. 1888. Note that Sheet Iron & Tin Plate Workers had a successful strike for higher wages in 1866
(Morning Telegraph, Sept. 4, 1866), the same year that the ship carpenter
s strike closed the Saint John shipyards: railway construction
workers had struck work unsuccessfully in 1858 (Morning News, May 5, 1858).
The absence of a machinists union can not be explained
by total ignoran
ce of labor organization in 19th century Saint John.
104 Saint John Morning Freeman, June 4 & 6, 1872; see also Daily News, June 4 & 6, 1872.
105 Saint John Morning News, Oct.
12, 1868; Morning Freeman, June 6, June 25, July 2, Aug. 27, 1872; Telegraph-Herald, Sept. 23,
1872; Daily News, Sept. 25, 1872; and McAlpines St. John City Directory, 1869170. 1870171. 1872173, and 1874/75.
106 Saint John Morning News, Aug. 6, 1860 & Apr. 3, 1867; Morning Freeman, Sept. 9, 1869; Daily News. Aug. 28, 1874.
107 Saint John Daily News, Sept. 25, 1872.
108 Saint John Daily News. Sept. 3, 1874; Daily Evening News, June 15, 1882; Daily Sun, Nov. 12, 1886.
109 Saint John Morning Telegraph, Jan. 26, 1867; Morning News, Oct.
14 & 16, 1867; Daily News, Sept. 29, Oct. 6 & 8, 1875.
110 Saint John Morning News,
The New Iron Horse, June 29, 1868.
111 James Hannay (1875), op. cit.; N.B.Museum,
Wards Historical Scrapbook, op.cit. [both cited footnote Il; Saint John Daily Sun,
April 3, 1889.
112 New Brunswick Museum: Phoenix Foundry Ledger (shelf 61).
113 Saint Jo
hn Daily News, Sept. 29, 1875.
114 Saint John Daily Sun, June
15, 1888 and following issues.
115 Saint John DaiJy News, June 14, 1872.
116 see footnote 27.
117 Saint John Daily Sun, Feb. 15, March 24, May
17 & 24, July 12, Oct. 24, all 1888; March 3 & 30, April 3 & 9, May 17, Aug. 10.
all 1889; and N.B. Museum,
Wards Historical Scrapbook, op.cit.
The Book of Saint John (Saint John: Telegraph Publishing Co., n.d., c. I 903), p. 95.
119 New Brunswick Museum CB file: William Easton, My Reco! lections
of Quoddy Bay, The Quoddy Times, Eastport, Maine, USA,
14, 1976.
120 New Brunswick Museum CB file:
Foundry Building on Station Street, Saint John Telegraph-Journal, Dec. 20, 1954: The Man
on the Street, Saint John Evening Times-Globe, Feb. 21, 1956.
RIGHT: How have Ihe miglllY fallen,
frol11 locomotives 10 popsicles.
This photo. laken on June
I, 1992,
shows whal now occupies Ihe sile of
the Phoenix Foundry -a popsicle
faclory. Sic Transil Gloria Mundi
by Fred Angus.
————–…. –_ …….. —–_ ……………………………. _-
4-4-0 14 X 22 66 AUG 1858 E&NA 8 Loostauk ICR 31. Sold to J.H. Beatty of Toronto ant. in 1882.
15 X 22 60 JUN 1859 E&NA 9 Ossekeag ICR 32. Sold to CPR in 1878 (7).
3 4-4-0 15 X 22 60 AUG 1859 E&NA 10 Apohaqui ICR 33.
4 4-4-0
15 X 22 66 JUL 1860 E&NA 12 Prince Of Wales ICR 34. Sold to J.H. Beatty. Resold to Fullerton Bros. Lumber
Mill, Little Forks N.B. Scrapped
in 1887.
15 X 22 66 NOV 1860 E&NA 13 Norton ICR 35. Sold to CPR in 1878 (7).
6 4-4-0 15 X 22 66 JUL 1861 E&NA 14 Prince Alfred ICR 36. Sold to Cummings of New Glasgow N.S. in 1898.
7 4-4-0
15 X 227 637 JAN 1867 SLS.B.Ry. St. James Sold to N.B. Ry. (No. 15) in 1890. Became CPR 492 in 1891.
in 1895.
16 X 24 60 JUN 1868 E&NA 15 Robert Jardine ICR 37. Sold to J.H. Beatty in 1880.
9 4-4-0 16 X 24 60 AUG 18687 E&NA 16
The Bear ICR 38. Sold to J .H. Beatty in 1880.
10 2-6-0 18 X 24 54 OCT 18807 ICR 119 Rebuilt as 0-6-0. Sold to A.E. Peters in 1899.
11 2-6-0 18 X 24 54 1880 ICR 120 CGR 1017. Rebuilt as 0-6-0. Scrapped in 1917.
12 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 1880 ICR 121 Sold to Moncton & Buctouche (first No. J) in 1887. Wrecked
Feb. 20, 1914.
13 2-6-0 18 X 24 54 JAN 1881 ICR 122 CGR 1018. Rebuilt as 0-6-0.
14 2-6-0 18 X 24 54 1881 ICR 123 CGR 1019. Rebuilt as 0-6-0.
18 X 24 54 MAR 1881 ICR 124 CGR 1020. Scrapped in 1917.
16 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 MAY 18817 ICR 125 Scrapped in 1890.
17 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 JUL 1881 ICR 126 CGR 1021. Scrapped in 1917.
18 X 24 54 JUN 1881 ICR 127 Completes contract for 9 locomotives. Sold to Chignecto
Branch Ry
(No.3) in 1914.
19 4-4-0 17 X24 69 NOV 18817 ICR 128 First of contract for 3. Rebuilt in 1897. Scrapped in 1910.
17 X 24 69 DEC 1881 ICR 129 CGR 1112. Rebuilt in 1894.
21 4-4-0
17 X 24 69 DEC 1881 ICR 130 CGR 1113. Rebuilt in 1895.
17 X 24 69 DEC 1881 ICR 131 First of contract for 4. Rebuilt in 1895. Scrapped in 1912.
23 4-4-0
17 X 24 69 DEC 1881 ICR 132 CGR 1114. Rebuilt in 1895.
24 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 1882? Cumberland Ry. & Coal Co. 3 Later No.6. Sold to Reid McManus, contractor, (No.8) in
1908. Sold
to Abrams Foundry (No. 1000) in 1913. Sold to
Moncton & Buctouche (second No. I) in 1914. Scrapped by
CNR in 1918.
17 X 24 69 JAN 1883 ICR 133 Wrecked in collision in 1885.
26 4-4-0
17 X 24 69 JAN 1883 ICR 134 Last of contract for 4. CGR 1115. Rebuilt in 1894. Scrapped
in 1917.
27 4-4-0 17 X 24 60 JAN 1883 ICR U5 CGR 1072. Rebuilt in 1901-Later CNR 118. Scrapped in May
1925. Last surviving Fleming locomotive.
28 4-4-0
17 X 24 60 FEB 1883 ICR 136 CGR 1073. Rebuilt in 190 I.
29 4-4-0 17 X 24 60 FEB 1883 ICR 137 CGR 1074. Rebuilt in 1895. Scrapped in 1917.
17 X 24 60 1883 ICR 142 No data.
31 4-4-0
17 X 24 60 1883 ICR 143 Rebuilt in 1896.
32 4-4-0 17 X 24 60 1883 ICR 144 Scrapped about 1910.
17 X 24 60 1883 ICR 145 Scrapped about 1910.
17 X 24 60? 1884? Albert Ry. Co. (S&H) 2 No data.
35 4-4-0
17 X 24 60 1884 Albert Ry. Co. (S&H) 3 Repaired at ICR shops in Moncton for $959 in 1909. Scrapped
in 1920.
17 X 24 60 1885? Canada Eastern Ry. 17 ICR 330. CGR 1121.
17 X 24 60 JUN 1885 ICR 30 CGR 1071-
17 X 24 60 1885? Elgin Petitcodiac & Havelock No data.
Ry. 2
18 X 24 54 1886? ICR 170 Wrecked in boiler explosion in 1887.
2-6-0 18 X 24 54 1886? ICR
171 Sold to Record Foundry, Moncton in j 892.
41 2-6-0 18 X24 54 1886? ICR 172 Sold to G.B. Willett for Nova Scotia Steel Co. (No.5) in 1899.
42 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 1886? ICR 173 Wrecked in boiler explosion in September 1892.
43 4-4-0
17 X24? 60? OCT 1887 Joggins Ry. Co. 1 Scrapped in j 922.
44 4-4-0
17 X 24? 60? OCT 1887 Central Ry. (N.B.) 1 No data.
17 X 24 60 1887 Moncton & Buctouche Ry. 2 Scrapped in 1918.
18 X24 54 APR 1888 Cumberland Ry. & Coal Co. 7 Scrapped in j 913.
2-6-0 18 X 24 54 JUN 1888 Cumberland Ry. & Coal Co. 8 Scrapped in 1918.
