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Canadian Rail 461 1997

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Canadian Rail 461 1997

Canadian Rail
No. 461
ISSN 0008-4875
F. ANGUS ………………………. 154
THE BEAVER RETURNS ………………………………………………………………
…… FRED F. ANGUS………………………. 164
No.7 ………………………………………………………….. JEAN-PAUL VIAUD …………………… 167
IN CANADA ………………………………………………………. 170
TO THE EDITOR ……………………………………………………………………………………… 171
FRONT COVER: The Illtercoionial Railways North Street stalion in Halifax soon after the explosioll 0/December6, 1917. The ro%flhe lrain shed has collapsed, and mallY
o/the statioll are boarded up. The snow isfrom the huge blizzard that occurred on December 8. Notice the street car on the left, already back in service. The slalioll,
ill 1876, IVas closed abow /IVa years after the explosion. Compare (his photo with Ihe olle 011 the back cover o/Canadian Rail No. 433, March -April 1993.
BELOW-Apassellger train amid the wreckage soon after the lrack was cleared and pul back into service. NOle the old wooden combine carjust behind the engine. This is a
detail from the panoramic
photo that appears 011 page 150. National Archives of Canada, Photo No. C-19945.
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EDITOR: Fred F. Angus
CO-EDITOR: Douglas
NW. Smith
W. Bonin
F. Angus
PRINTING: Procel Printing
DISTRIBUTION: Joncas Postexperts
The Magnificent Railways
Rail Response to the 1917 Halifax Explosion
By Joseph Scanlon
Director, Emergency Communications Research Unit, Carleton University, Ottawa
On December 6, 1997, at about 9:05 A.M. it will be exactly eighty years since Canadas worst disaster; the Halifax Explosion.
There are few people around who remember it first hand, but to those that do, it is likely the most dramatic event
of their lives. Five years
ago, on the 75th anniversary, we had a major article on the subject, describing the effect the Explosion had on the railways. Today we have
another article which treats the subject from a different perspective; the contribution
of the railways to the relief of the sufferers and the
of the news. In this article, Mr. Scanlon brings out aspects of the story which have tended to be overlooked by other accounts.
Mr Scanlon is just completing a book on the response to the 1917 explosion. There are two working titles: one is Explosion, the other
is Within Living Memory. To commemorate the eightieth anniversary we are privileged to present this highly infonnative article, which
is an excerpt from the forthcoming book.
Just after 9.05 a.m. on Thursday, December 6th, 1917, the
of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, George Graham, started
walking from the Richmond yards, near Halifaxs North end sta­
tion, to Rockingham, a distance,
if he followed the tracks, of 4.1
miles or 6.56 kilometres. As he walked, he passed by overturned
railway cars and damaged engines and the bodies
of 25 railway
employees. It was the morning
of Canadas worst disaster, the
Halifax Explosion, and Graham was on his way for help.
The Halifax Explosion occurred 20 minutes after a
Norwegian ship, the
Imo, and a French ship, the Mont Blanc,
collided in the harbour. The Mont Blanc was carrying picric acid
(a high explOSive) in its forward hold, gun cotton
in its centre
hold and
TNT aft. On deck it had banels of aviation gasoline.
The collision broke open the balTels of gasoline, created sparks
that set it on fire and sent the flaming gasoline into the forward
hold. Twenty minutes later, the ship exploded with one-seventh
the power
of the first atomic bomb.
The explosion destroyed everything within 800 metres and
damaged everything within 1,600 metres. It also started hun­
of fires. Many persons were injured when hit by flying
glass (they had been watching the fire out the window.) Others
were trapped
in their damaged homes and burned to death when
stoves tipped over. The explosion also created a tidal wave that
lifted ships out
of the water dropping one smaller boat, the Hilford,
amongst debris on the docks.