48 4-4-0
17 X 24 60 1888 NB&PE Ry 3 NB&PEI3. ICR 1176 in 1914. CGR 1176 in 1916. Scrapped
in 1917.
49 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 1888 Joggins Ry. Co. 4 (?) Rebuilt as 0-6-0.
50 2-6-0
18 X 24 54 1888 Joggins Ry. Co. No data.
? ? 1888? Central Ry. (N.B.) No data.
Sequence numbers are for convenience, and are not official works numbers. Explanation of abbreviations:
= European and North American Railway. N.B.Ry.
= New Brunswick Railway.
= Intercolonial Railway. CPR
= Canadian Pacific Railway.
= Canadian Government Railways. S&H
= Salisbury and Harvey Railway.
CNR = Canadian National Railways. NB&PE Ry.
= New Brunswick and Prince Edward Railway.
= St Stephen Branch Railway. NB&PEI
= New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Railway,
a name change
of the NB&PE Railway.
(NOVA SCOTIA) 7 1837
ST. JOHN 1847
OLIVE 1865
FAWN 1884
HERO 1889
r.C.R. DREDGE 1889
SENLAC c.1903
Early Bay of Fundy steamer, owned jointly by the Annapolis Steamboat Co.
E. Barlow and Sons. The Barlow connection might have got the engine
and boiler work for the Phoenix Foundry.
30 H.P., low pressure, owned by Mayor, Aldelmen and others.
Identical specifications to
Lady Colebrook, sister ferry vessel. The
presumption is that the Phoenix Foundry built the engine
of this one too.
216 H.P., cylinders 44 inches by
10 foot stroke.
No dat
No data.
250 H.P., hull
by Hatheway and Small.
Cylinders 42 inches by
11 foot stroke, boiler pressure 35 psi, hull built by
Ol.ive for Enoch Lunt.
150 H.P., cylinders 36 inches by 7 foot 8 inch stroke.
New boiler. Tug.
New boiler.
New boiler. Ferry.
New boiler. Tug.
Two 18 inch cylinders. High pressure engine. Tug.
Rebuilt from railway crane.
15 ton boiler at 100 psi.
Rebuilt simple
to compound engine, 400 H.P., old cylinders 20 inches, and
new 3 ton 38 inch cylinders by
22 inch stroke.
Engines and m
Machinery and 2 large boilers.
eel Hull, boilers and engines. Saint John city ferry.
The Railways and Canadas Greatest Disaster
The Halifax Explosion. Dece.mber
6, 1917
75th Anniversary
By Douglas N.W. Smith
The First World War created an upheaval in the political
and social orders which continues to be felt to the present. For most
Canadians, the physical devastation
of the war was a far-off event
occurring in the dismal trenches in Flanders. Seventy five years
ago, however, the carnage
of war was experienced by the residents
of the City of Halifax when a major portion of their city was blown
off the map.
Canadas eastern most major port, Halifax played a
major role in the war effort. As the St Lawrence
River ports of
Montreal and Quebec were closed to navigation for more than five
months each year, all the food, armaments and troops had to
tluough the remaining two open ports -Saint John and Halifax. By
of its position far out in the North Atlantic, Halifax had long
been a base for the navy. As well, the Bedford Basin provided a
large staging area for convoys. These two factors made Halifax
Canadas pre-eminent wartime port.
This was reflected by the increased loads
of freight carried
by the Intercolonial Railway (lCR), the oldest constituent
of the
Canadian Government Railways. A comparision
of the twelve
months ending March 31, 1918
to a similar period ending June 30,
1914, shows freight ton miles generated by the
ICR almost up 54
per cent and passenger miles up 44 per cent. As
shown in the
following table, the other major Canadian railways, the Grand
Trunk and Canadian Pacific experienced much smaller increases
in freight traffic. Passenger traffic on these two railways.actually
declined as restrictions were placed on civilian travel to conserve
coal supplies. This surge
in traffic placed a tremendous burden on the
ICR which had only a
single track line from Montreal to Halifax.
Prior to the outbreak of the war, the Dominion Minister of
Railways and Canals had announced a program to improve the
shipping facilities in Halifax. In 1854, the Nova Scotia Railway,
the predecessor
of the ICR, located its Halifax terminus at Richmond
lying at the northern end
of the isthmus upon which Halifax is
situated. Over the years, growth in traffic required the expansion
of the rail yards and wharfage. The Richmond facility, however,
was hemmed
in by the naval yards lying to the south of it. After
several decades
of improvised, imperfect solutions, the government
announced in October 1912 that it would build extensive new port
facilities, rail yards, and a station
in the southern part of the
waterfront near Point
Pleasant Park. The outbreak of the war
caused delays in construction as men, materials and money were
to the war effort.
er 6.,)917 dilwned as a (;lear col.d winter day. After
breakfast, fathers went
off to work, children to school and mothers
started their
days household tasks. In the Richmond rail yard,
switchers sorted cars
of vital war supplies. At North Street Station
and express was being unloaded from the baggage car on
ICR Train 314, the morning local from Truro.
All were unaware
of a drama unfolding in the harbour
which would destroy the pattern
of daily life, and in many cases life
At 0845, the outward bound freighter Imo, carrying relief
supplies for Belgian war refugees, collided with the freighter
Freight Ton Miles (in millions) Passenger Miles (in millions)
Railway 1914 1918 Change 1914 1918 Change
1,345 2,070 54% 200.2 287.9 44%
CPR **
10,601 14,918 41% 1,570.8 1,438.4 -8%
3,838 4,214 10% 647.0 585.6 -9%
* The data for both years exclude traffic handled over the National Transcontinental, the International Railway of New
Brunswick, the Saint John and Quebec and the Prince
Edward Island Railways. The figures for 1914 are for the fiscal year ending
June 30th, while those for 1918 cover the fiscal year ending March 30th.
** The data for 1914 and 1918 are for the fiscal years ending June 30th.
Map of Halifax showing the railways as they were in 1917. The site of the explosion is marked by a large XU.
Mont Blanc which was heading for the Bedford Basin. The cargo
loaded on the
Mont Blanc made it a veritable floating explosive
factory. On board were
over 2,000 tons of high explosives, a
volatile mixture
of picric acid, TNT, and benzine.
The collision occurred in The Narrows at the north end of
the City of Halifax. The Mont Blanc caught fire and drifted
towards Richmond. Seeing the red flag flying on her mast, ICR
train dispatcher Vincent Coleman sen! out
the first news of the
impending diaster. He called the station
at Truro and announced,
Munition ship on fire, making for Pier C. Good bye.
Shortly thereafter, at 0906, the
Mont Blanc blew up in
the largest man-made explosion up until the nuclear era.
The force
of the explosion levelled almost two square miles of the city killing
over 1,600 people. Thousands more were injured as windows
exploded into thousands
of shards of flying glass and buildings
crumpled. Fires from overturned coal fired stoves threatened
much of the remainder of the city.
The small hill in the centre of the city, familiarly known as
the Citadel, deflected the force of the blast upwards and thereby
spared the southern part
of the city from the devastation which
swept the northern section.
Since all
the ICR facilities in Halifax were located in the
of the city devastated by the explosion, the railway was
temporarily paralyzed. A repOli prepared for the Dominion Minister
of Railways and Canals stated that 55 ICR employees had been killed
in the explosion including six men working on the switch
12 men in the running trades, 5 trackmen, and 26 from
general office staff, station personnel and police officers.
The description of the physical destruction wrought upon
the ICR facilities is numbing:
At Richmond: Piers No.
6and 8 were completely destroyed,
even their piles were blown awa
y. The east end of Pier No.9 was
blown away and the freight shed upon it was destroyed, and the
crib walls
of Pier No.7 were badly damaged.
The Richmond station, carpenter shop, cal·mens, customs,
stevedores and other small building including the cattleshed and
tock pens were completely destroyed. The roof of the water tank
was blown
off and holes were pierced through the tank walls by
flying iron.
Two railway houses were completely destroyed.
At Willow Park:
The roof of the roundhouse was damaged
and the greater part
of it collapsed. The power plant was put out of
commission. The doors and windows in the car shop, stores
building, planing mill, oil house and roundhouse were blown out.
The roof of the water tank was blown in, allowing debris to enter
the pipes, thereby stopping the flow
of water. A railway house was
completed destroyed.
At North Street:
The North Street passenger station
sustained very heavy damage.
The front and back thirds of the train
shed roof were blown
up by the blast of the explosion, and then they
collapsed and fell
down inside the brick walls. Thirteen of the roof
These six photos are reproduced from the Canadian Railway and Marine World for February, 1918. The upper two views show the exterior
of the North Street station a few weeks after the explosion, after traffic had been resumed. The middle two photos show the interior of the
train shed, while the bo//om two show
the damage to the 1CRs Willow Park roundhouse.
This panoramic photo, and those on the next va pages, give a relatively good idea of the immense devastation caused by the explosion.
III order to comprehend the magnitude of the destructioll, one must remember that the area depicted in the photo at the top of pages 206
207 was a buill-UP residential area before the explosion. Note the trees blown over by the force of Ihe blaSI.
Alllhree pholOsfrom National Archives of Canada. These fl.vo pages PholO C-19945, Ilexllwo pages C-J9950 (lOp) and C-6969 (bollom).
trusses in the centre of the shed, with the roof boarding, framing
and sash on them remained standing, but were later pulled down
for safety.
The head house of the station, which was a solid brick
structure, sustained heavy damage. On the first floor, all the doors,
windows and fixtures were blown off. On the second floor, all
doors and windows were blown off, and the plaster partitions were
bulged and broken.
The damage to the third floor was similar to
that on the second. A portion
of the roof was heavily damaged and
subsequently collapsed in the heavy storm
of December 9th.
The roof of the power house and heating plant was blown
in and the plant itself seriously damaged. The loss of heat lead to
all the pipes in the vicinity, not destroyed by the explosion, to
freeze and burst.
The roof of the Dominion Atlantic Railway freight shed
blown in and the remaining portion was seriously damaged.
The windows, doors, walls and roof of the three car­
cleaning buildings and the mail and express building were badly
The four railway houses had windows, doors
and roofs badly damaged. A small brick building housing an
electrical regulator was badly damaged and its roof torn off.
At Rockingham and Bedford:
The stations had windows
blown out, doors damaged and
chimneys shaken.
At Tufts Cover:
The shelter was completely destroyed.
At Dartmouth:
The roof and one end were blown from the
enginehouse and the building was badly shattered.
The freight
shed had windows and doors blown out and its walls badly
The station had windows and doors damaged, the roof
lifted out
of place, its centre partition pulled from the outside walls
and the chimney blown down.
At Deepwater Terminals [this was mid way down the
south of Richmond]: A large hole was blown
through the grain elevator, its roof was lifted off the structure and
fell back in a different position, and portions
of the walls were torn
Damage to the railway piers in this area was not as
extensive as
atRichmond. The freight shed on Pier No.4 collapsed,
that on
Pier No.3 had its windows and doors blown in and the roof
on the north side broken, while that on the new concrete
Pier No.2 had its doors and windows blown in and the partition on
the second floor collapsed.
The inward and outward freight shed, a brick structure,
was not greatly damaged, except for a short section
of roof next to
the office portion which opened up for a l
ength of 60 feel. The glass
in all the windows was blown in.
Roadbed and Track: The Riclunond Yard was heavily
damaged and covered in debris. Rails in many places were bent
like hoops. A
great wave, which followed the explosion, covered
the railway tracks with debris, mud and boulders to a considerable
The railway estimated that 105 tons of track material was
either lost or damaged in the explosion.
The double track main line between Willow Park Junction
and North
Street Station, a 7,000 foot distance, escaped damage
but was blocked by debris. The automatic signals between these
points were badly wrecked.
The telephone dispatching line between
Street Station a
nd Rockingham was put out of commission.
On the Dartmouth side, betw
een Stairs and Black Rock
siding, the
sea wall was washed away in several places and 200 feet
of track at Black Rock was undermined to a depth of about two feet.
When the trainshed over the tracks at the North Street
Station collapsed, it landed on the
Truro local which had arrived
at 0845. Fortunately, the
DAR local from Kentville was late that
Had it arrived as scheduled at 0900, its passengers and
crew would have swelled the list of fatalities and injured.
As fate would have it, the chief officers
of the two railways
serving Halifax were in their business cars at the station when the
explosion occurred.
The General Superintendent of the ICR, Mr J.
T. Hallisey was severely cut about the head. General Manager
Graham of the Dominion Atlantic Railway (DAR) was having
breakfast with this wife and daughter at the time
of the explosion.
The Graham family escaped injury. Mr Graham walked and ran the
4.1 miles to Rockingham, which was the nearest functioning
station. He sent a telegram
to the
DAR headquarters
in Kentville ordering a
relief train to be sent to
Halifax bringing all
available doctors, nurses
and Red Cross supplies
from Kentville, Wolfville
and Windsor.
This DAR train
was the first relief train to
reach the beleagured city.
It left Kentville at 1145
and arrived
in Halifax at
The ICR was the
conduit by which
aid reached the city. On
December 6th, six relief
trains operated
over the
rCR bringing medical and
additional fire-fighters and
fire fighting equipment
the city to assist in putting
out the fires which
threatened to spread to
those parts
of the city not
flattened by the explosion.
Special trains arrived from
New Glasgow, from
Amherst and from
This photo, and those on the next three pages, were taken by Donald F. Angus who was a survivor of the
explosion. Mr. Angus (the father
of your editor) was stationed with the Canadian army in HaLifax at the time,
alld was one
of the many troops who assisted in the rescue of victims of the disaster. The above view, taken
a few days later, shows a pile
of wreckage, as welL as three freight cars, the one in the foreground being a
flat car. In the background can be seen the Narrows and, beyond that, the Dartmouth shore.
Photo by D.F. Angus.
Boston was one of the first major cities to respond to the
appeal for aid. At 2200 on the evening
of the 6th, a relief train
13 doctors, 10 nurses, Red Cross officials and medical
supplies left the capital
of Massachusetts. After leaving McAdam,
New Brunswick the vacant places on the train were filled by New
Brunswickmedical practitioners desiring to volunteer their services.
Leaving Saint John, the train ran into the blizzard. A second engine
was added to the train
at Moncton, but huge snow drifts near
Folleigh Mountain stalled the train. It was not until 0300 on the
of the 8th that the train arrived at Rockingham. Shortly
after 0600, snow plows cleared the line
to the Ocean Terminals.
The first relief train from outside of the Maritime region arrived
in the city
at 0700. A partial Jist of the special trains which operated
over the ICR bringing aid to the city
in the first five days after the
is shown in Appendix l.
While the railways played a crucial role in forwarding
much needed supplies and emergency personnel to the city. they
also helped to carry the injured
to nearby communities for medical
attention and convalescence.
The first such train almost was a fatality of the explosion.
Train No.
to, operating on an overnight schedule between Saint
New Brunswick and Halifax, happened to be a few minutes
late on the morning
of December 6th. Had it arrived at North Street
Station on time at 0855, its passengers would have been
in the
station when the blast occurred. Theexplosion rocked the train as it approached Rockingham
station. The cars were buffeted by the concussion which blew
all the glass in the windows. Fortunately there were no injuries to
those on the train.
The engineer, though badly injured by being
tmown against the boiler, managed to bring his train safely
to a
stop. The train proceeded slowly up the track as far as the junction
to Willow Park engine terminal. There its progress was blocked by
debris covering the track.
Being one
of the few intact structures in the area, the train
was rapidly invaded by cold and injured survivors of the explosion,
of whom were seriously injured. The train became an
impromptu hospital. With the passenger cars rapidly filling,
J. C. Gillespie had the baggage and postal car emptied
of their contents to increase the space for these refugees. Lacking
skilled medical practioners, the train crew and passengers rendered
such emergency medical aid
as they could. Many of the men, who
realized that fires threatened the lives
of people who were trapped
in the collapsed buildings near the tracks, spent several hours
saving those they could reach.
With his train loaded with 210 injured people, Conductor
Gillespie made arrangements to have
it run back to Truro. There
the injured were accommodated
in three temporary hospitals
which were hastily set up in the Fire Hall, the Academy and Court
House to receive
them. In the following days, the railways were
called upon
to operate several hospital trains taking the many of the
injured to outlying towns due to the shortage
of space in Halifax.
Upon learning of
the explosion, the General
Manager of the ICR,
Charles A. Hayes had his
car attached to the first
of the four special trains
run to Halifax. These
carried medical supplies,
doctors, nurses, and work
gangs and equipment to
restore the railway and
its facilities. As more
than three miles of
trackage were blocked by
damaged locomotives,
cars and shattered
buildings, the incoming
relief trains ran into the
partially completed Ocean
Terminals complex at the
south end of the city.
Damage to these facilities
been very minor
consisting primarily of
damage to windows and
doors in sheds 23 and 24
and in the term i naJs
An automobile that came to grief, being turned completely over. Note the scene oj complete des/ruction in the
Photo by D.F. Angus.