Many details
of what happened were kept secret because
the explosion caused severe problems for the Canadian Army.
of the wooden buildings at Wellington Barracks, east of the
main impact area, were damaged, destroyed
or set on fire. The
Armoury, where recruits were drilling, was a wreck. The girders
in the roof were broken, rendering the building unsafe. Fourteen
soldiers were killed, 399 injured and 39 were still missing six
weeks after the explosion. Eighty
per cent of these casualties
were at the Wellington BalTacks.
The Infectious Diseases Hospital near Bedford Basin was
so badly damaged its patients had to be evacuated, but it admitted
150 victims. The Nova Scotia Hospital for the mentally ill was
also damaged., but
it turned its recreation area into an emergency
hospital and dealt with 250 injured. Cogswell Street Military
Hospital had its windows and window casings and outer doors
blown into the wards. Parts
of the ceiling collapsed. The ceiling
of the operating room was destroyed. It took in 400 to 500 pa­
The Victoria General, had about 150 beds. It received 750
patients. These figures are estimates -at most hospitals no one
kept count.
For Victoria General, there are no records of who was
or who was admitted. Though all three operating rooms
were going non-stop, there are also no records
of who underwent
surgery. (The figure
of 750 comes from its annual report.) At Camp
Hill, where someone did count, the numbers are incredible: Camp
Hill was a military convalescent hospital with 280 beds and no
operating room. Late Thursday evening, it had 1,400 critically
injured patients. For several days, its staff and volunteers per­
formed surgery using makeshift facilities.
The chef in Grahams private railway car was serving
breakfast to Graham and his daughter when the French munitions
Mont Blanc, exploded with one-seventh the power of the
first atomic bomb. Graham and his daughter escaped injury but
when he looked outside he saw devastation. There were 374 dam­
or destroyed freight cars and five damaged engines. There
was even a naval tug on shore in that wreckage.
(It had been lifted
by the wave caused by the explosion and dropped onto the
docks.) Although neither Graham nor anyone else would know
this for some time, there were
55 railway employees among the
1,963 dead. To Graham, however, something else was signifi­
cant: the railway telegraph was down. To send for help, he would
have to walk to the nearest surviving station; so thats what he
George Graham started with the railway as a telegrapher
in Locust, Ontario, then took leave
to study shOithand and typing.
After that his career took off. In June, 1889,
he became secretary
to M.
J. Haney, the man who built the Crows Nest Pass portion of
the C.P.R. Later, he was chief clerk to Thomas, later Lord,
Shaughnessy, c.P.R. s General Superintendent, (who became Presi­
in 1899 and served in that capacity until 1918). Graham was
then made superintendent
in Winnipeg, Brandon, Fort William
and Vancouver succesively before coming east in November, 1915,
as general manager
of the Dominion Atlantic. The Evangeline
Trail was Grahams idea
as was the Digby golf course and Grand
Pre park. He was so enthusiastic about Nova Scotia, many as­
sumed he was born there.
Doreen Roberts says in her thesis for Acadia that, George
Graham was not a man who would seem likely to engender affec­
tion. He was a dictator. He was impatient and domineering.
morning of the explosion, he was at his domineering best. When
he reached Rockingham, he probably sat down at the telegraph
key himself. Then he gave his orders to Dominion Atlantic head­
quarters at Kentville, aware that Wolfville and Windsor were lis­
tening in: he wanted a special train with physicians and nurses to
come to Halifax as quickJy
as possible.
The huge cloud of smoke from the explosion was photographed
from an unidentified ship several miles away.
National Archives
of Canada, Photo No. PA-166585.
As Graham was walking towards
Rockingham, a civil engineer with the
Intercolonial Railway, W. A. Duff, was check­
ing out the damage in the
citys North end.
He had borrowed a car from Cook Construc­
tion and as he drove through the debris he could
see hundreds
of homes on fire and thousands
of injured making their way to medical cen­
tres. (It
is estimated that 9,000 persons were
injured in the explosion.) At the North end sta­
he found the roof had collapsed, causing
many deaths and injuries. (Later, the remains
of the roof had to be knocked down.) He could
also see wreckage blocking the lines.