An organization called the Canadian GovernmentRailways,
Halifax Restoration, was formed to carry out the work of
reconstruction. This organization was charged with the repair and
of all damaged tracks, buildings and other property
belonging to the railway in halifax, Richmond, Fairview, Dartmouth.
At the
requestofthe Department of Naval Service, it also undertook
the reconstruction
of the naval dockyard.
Even while aid was rushing to the city, the rai Iway
at Halifax were struggling to re-establish rail links to accommodate
the relief trains. Fortunately, the railway installations at the Ocean
Terminals were sufficiently complete to permit their use. Indeed,
the day following the explosion the first regular trains departed
Halifax for Montreal from the Ocean Terminals. Without the
of these facilities, it would have been much more
difficult to bring emergency supplies and staff speedily to the city.
The clearing of the double track between Richmond and
Street Station was the first major task undertaken. Auxiliary
cranes cleared one track by noon on December 8th and opened the
second track the following day.
The standing portion of the train
roof was taken down on the evening of December 8th due to
fears concerning its
strength. Railway telegraphic communication
to North Street Station was restored by the night
of December 8th.
That evening at 1800 the DAR Kentville local became the first
train to leave North Street Station since the explosion.
Following the restoration
of the telephone dispatching line
between North Street Station and Rockingham on Dece
mber 9th,
the first trains were run into North Street Station. On
10th, the full schedule of trains began to operate once more from
this facility. It was decided that the old wharves and sheds at Richmond
not be reconstructed, but that new sheds and wharves would
be provided at the new docks under construction at the Halifax
Ocean Terminals. New sheds Nos. 25 and 28 were built on Pier
Shed No. 25 was 594 feet long by 90 feet wide, while Shed No. 28
was 550 feet long by 90 feet wide.
In a letter to the Minister
of Railways and Canals dated
January 7, 1918,
C. A. Hays outlined the effects of the explosion
on the ICR employees. A total of 55 cmrent employees had
been killed as well as ten retired ICR employees.
The homes of 600
employees had been damaged. While 4
18 of the homes could be
repaired quickly, 192 had been either heavily damaged
or destroyed.
In addition to the physical damage to homes, many employees had
either been injured
or had been traumatised by the death or injury
of family members.
In an effort
to help ease the housing crisis, the ICR parked
a number
of boarding and other cars at the Willow Park facilities.
These were placed at the disposal of those employees who had lost
their homes. W.
C. Roberts repOIted to the Deputy Minister of the
of Rail ways and Canals on January 5, 1918 that only
very few families had consented to occupy them. He stated most
of the employees, who it is assumed stayed with relatives, resided
in temporary shelters or camped out in the remains
of their homes,
preferred to wait until
temporary housing was ready on the
Exhibition Grounds.
The report outlined the state of the five
families who moved into the cars
at Willow Park. It illustrates the
impact which the explosion had
on those who lived in the north end
of Halifax:
William Bison, employed as a
Car Clerk, was married and had six
children. His wife and two children were injured.
F. McPhee, employed as a
Carpenter, was married and
had two children. All were
N. Currie, a Machinist, was
married and had two
children. No injuries.
Frank Myer, a car Cleaner,
single. Living with mother
and father
in an auxiliary
car. All injured.
G. Isner, an employee
working in the fuel
department, single and not
These families
remained in what was called
Box Car Hotel until
early March when new
temporary housing was
A report from the
Master Car Builder to
General Manager Hayes,
dated December 17, 1917,
The ruins oj the Dominion Textile Companys cotlon mill. The entire interior of the building collapsed,
and many workers lost their lives.
Photo by D.F. Angus.
states that almost 500 pieces
of equipment were either damaged or destroyed in the explosion.
Freight cars accounted for 374 of the rolling stock. This included
ICR cars, 96 Canadian Pacific cars, 43 Grand Trunk cars, 10
New York Central Cars, and 82 from other railways. Four cars
could not be accounted for as they had been blown into the harbour
and no records could be found. Thirty seven
of the freight cars were
completely destroyed leaving only their trucks
to be salvaged. A
further thirty eight freight cars had their tops destroyed,
but they
were fit to be converted to flat or pulpwood cars.
The remaining
299 freight cars could be repaired.
The total bill to settle with the
foreign line
car owners and to repair the ICR freight cars was
to exceed $102,000. While this sum may seem small, it
should be remembered that in 1917 a new box car cost approximately
The explosion side-tracked over sixteen per cent of the
ICRs total passenger car
f1eel. These cars consisted of 18 sleepers,
2 sleeper-observation cars, 6 diners,
14 tourist cars, 18 colonist
cars, 7 military hospital cars, 4 commissary cars for military
movements, 1 parlour car, 3 coaches, 2 combination cars,
baggage cars, 3 postal cars, 1 official car, and 1 air brake
instruction car. Based on the ICR roster at March 31, 1918, it
appears that 34 per cent
of the sleeping cars, 25 per cent of the
colonist cars,
19 per cent of the dining cars and 70 per cent of the
hospital cars were damaged in the explosion.
The restoration of the 113 ICR cars was being rushed as
were essential to enable the ICR to continue the heavy
of troops to the coast and of wounded combatants to
military hospitals
in Central and Western Canada. It was expected
that it would take six weeks
to return all the passenger cars to
At the time of the Master Car Builders report the Moncton
Shops were working on
51 passenger cars and expected to receive
six more from Halifax.
Twenty three passenger cars were undergoing
repair at Halifax. A further
17 had been sent to the Canadian Car
& Foundry Company plant at Amherst, Nova Scotia for repairs.
of the damaged cars belonged to foreign roads. The ICR
returned one first class coach and three baggage cars to the Grand
Trunk, three baggage cars to Canadian Pacific and 2 baggage cars
to the Boston
& Maine for repairs. The total estimated cost of the
repairs to the
ICR passenger cars was expected to total $75,000.
Surplisingly, no locomotives were destroyed by theexplosion.
The avail-able reports show that only five locomotives were
damaged in the explosion and all were returned to service.
Less than a month after the explosion, tremendous progress
had been made
to repair the damaged railway facilities. In a
telegram dated January 3, 1918, W. A. Duff, Assistant
Engineer of the ICR, reported to the Minister of Railways and
Canals as follows:
Sheds on Pier
A: Excavation for foundation nearly finished,
grillage being put
in place, and expect to start framing of sheds
within a day or two. Track work about fifty
per cent completed.
Bottom story will be closed in tomorrow night and repairs
to piping
will take at least two weeks.
Pier Two: Bottom storey will be closed
in tomorrow night and
to piping will yet take at least two weeks. The pier is in good
shape to handle
Pier Three: About ten
per ceIll repaired.
Pier Four: Practically cleared up and will now start repairs.
Elevator: In working
condition and all housed
in Balance; of repairs being
continued but will not
interfere with operations.
North Street Station:
Repairs to building about
eighty per cent
and canopy overconcourse
will be finished this week.
Boiler House: Repairs
roof finished.
Clearing of
tracks and wreckage is
proceeding satisfactorily.
About forty
per cent of
tracks are cleared.
Park: Eighteen
stalls of engine house now
in service and repairs are
being done to
power house,
car shop, planing mill,
stores tank, and oil house.
Temporary repairs to these
buildings are fifty per cent
complete and permanent
One of the many blocks of temporary structures hastily erected to shelter those made homeless by the
explosion. Some
of these buildings survived for years.
Photo by D.P. Angus.
repairs are underway. Bunk house finished so that 150 men can
sleep and 200 can be fed.
Dartmouth: Station and freight shed complete and repairs fifty
cent complete to houses of employees living in Dartmouth.
By the middle
of January, significant progress had been
made in the restoration efforts. A status report printed in the
February 1918 issue
of Canadian Railway and Marine World is
reproduced in Appendix
The reconstruction of the railway and naval dockyard
required large amounts
of manpower. The number of men employed
457 in December 1917, 1,418 in January 1918, 1,097 in
February and
605 in March. At the end of March, it was reported
that the restoration
of the rai I way was 100 per cent completed
while the naval yard about 95
per cent restored.
In closing this account
of this sad day, the final words are
from the February 1918 issue
of the Canadian Governent Railways
Employess Magazine. In reading this text, it should be remembered
that few people
knew the cause of the explosion which shook the
city, and those
not in the North End would not have immediately
known of the devastation. The writer, perhaps to distance himself
from the tragic events of the day, uses the impersonal tense in his
article. His sentiments, expressed
in the final paragraph, are as true
for us today as they were seventy-five years ago.
The writer was at the office atlhe time [of the e.xplosion]
and, thinking that the only damage would be broken windows, was
in no hurry
to get home. He thoughl, his family being late sleepers,
would be in bed at that time and no glass would hurt them. Imagine
his horror,
when reaching his home, he found his three-storey
house flal
011 the ground, his sister and brolher-in-law, wife and
nephew, dragged from the ruins, his mother dead
ill the kitchen, and his two little sisters./rom school, streaming wilh blood. But he
was one
of the lucky ones; for many went home to find nOlhing bUI
ashes. No trace of home or relatives …
disaster has now been shoved into the background
as far as the daily news is concerned but for those, who like myself,
witnessed the terrible sights on the sOeets, in the hospitals and
morgues, and in the cemeteries, where the dead were heaped up for
of help to bury them, it will always remain a thing of horror;
and yet something
to wonder when we think of the courage and
of those who lost all.
Bird, M.
J., The Town That Died, Souvenir Press, London, 1962.
Canadian Government Railways Employees Magazine, Issues
February and March 1918
Canadian Railway and Marine
World, Issues of January and
19 I 8
Metson, Graham,
The Halifax Explosion December 6, 19 17,
McGraw Hill Ryerson Limited, Toronto, 1978.
A. c., Report of the Halifax Relief Expedition
December 6 to 15, 1917, State Printers, Boston, 1918.
of the Depattment of Railways and Canals, National
of Canada, Ottawa
Between December 6th and 11 th, the CGR operated 20 special trains 10 rush medical assistance and food and
building supplies to the devastated city. Many of these trains originated from the Northeastern United States, a region
populated by many ex-patriot Canadians who remembered their roots during this time of crisis.
The list of special trains, their donors and contents during the six days after the explosion was a follows:
6: From College Bridge, New Brunswick a ten car special train bringing the Amherst fire brigade, 1 car of food
supplies and 8 railway boarding cars to provide accommodation for workmen
to rebuild demolished railway facilities.
6: From Moncton, New Brunswick an eight car train comprised of 1 baggage car, 1 hospital commissary car, 2
hospital tourist cars, 1 first class coach, 2 standard sleepers and General Manager Charles Hayes business car carrying
railway officials, doctors, nurses and hospital supplies.
6: From Moncton a nine car train including a wrecking crane and outfit, 3 hospital and 1 colonist car. This train
brought the Moncton fire brigade to Halifax.
6: From Moncton a thirteen cartrain comprised of 3 box cars of food supplies from Moncton, 1 carof food supplies
from Sackville, 7 first class coaches, 1 sleeper and 1 official car bringing doctors and nurses.
December6: From Moncton a 24 cartrain including
asteam shovel, a small crane, 1 carof track spikes, 1 car stores, lanterns,
etc., and other cars of food supplies. With this train were three gangs of workmen consisting of 3 foremen and 15 men.
December 6: From Sydney and New Glasgow a five car train bringing the General Superintendent, doctors and nurses.
December 7: From Piclou a
fourcartrain carrying Prime Minister Borden and a party of doctors and nurses from Charlottetown.
In connection with the Prime Ministers special, a special trip of the S.S. Aranmore was made from Charlottetown to Pictou .
. December 7: From Boston a five car train of Massachusetts State Relief comprised of 2 baggage cars, 1 diner, 2 sleepers
bringing 13 doctors, 10 nurses and hospital supplies.
8: From Boston a 13 cartrain of Massachusetts and Maine Relief comprised of 6 baggage cars, 1 first class coach
and 6 sleepers. From Maine came 13 doctors, 4 nurses; 2 orderlies,
6Maine Government Staff, 7,100 blankets and 750 cots.
This train also carried hospital supplies, cots and blankets
to accommodate 500.
8: From New York a five car train of City of New York Relief. This train carried 1 doctor representing the medial
department of the U.S. Government, 1 nurse representing the civilian relief a
rm of the U,S. Red Cross, 1 representative of the
Quartermaster Store Department of the U.
S. Government and 6 newspaper reporters. The train brought 10,000 blankets,
10,000 sweaters, 7,000 pairs of socks, 100 sets of civilian clothing for men, women and children, 40 cases of surgical
bandages, 100 gallons of liquid disinfectant, 10 bales of absorbent cotton, and 1 carload of food.
9: From Montreal a 14 car train of Montreal and Saint John relief bringing food supplies and coffins.
December 9: From Providence an 8 car train carrying Rhode Island Relief comprised of 1 baggage car with condensed milk
and a doctors outfit, 1 baggage car with bread, window sashes, window glass and clothing, 1 diner, 5 sleepers. This train
brought 50 doctors, 50 nurses, 1 chauffeur, 1 druggist, 3 secretaries, and 2 social workers.
9: From Bangor, Maine a 6 car train comprised of 2 baggage cars, 2 first class coaches and 2 sleepers carrying
35 doctors and nurses, clothing, blankets and other supplies.
December 10: From Montreal a 9 car train bringing Montreal relief comprising 4 cars window glass, 2 cars beaver board, 2
cars roofing material and 1 car
of lumber.
December 10: From Montreal an
11 car train of food supplies.
December 10: From Montreal a 24 car train of food supplies.
December 10: From Montreal a 5 car train including 3 cars of clothing and provisions, 2 private cars with doctors, nurses and
officials of the
T. Eaton Company of Toronto. Sir John Eaton was on this train.
December 10: From Toronto an
11 car train bringing Toronto Relief. Train comprised of 1 car building supplies, 3 baggage
cars, 6 colonist cars, and 1 sleeper. This train carried carpenters, plumbers and machinists with tools as well as 8 military
officers and 337 men.
December 10: From Ottawa a 20 car train bringing cars, trucks and other supplies.
December 11: From Ottawa a 25 car train bringing food, medical and building supplies.
The restoration work at Halifax is being carried on under the general direction of C. B. Brown, Assistant General Manager and Chief
CGR at Moncton, W. A. Duff, AssistantChief Engineer and Engineerof Bridges, being in direct charge at Halifax, with office at 137
Barrington Street, C. H. Edgett, being Purchasing Agent and
F. M. Maclennan, Auditor. Mr Duff was at Halifaxwhen the explosion occurred
and acted
most promptly. Telegraph connection being destroyed, he motored to the nearest station from which he could telegraph, and made
a most graphic and
correct report of the extent of the damage to General Manager Hayes at Moncton, detailing relief, etc., required and
prompt action to be taken to rush special trains with doctors, nurses, supplies, etc … [The following summarizes] the reconstruction
work done up to January 18th:
At North Street station
temporary repairs have been carried on both inside and outside of building. The stairs leading to the station
have been repaired
and are in service. The linen room and express offices have been made water tight. An awning for the concourse has
been erected, and will be covered with rubberoid as soon as work in front of the building is completed. The North Street power house roof
has been
completed, and a boiler put in place and bricked in.
New Pier 2: The repairs are about 85% complete. All doors upstairs are in place and glazed. All doors on the south side downstairs
are in place and being glazed. Sixteen pairsof doors are in place on the north side. Practically all the branch return pipes have been installed,
and work
is still proceeding. All mains, returns, connections and traps will be installed as soon as received. Doors forthe north side are being
straightened and repaired.
The pier and shed have been in service since December 26th.
Pier 3:
Seventeen trusses on the north side have been repaired and repairs were made to side of shed, where necessary. About
200 feet of track for doors on the north side have been removed, straightened, and replaced. The work is about 75% complete.
Pier 4:
The wreckage from roof and sides of shed has been cleared away. The floor of the annex has been taken up, so that piles
can be driven.
Stringers and a plank on the north side of pier are being finished so that track can be used. The shed is being rebuilt and is
about 25% complete.
Pier 9,
Richmond: The debris has been cleared away and also the debris on tracks leading to the pier and the pier is now in shape
to be used as an open pier.
deepwater local freight shed has been repaired.
Grain Elevators:
Temporary repairs are finished. The elevator has been boarded in on the north side and covered with rubberoid
finished, and repairs are
now being made to the roof on the east side of the building. It has been in use since December 24th and the
permanent repairs are about
60% completed. The boiler house building is completed and the boiler put in place and bricked in. The carpenter
shop building is boarded in and roof covered with rubberoid, and work is proceeding on the interior of the building.
At Richmond the debris has been cleared away from about 85% of the tracks in the yard and they are being put into service as fast
as repairs
can be made to them. The water tank at Richmond has been temporarily repaired and has been in service since December 9th.
All Hudson Bay
timber has been loaded and shipped to the south terminals. [This timber was awaiting shipment to northern Manitoba.] Pier
9 and three tracks in
connection with it have been cleared, and can be used at any time for handling deals, or any other cargo which does
not require shed space. The water tank has been temporarily repaired and is giving good service. The sugar refinery site is being cleared.
At Willow Park temporary repairs have been made to 18 stalls in the locomotive house and temporary repairs are being made to 6
additional stalls.