Graham, Duff decided to head to Rockingham.
however, didnt make it immediately.
There were so many injured he felt compelled
to drive some
of them to the Victoria General
Hospital. By the time he did that and started
out a second time to Rockingham, there were
already piles
of corpses along the roads.
for military help but he felt more was needed. Among the dead
were the fire chief, his deputy and all but one
of the crew that
responded when a ship was reported on fire. Colwell asked
to send another message:
[ again went to Rockingham and got in touch with our
dispatcher at Truro and asked him
to get messagesfrom the Mayor
of Halifax to the different towns of Nova Scotia and New Bruns­
wick. After sending these messages for the
mayO!; 1 arranged that
telephone company get a wire working for us between
Rockingham and Halifax Ocean Terminals in order to bring trains
in to Halifax on their {//rival.
At the time of the explosion, the Intercolonial was build­
ing the new rail line that would circle Halifax then
cut into the
waterfront at what
is now the container port near Point Pleasant
The new station would be at the south rather than the north
of the city. By December 1917, the line itself was largely
finished but there was no telegraph line. Duff realized the new
line could be opened
if a telegraph line was installed. That would
allow trains to by-pass the wreckage
in the Richmond yards and
enter the city at the relatively undamaged south end.
Despite the devastation and despite a blinding
snow storm
that hit Halifax that weekend, Maritime Telephone
& Telegraph
got the telegraph in place so the new rail line could
On Friday, the Ocean Limited left Halifax for Montreal
from the new Ocean terminal. On Tuesday, when a trainload
injured was taken to New Glasgow, it, too, left from the new ter­
at the south end of the city.
In addition to killing and injilling residents, knocking
buildings and starting hundreds of fires, the Halifax Explosion
knocked out both the commercial telegraph and the telephone sys­
tem. Until noon that day, the crucial link between
Halifax and
the outside world was the railway telegraph. It was through the
railway telegraph that messages went out requesting
an orgariized
J arrived there probably about 10
or shortly afterward. At Rockingham,
[ found that 1 could get
in touch with our des­
patcher at
Truro on our own wires and [ gave
him a message for
C. A. Hayes, General Man­
agel; and stating what occurred at Halifax, and This
is all that was left of the fire chiefs automobile. Chief Edward Condon, his assistant
and many members
of the fire department, had answered the alarm and were preparing to
fight the fire on the Mont Blanc. They were killed in the explosion.
Photo by MacLaughlan.
giving him also approximate damage done
to property and my
of the number of wounded and killed asked him all doc­
tors, nurses and relief supplies possible be sent
to Halifax from
places in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
After that, Duff headed back into the city. There, he met
the acting mayor, Henry Colwel
I. Colwell had already visited the
Canadian Army commander, General
Thomas Benson, and asked response.
It was also through the railway telegraph that news of
what happened spread across Nova Scotia and around the world.
In its first report
of the explosion, the London Times cited the
Intercolonial railway in Moncton as its source
of information.
Although George
Grahams message to Kentville was the
message to call for help, the first response was already
underway when Graham sent that message. Even before the ex-
-.()~ o~J

—-~. … ,.)
plosion, Vincent Coleman had heard what was happening and had
wired Rockingham
warning that a munitions ship was on fire.
When Coleman
sent that message the Boston Express was al­
ready past Rockingham and the Kentville train was held up (the
Express was late) so
Colemans message had no effect on incom­
ing trains. However, his message was heard not
just in Rockingham
in Stewiacke, Shubenacadie and all the other stations along
the line
to Truro. When the Mont Blanc exploded, there was an
immecliate reaction all along the line.
When communications with Halifax were lost, the opera­
tor at Truro passed the word to the station manager and he told
the mayor, WiJliam Dunbar. Dunbar ordered the fire alarm sounded
-it blows 10 whistles for an emergency -then stalted calling
his colleagues. (Dunbar was a physician.) A special train carrying
Truros physicians, nurses and volunteer firefighters was en route
to Halifax
in less than an hour, the mayor among them, No one
had to be convinced there was a problem: the explosion was so
powerful it had shattered the windows in Truros Lealmont Hotel.
of the breakdown in communications, no train orders
could be issued: the Truro special had to work its way from sta­
to station. At most stations it picked up others who wished to
go to Halifax. At Shubenacadie, for example, Hugh Upham, a
Presbyterian minister,
got on board. Because it was an emer­
gency, everyone travelled free.
While the train from Truro was en route, Dominion At­
lantic staff
in Kentville, Wolfville and Windsor were rounding up
physicians and nurses. Bill Collicutt was a patient at the Kentville
Sanitorium. He says:
ALII remember is-terrific excitement, that
a special train was leaving
for Halifax with as many as they could
possibly spare
at the Sanitorium. Collicutt had come back from
overseas with tuberculosis. Incredibly enough he was back in the
Sanitarium the day John Kennedy was assassinated. (He was 97
in 1994.) Dr.
W. B. Moore of Kentville also remembers that day.
He was about to start his rounds when he received a call from the
Dominion Atlantic asking him to assist:
At once I prepared to do as requested, and was gratified
shortly afterwards
to find that willing response had been made by
all available medical men and nurses
of the town and vicinity,
who were at the station and entrained for Halifax.
Kentville was an important railway centre in 1917. DAR
headquarters had paint shops, repair shops, and a round house
with turntables. It employed about 120 men. Trains coming from
Yarmouth and Digby stopped for
15 minutes so passengers could
get lunch. It was the station for Aldershot, where 1,000 Canadian
troops waited to be shipped overseas and a manufacturing centre.
In 1910, it became the
home of the Nova Scotia Carriage Co.,
which, over the next few years, produced 10 different models
automobiles, 115 styles of carriages and 22 different sleighs. Given
these resources -and a direct order from the boss -it
wasnt long
before Kentville, too, had a train en route to Halifax. It was the
second to alTive with relief personnel and supplies. As well as
physicians and nurses
it canied pharmacists and a Leo Tooke, the
police officer who would spent the next three weeks managing
the morgue.
George Graham had seen for himself what had happened.
The superintendent
of the Canadian Government Railway had also
seen what happened but
JT. Hallisey was cut about the head and
unable to function.
The general manager of the Intercolonial, C.
A. Hayes, was in Moncton and had no personal knowledge of
what happened. Before long, however, he had several sources of
information. The first was Vincent Colemans last message. It
had mentioned a munitions ship and fire. Then came Duffs
two wires. Hayes advised the Minister of Railways, J. H. Reid:
A map of the devastated area published late in Decembel; 1917.
The large
X marks the approximate site of the explosion.
train. (Hayes sent the first train immedi­
ately because
he knew it would take time
round up and load this equipment: he
attached his private
car with that first train
-he felt his
place was in Halifax.) A third
train left
Moncton at three oclock: it car­
ried another physician, six nurses, Alder­
man Chapman and other officials.
The new fire engine Patricia was the pride of the Halifax fire department. This is what it
looked like aftel: the explosion. All members
of the crew of the engine were killed.
The Truro train reached the out­
of Halifax at 12.20. The special from
got there two hours later, the one
New Glasgow three hours after that.
The first Moncton train arrived at 11 :00
At first, all those on board had to walk
from the outskirts past the debris and the
bodies and the burning houses. Only when
they reached City Hall were they greeted
and given specific assignments. (The hast­
ily formed Halifax
Relief Committee was
already taking charge of the response.)
Later, the trains were met by soldiers with
cars. At the request of acting Mayor
Colwell, the Canadian Army had seized
ci vilian vehicles for emergency use.