The dangerous portions of the roof of sections 5 and 6 have been removed. Section 4 is being repaired. The I beams
and columns of this sections are straightened, and joists and sheathing are being put in place. Windows are being obtained by salvaging
from machine shops
and from sections 5 and 6 of the locomotive house. The work is about 75%completed. At the bunk house, the carpenter
work is completed, and the plumbing work is about 75% completed. Sashes are being placed in the office building. Temporary repairs to the
stores building are
complete and the permanent repairs are now finished. Two bad leaks were discovered in the mains and were repaired
and a better supply obtained at the stand pipe.
At the
ocean terminals two freight sheds, 600 by 90 feet each, are being constructed to take the place of sheds which were destroyed
by the explosion. They are known as sheds 25 and 28. Grading for tracks near the sheds is finished. Grading for the roadway between the
sheds is finished. Pile driving for shed 28 is completed. Twenty-five
per cent of the floor decking has been placed on the north half of shed
28; 90% of floor grillage has been completed on the south half of shed 28, with the exception of platform grillage which has not been started
75%of floor girders have been placed on the south half of shed 28; all the columns for shed 28 have been cut to length, and 50% of the
brace blocks have been nailed in place and 25% bored for lag screws. Six bents for the north side of shed 28 have been laid out. Good
progress is being made and the framing of the superstructure will be well under way this week.
The repairs to the transmission line are over
60% complete.
telephone dispatching line between North Streetstationand Rockingham has been put back into service.
The CGRofficials are also attending to the repairing of the
Naval Service Department property ..
Source: Canadian Railway and Marine World, February 1918
5909s New Years Eve
A Roundhouse Fantasy
By Nicholas Morant
Twas New Years Eve in Revelstoke roundhouse. Contrasted
with an occasional grunt from a waterpump was the
hissing of
steam which billowed up amongst the mountain locomotives in the
cool air. As they settled down to their
evenings rest, wraithed in
ghostly mists, they looked for all the world like monsters from a
strange land.
The gnomelike figures of two hostlers, armed with
oil soaked waste for flares, who were peering here and there into
the innards
of the somnolent mammoths made the whole scene
increasingly mysterious.
For a roundhouse everything was quite peaceful. The two
hostlers had disappeared and it was only then that 5909, an
inveterate grouch for no good reason at all, started steaming away
to himself just as
if some careless apprentice had bruised him with
a five-foot pipe wrench.
Trouble with this railroad, 5909 was saying, is that a
fellas supposed to
do three mens work -it aint fair ….
Aw -whatcha beefin about anyway -thats what you
were built for,
wasnt it? This, if you please, from 560. Just
exactly when and from whence 560 had blown in nobody seemed
to know -or care, for that matter.
It was presumed by certain
haughtily inclined
5900s and the two rather subjugated snowplows,
who had no minds
of their own and were pretty easily led anyway,
that he had
come off the Okanagan line. What he was doing in
Revelstokeon New Years Eve of all times, nobody knew or, if one
may use the expression -gave a spit in the sandbox.
560 may
have been a stranger there that night but he was
an oldtimer and that
meant a great deal in the mountains. He went
right after 5909 like a bulldog,
Look you big sixteen wheeled,
booster equipped hog, you
… he was spluttering by now, some
steam had condensed somewhere in
his anatomy, but he continued
bravely on, why back in the old days when we had to handle the
passenger trains we didnt come back into the house
bellyachin, about our work and especially on New Years Eve
mister! We just, just -what is it you youngsters call it now … ?
Went to town, interposed an unidentified voice from the
far end
of the shed.
Alright fella, alright,
hissed 5909 uncomfortably, realizing
by now he had probably bitten
off more than he could chew with
that peppery little 560 in the fold,
mebbe Im a little tired or
sumpin -you oldtimers preachin at me all the time but just the
same, as I wuz
sayin …
Hey you -yeh, you with the booster, pipe down, see? It
was a rough voice from the north side
of the shed and everyone
recognized old 580 I -a tough old
pusher if there ever was one.
Im on snowplow duty -see? I want peace and quiet, New Years
or not, so pipe down … or else somebody I know may get a poke
in the pilot, see?
5909s headlight burned up brightly, perhaps it
was a trick
of the steam or then again maybe it was the bright idea.
Say fellows Im going out tonight -Im gonna burn up somebodys
rails … yippee, boyoboy me for the bright lights, its New Years
Gloomy Gus, in the guise of 580 I, still feeling that his was
a black outlook with nothing but snowplow duty hanging over his
wrinkled dome, cut in sharply in an attempt to dampen the
suddenly acquired brightness
of 5909. Maybe, he said, theyll
need somebody to help with the plow -what then, eh?
5909 maintained his perkiness and suddenly assumed a
smart alec attitude which fairly stolmed the doughty 5801s
armour of animosity, Why you old wreck, he retorted, your
tubes are swellin -you may need help at that -okay, ducky maybe
we could
get 560 to help you up to Flat Crick with his mighty
driving wheels -haw haw!
Poor little 560 who was just about out of the picture for lack
of steam just sizzled ominously.
But 5909 went right on painting the highlights
of his
coming evening revelling with colours so bright that even Nellie
the Snowplow squirmed uncomfortably.
Boyoboy, he was saying
am I going to have fun -first of all Ill go …
Quiet someones coming, was the hissed warning from
a loco mati ve near the far door.
The two hostlers returned on the run. Said one -Better get
5909 fired up again –
hell hafta take the plow east with 580 I soons
we can get pressure.
Hey, what was that? said the other hostler.
What was what?
Sfunny, but I though I heard someone laughing, a guffaw
CP Staff Bulletin, January 1938.
The Railway and the War
By Thurstan Topham
A qreat aYlTIlj of mo.jrd~t1(
1c(> of Wi1..} wOtk~rs forms the
b~ckbon.(? of rOilllo.lJ ope)otiotl. Th~ir task isto keeptr~ck
end blidqes in proper condition -one of thrc vdOoI (ssEntitx/s
of ihe RD.dLl)ilIS biq lOo.y lob ll
t-_M:-~ __
Yl f;!
The HMdc~r
I~ tf1etr~c.k­
gas Ie 5S
ru.bner 1(>55
Page 215
jeep. Th.e
(N·R h~5 2-24?:> of tn(?rn
to c.ovQrthc. ,sLJstcm5
3.053 tr~ck seci ion!>.
TheSpern) Car 15ihd} de.tedive.lt5 ininclI.te mecho.nlsm.
spot5 hidden flows w-ticn sometimes
develop in hiqh YYodetrc;lck st(>cd. (N·R Oy,f.~lre
. mi.1n lin.est..l ich CMlyihcswift l!.nd , ~, rIO
he,wl) wMiYaffic ,~o.yd(?st(?d requl~rly 1tt1lnillan
hyifl.lsm~nJel of rnoci . Kln95ton .
~ The 6400 bridges of th.~
. N,tiono.l lailwlys~ysiem if
. joined would span i hC
U)a{~r (Jap oetwecon Hc3milton Onto
and Kinqston Ont.-167 Miles,
Many Canaciian RailwaJ
Shops now mMl1f~dlJt­
ing war munitions.
Thousands of Rai IWc).4
medlanics are eng3.ged
intnb t~sk. ,~ .
A Speed RtCord -ProductiOll WaS strled _ FIRST ~UN-
_ FI/75T soo-53 weeks aHer the first sod WaS tllY1eQ CO/TflrTEO,
-TIIIi/{CO-fodhe plan~ of Niiion~IRAilwAlj Mlinition~ JAN;J?-19/r2
~ ])a 26?!. NJtrO ut Monire4l.operated by the (l
I~~~ N~1ional Rai IWilJ:S. which is tumill / ~~~ naval, quns dnd field c.rt!l1eY4 qun.-
………. ~ -¥)~ carnages ………. ( II /~
/ ~. ~_~( ….. ,.)~~>~,~ War Mater~als
~ ~dl quarter of ih.e A-~J / ;i;~;<~ are
J ~ 111icknes5 ot a IJlq ob fortht Glilier rna e a ,R
humM flair. There 97.000 sq. f~et 01 qla5s in Ihe Shops 6.t
Splitting Hair5!, Ports ore wo.lls and roof of tnls plant Moncton,N.B.,
~ ch.ecked wiih. ~~ 5tratford,Ont.,
Some Pl
is of anelectriclIll,-~~: _~ Tran5COnli. and
N~)::I ~un ,-/7 _ conirolled super-_ -~~ . ~ Fort ~ouge
Breech~lo(ks / L ~ mlcromeier (J)hicn .~.. ~ , (Wtnntpeq), MM.,
i.,~ ~w .1J~J?:. mCaSurcsto ~ …. ?i … , If . a.nd
10 2; 1~,OOO -t ..~u–i/ ~ 1-100 OOotn f h. ~II I Prince Rupert,B.C.
of on In en-one V~~ I -0 an me .. ~yl
Rail Canada Decisions
By Douglas N.W. Smith
On June 20, 1992, the National Transportation Agency
refused an application by
Canadian National to abandon its
Midland Subdivision from
Uhthoff to Midland, a distance of 23
miles and related spur lines. Based upon representations from the
two largest shippers,
Ogilvie Mills and Unimin Canada, the
Agency determined that the line could become economic.
Ogilvie Mills grind grain received by ship into flour which is
moved by rail to Candiac, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax. Under
the terms
of the decision, CN will operate the line for another
eighteen months before the decision will be reassessed.
Thus Midland remains as the last Georgian Bay port to
further western grain products to eastern points. During the
nineteenth century,
the communities of Owen Sound, Collingwood,
eaford Depot Harbor and Midland vied for this trade. So
valuable was this trade that CP carved a new port and community
at Port McNicoll during the 1910s as it was dissatisfied with the
harbour at Owen Sound.
The origins
of the rail line serving Midland dates to the
beginning of the railway era in Ontario.
The Port Hope, Lindsay
and Beaverton Railway
(PHL&B) was incorporated by the Province
of Canada on December 18, 1854. The company completed 42
of line between Port Hope and Lindsay in 1857. The
following year it completed a 12 mile branch from Millbrook to
After this initial burst
of railway building, progress ground
to a halt. More than a decade would pass before the PHL&B
bestiITed itself. By this time, the company had decided its western
terminus would be on the shores
of Georgian Bay. There the
PHL&B expected to tap the growing Canadian lumber trade and to
capture a portion
of the grain trade moving between Chicago and
the Northeastern United States. In
recognition of its new terminal
point, the PHL&B changed its name to the Midland Railway in
1869. This name was the
same as the site of its terminus on
Georgian Bay.
The Midland entered into a contract with famed Canadian
railway engineer and contractor,
Walter Shanley to build the
Lindsay-Midland extension.
The 22.5 mile section between Lindsay
and Beaverton was opened to regular traffic in January 1871.
the end of the following year, trains had reached Orillia, 19.9 miles
of Beaverton. As the contract with Walter ShanJey called for
the line
to have been completed through to Midland by the end of
1872, the Board of Directors relieved Shanley of his contract in
February 1873. All work
on the Orillia-Midland section came to a
halt as a result
of the financial depression which started in 1873.
By 1874, the financial si
tuation had improved sufficiently
to permit
the line to be extended to Waubaushene, 19.8 miles from
Orillia. George A. Stewart, the
Midlands Chief Engineer, had
importuned the board to complete this extension. In his report
the President dated December 31, 1874 he wrote, During the
winter and spring
of the present year, the different contractors at
work on the line between Orillia and Waubaushene continued rheir labours, but the expectations expressed
in my last years report of
gelling the road through to Waubaushene during the Summer [of
1874] have not been realized, owing entirely to rhe financial
of the Company, which was not in a condition to meet the
of the outlay and purchase the rails for the p!lIpose of
finishing the line. The work had therefore to be discontinued.
The disappointment this has occasioned to the lumber
interests along the Georgian Bay to reach this outlet
for their
productions which is so desirable, was
very great, and I beg to urge
in view of the large outlay of capital already made every effort
should be brought forward to reach,
if not the terminus of the line
at Midland, at least the waters
of Georg ian Bay at Waubaushene …
The necessary outlay, independent of the requirement of
rails to finish the road between Orillia and Waubaushene, is not
very large,
and my statement fUll1ished to F. Morton, Esq., the
Engineer who came to examine the line will form a basis of the
expense to be incurred.
In a report dated May 1874, Morton had reported favourably
to the English bondholders, Messrs Uhthoff &
Company, upon the
Midland extension.
He calculated that a total investment of
$850,000 was needed to make the Midland a major grain route.
The rehabi I itation of the run-down Port Hope-Orill ia and Millbrook­
Peterborough lines with new
rail~, additional ballast, and improved
bridges to handle the heavy traffic expected after the line reached
Georgian Bay points was estimated
to cost $1 50,000. The extension
of the line from Orillia to Waubaushene was estimated to cost
$170,000 and from Waubaushene
to Midland $210,000. The costs
of providing necessary facilities at Midland, namely wharves,
freight sheds and a grain elevator, was estimated to be $120,000.
The cost of additional locomotives and cars to handle the increased
traffic once the line reached Midland was estimated
to be $200,000.
Morton forecasted that the receipts from the
along Georgian Bay, who would use the railway once it reached the
harbour at Waubaushene, would increase revenues by 75 per
or $291 ,000 per annum. The traffic at Midland was expected to add
$100,000 per year to the companys revenues.
The backers of the Midland were sufficiently impressed
with the prospects
of the Waubaushene extension that funds were
found to complete the line to that point.
The tracks reached that
point on August 9, 1875. Due
to the Midlands poor financial
position, the line was not put in a suitable condition for passenger
traffic until December
of that year.
The extension to Waubaushenedid not revive the Midlands
deteriorating revenues. In 1872, the last year before the depression
began in 1873, the Midland generated $304,333 in revenues
which 77 per cent came from freight shippers. The year 1875 saw
revenues fall seven per cent from those
of 1872. As its revenues
declining by a further four per cent
in 1876, the company suspended
work on the final section of the line from Waubaushene to
The local way freight crew and the station agent at Waubaushene, along with his daughter, stopped their activity long enough for a
photographer to record this scene sometime ahout 1906. The
265 was a 4-4-0 built by the Manchester Locomotive Works in 1873. When
to the GT it was initially assigned number 199. It was renumbered 180 in 1882, 467 in 1898, 265 in 1904 and 2037 in 1910. The
locomotive never appeared on a CN roster as it was withdrawn from service
in 1918. This view provides a clear view of the end of a ypical
GT caboose oj the period.
During the period the photograph was taken, the
GT scheduled two round rips daily except Sunday between Midland and Blackwater
Junction. At Blackwater Junclion connections were made with the train to Toronto and Port Hope. No run
of the mill branch line, one pair
of the Midland trains caJ/ied a parlour cal which provided through service between Toronto and Midland.
Patterson-George Collection.
In 1877, work resumed on a modest scale. Rails were laid
3.5 miles from Waubaushene to Victoria Harbour.
The capital
in this extension was $44,084. Midland President A.
Hugel commented, Thejinancial position of the Company permits
of but a gradual completion of this work, but this diffiCUlty it is
hoped will be shortly overcome, and thus enable the Management
to finish the remaining seven miles to Midland, when the system oj
the Midland Railway will be completed, and when it call be
confidently predicted that from its geographical position and the
of the finest harbor on Georgian Bay, the road will
assume a prosperous financial position, and justify the conJidence
bestowed on it by its owners.
In order to better serve the Georgian Bay Lumber Company
mill at Severn, situated approximately four miles
by water from
in 1877 the Midland rebuilt the trackage on its
lumber wharf to permit freight cars loaded on scows to be transferred to its trains.
The following year, the Midland spent
$183.60 installing rails on two scows constructed
by the Georgian
Lumber Company.
Work on the line to Midland was discontinued
in August
1878, at which time rails had been laid to the River Wye.
As the
financial condition
of the Midland had continued to deteriorate,
with revenues falling to
by $15,000 from 1877. At the same time,
costs increased
by $20,000, largely to correct the effects of
deferred maintenance.
In 1878, the English bondholders replaced President Hugel
with George A. Cox. In 1879 the work was resumed and the final
three miles
of track were laid into Midland. The line officially
opened to Midland on July
14, 1880, ten years after work had
begun on the 74 mile long prior
to the official opening, on June
15th, the Lindsay-Midland extension.
Running westboundfrom Lindsay on fume 15, 1956, CN Mikado 3329 hauls a long string of empty box cars destined to Midlandfor another
of grain. The 3329 was built by the Montreal Locomotive Works for the Canadian Government Railways in 1917, and it was retired
by CN
in 1960.
Patterson-George Collection.
Several weeks before the official opening, on June 15th,
the Midland operated a special train to show its new terminal to
influential businessmen.
The special train from Port Hope met
another special which had run up the Toronto & Nipissing Railway
(T&N) from Toronto at Woodville Junction. As the
T&N was built
to narrow gauge
of three feet six inches, it was necessary for the
Toronto delegation
to change to the standard gauge Midland train.
Amongst those making the transfer were W. Gooderham, Jr.,
President of the T&N;
1. G. Worts, Director of Bank of Toronto;
W. B. Hamilton, General
Manager of the Bank of Toronto; G. Y.
Yarker of the Bank of Montreal; W. Wilby of the Imperial Bank;
and a host
of lessor luminaries.
Upon arrival
at Midland, the Toronto delegation expressed
their admiration for the fine natural harbour and extensive facilities
which the Midland had under construction, including a 250,000
bushel grain elevator and 1,000 feet
of wharfage with about half the wharfage having a natural depth
of 18 to 23 feet for steamships.
During their trip around the harbour on a steam yacht, Messrs.
Gooderham and Worts expressed their surprise that other railways
had not taken advantage
of the harbour. They are reported as saying
the trade resources
of Midland were almost incalculable. Mr
Gooderham added that there would be more through western grain
from the United States points seeking to use the Midland route than
the railway would be able
to handle.
if to reinforce the vision of streams of golden grain
flowing through Midlands funnel,
it was announced on the return
train trip that the
T&N would standard gauge its line to from a
through route between Midland and Toronto as well as spend
$250,000 to improve its line and increase its rolling stock.
The Midland had come under new management with the
of George Cox as its President in August 1878.
Recognizing that competition had lowered rates but not increased
rcenue~. he moved 10 harmonize the relations between the
railways in Central Onmrio. In 1 !S79. a pooillgrcernenl was ent,red
with Ihc Whitby. PorI Perry & Lindsay (WPP&L). ;111 ,tplly
nnmed railway which 11111 belwtcn the towns in ils corpor-lie tille.
10 divide the camings of the two companie~. A m:l.fln … d ~ucccss in
jncrea~ing revenues, arrJngcmCnlS were m;ldc with three other
in 1880 in order to st .. bilizc rJICi. 111( agreement with the
Nonhcm & Northwestern. which had lines from -lnmi1l0n and
Toronto oCol1ingwood. another port on OCQrgian Bay.c.l!lblbhcd
unifonn r:l[es. ArrJngcmCnlS made wilh the Victoria Railway.
ran from Lindsay Haliburton. cSlabli~hed jOint r:lIe~ nml
the divjsions of the revenue~ between the two cornpanic:.. With the
agrecmem wilh the T &N. Cox had achieved rate hnmlOny throughout
of the territory !lervcd by the Midland.
OVoing the opening or the glJin elevator in Midland. the
waJ. bu~tling with grain ship:) from the U. S. pons along
Lakes Michigan and Supe
rior. This bonanza. howc·er. was not an
unmixed blessing. The Midland was so shon ofC<11S it soon had to
refuse shipments. This problem lISidc. the Midland ~1jW il~ net
SO;lr to;1Il all-time high in 1880.
nle following year. the Midl.uld expanded its sphere of
inOuence by lea~ing the GrJnd Junction Railway which extended
from Peterborough to Belleville. In order
to shonen the di~lanee
between Midland and Belleville. a cut-off was built betwten
:md Peterborough in 1883. This was done under the
chaner of the Toronto & Ollawa Railway in 1883,
Tlte Monlreal Gazelle had forecasted these steps in July
1880 when assessing the possible developl1lent~ uf the Midland
[As soon as the elevator
is compleled at Midland]. Ihlrl.
11 pmsprcl nf all armllgemelll being marie willi a lille of
propdlels [steamships] 10 run he/weell Midlwld and Ihe pons of
Ihe weSlefli lakes … The rood frum Lindsay 10 Pllerhoru. I/Oit by
ook, COllld be shorlened 10 half ils less Ihon half till (liSlllllel
by ({Jlllleelillg Ihese IIIU {williS …. illl (I shari branch [from Olllcml.-ocj
10 Pt.I/rlloll)ugli, All (IrrOllgClllC!J/ may possibly /)( made …. ith rh
Gralld JUIIClioll railwa) so us In mak~ a lille for h~ 81(1ill traffic
from Mill/and all Ihe GeOrgiGiI Bay 10 Ihe Buy of Quill/( (II
/)el/elille. where (/I(/IolS beillg (reeled. Ih~ grain Itiff be /rollsferred
ill/o Ixlrg4S (1/I(llJroughl direct ill/I) MOll1real. There is 110 dOIl/)1
Ihlll would in Ihi mo.rl II.·onomkol method of trmlSporl. II wo1l1d
ginla Ihe 8mill Ill( oplioll of goillg 011 Ithell it reached Bellel·jfle
IIy tlu Grand Trunk 10 Ihis cit) 01 by burgIS. (I.r the colldilioll of
IImll(lge (/11(1 fiiiXllls (/I Montrtlll al tht mOllltlll mig/II rellder
TIlt Graml }tll/(·tioll is liJ.:dy IV be (omph-Ied ill/a
PI/(rborOUKI! p()ssibly (Iurillg Iht prlst1I/ )f(lr (lnd Ihere is lillie
dUll/If Ilul/ if wO/lld Iw ill IIII illfertSI of holh companies 10 make an
(Irl(lll!;l.mnlf by whieh Il!ry would practically become O/lt.
In addition to its 1ca:;e of Ihe Grund Junction. lhe Mldhlnd
capped ils
1881 uctivitic:; by amUlging 10 lease lhe T&N. lhe
P&L. Ihe Vietori;l. and the Toronto & Ottawa Railw3y~. Th(
consolidation of these companies into the Midland was approed
in 1882. Two years later. the
Midbnd was leased by the Grand
Tnmk (GT).
The Midland had
been controlled by its Eoglish bondholdeoc
~ince 1878. The commillce of bondholders had been headed by GT
President Sir Henry Tyler. GT feared that tile Midland system
be taken over by the Ontario & Quebec Railway (O&Q).
which was building an new line belween Montreal and Toronto. A~
the O&Q was !x-ing built oy tlx: backers of lhe Canadian Pacific.
the takeover of the Midland by it would h~e provided CP with a
ready built nelwo
rk serving the largest ccntres in tCntml Onlario,
The flow of grain through the pon of MicllAnd grew 10
mammoth proponions during the firstlhree decades of this c~ntury.
Thc Grand Trunk developed Midland and the adjacent nrea at
into its nl:ljor gmin pon on the lower lak(,s. Grain volumes
40 million bushels a year and elevators with II storage
capacity o
f6.5 million bushels ringed the harbour. The GT and it~
SutCC>sor CN rdn solid gmin trains from Midland to Montreal
Ihe gr.lin wns pl:lCed in steam~hips for ofXln or milled for
domestic purposes. However.
the opening of the new Welland
mml in the early 1930·s. allowed shipping companies to handle
gr.1in through to MOlllreal at rJtes chcuper than those possible by
rniL This diverted most of the gmin tmde from the pons on
Georgilln Bay.
The decision by the federal govemme
nt to CCllSC to ~ubsid izo:
reduced rutes on grain milled in CeJllrul Canadi,U ports such us
Midl:md and then re-shipped to East CooS! pons for export blled
wli,lt gmin Imntc had remained It mo~t of the Georgian Bay pons.
on McNicoll. Ihe last pon facility to be d~velopeJ on Georgian
Bay lU)(1 once CPs largest gmin pon on the lower lakes. now h.1.S
bo..-cn complelely Iloondoned.
V ill such a fllte (I … ·ait the remains of tile ~lidland Subdivision?
The final chapter in
Ihe histury of thc rJilway to Midland has yCl
10 be wrincll.
Repon~ of the Midland Rllil ….. ay 1872 to 1883
O .. :cision uf the N~liontll TIJn~pOnlllin Agency in Reg,lrd to an
Application by
eN 10 Abandon the Midland Subdivision. June 20.
G. R. Canadian N:lIional Railways. Sixty Ye:lrs of
Trial and Error. Clarke. Irwin & Company. Toronto 1960
Thc Times and County of Simcoe Expositor. I~sue of July 22. 1880
[This issue contained a reprint of th~ Montreal Gazette article
ng the future of the Midland Railw:I),]
BliCK COliER: GOI/l. vw I/ot fQrguf/erI. Ol/lOrio Norlhlallds train No. /2/. Thl Norllf/lInda. I}{JIf{rld hy 17 A No. /517. makes (/ .HOp
(J/ III! O…Rs III.I< millims fil(ilily (s/mion) (If North 8ay (lll its way /lorth 10 Clwhmll£ Ollaria. Tire (/(lIl lI(lS £(lSI(r SUII(I(I) M(lrel! 3/,
199/. 11/ JIIII/I(/r), 1992. Ihe Ellm,)(OIl eqllllmelll ()f Ilris Ir(lill 1(1S /(pl(lred lIy newly-reli/lill cars aCf/llirld from GO 1rtm,it.
!IIO/o hy Pllrrl O:omk.
Canadian Rail
120, rue St-Pierre, SI. Constant, Quebec
Canada J5A 2G9
Postmaster: it undelivered within
10 days relurn to sender, postage guaranteed.
r-_~ __ .. _
…….. -…. –
l.nlflllall PosIHlltrt
PERMIS , 148
Sl CONSTANT. out J5A 2G2

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