Halifax is on fire. Sending special trains out of Moncton
and any other city with fire apparatus and auxiliGlY outfits and
up all fire apparatus between Moncton and Sydney and
rushing them
to Halifax.
That message was the first wire received by Ottawa. The
federal government told the Governor General and he, in turn,
wired London, even sending a special personal wire to the King.
The railway telegraph was the link to the world.
In addition to wiring Ottawa,
Hayes got his staff to phone
Moncton City Hall. Then, at a hastily called meeting at his of­
fice, it was agreed a special train would be
sent to Halifax carry­
ing doctors, nurses, Intercolonial safety first men, and medical
supplies. Bandages and surgical equipment
would be supplied by
local firms.
Those present were Hayes, three members of his
staff, the city clerk, J. A. Magee, and
Alderman A. C. Chapman.
Duffs request was also relayed to other Intercolonial sta­
tions. In New Glasgow, the local superintendent passed the news
to the mayor.
By 11.45 a.m., New Glasgow had a train ready
of two flat cars -one loaded with a
steam fire pumper, the Lulan, the other with 900
metres of hose -and two passenger cars. On
board were five physicians and eight nurses. Also
on board were provisions and a chef. By the time
the train was assembled, 25 StelJarton firefight­
were also on board. (Many of the men in the
roundhouse were volunteer firefighters.) The train
picked up three more physicians -one in
Stellarton, (Clarence Miller), one in Westville (A.
Ross) and one in Hopewell (A. W. McLeod). It
was the third relief train to reach Halifax.
The first Moncton train left for Halifax
at 11.05.
At Sackville, it picked up more supplies.
At Amherst, it hooked on a flat car with r–l—.
The trains from Truro, Kentville, New Glasgow and
Moncton were the only trains to reach Halifax the day of the ex­
plosion though others
were on the way. One was from Pictou: it
was carrying physicians, nurses and the prime minister, Robert
who had come across by government boat from P.E.I.
Two others
were from Saint John and Sydney. The rest came
from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and from To­
ronto and Montreal. All were stopped by the snow storm that
struck overnight.
The first train from Boston, for example, made
fairly good time as far as Moncton. It even passed the regular
Boston to Halifax Express.
The conductor was E. F. L. Sturdee
who reported:
East of Moncton, we came into the full force of the bliz­
zard. It was a nightmare. The snow in some places was actually
up to the window sills of the cars. We would get stuck in the drifts
and the engineer would back
up, stop, race forward again and
push the drifts with the weight
of the train and all the speed he
could gather. This continued through the night … we made the
run from Moncton to Halifax
in 13 hours.
firefighting equipment, including hoses and a hose
cart, (An account published in Canadian Rail in
1992 says that there was also a special from
Amherst.) A second special left Moncton at one [====l:~~==~::::i;;~~::~~~:::::=~J
oclock. It was pulling flat cars loaded with a
engine, hose wagon and cranes. On board
were also firefighters and a wrecking crew from
the railway, needed to clear the tracks,
There were A soldier guards the freight yard beside the wreckage of the cars.
also three military hospital cars attached to this Photo by MacLaughlan
When these trains finally reached Halifax,
the city needed tar paper, beaver board, nails, glass,
putty and other building materials and it also
needed workmen but it had an over supply of phy­
sicians and nurses.
The Dominion Atlantic and
Intercolonial had seen to that. Between them, on
the day
of the explosion, the two railways had
moved six special trains, all carrying vital per­
sonnel and equipment, and they had done this de­
spite the loss
of tracks and equipment and per­
sonnel and
damage to the railway telegraph. Per-~
haps the only thing that makes this performance
less remarkable was that in 1917, the fourth year
of the war, the railways were moving special troop
trains and supply trains every day. Whatever the
son, on the day of the explosion, the railways
were magnifi
Although the main railway movement the
of the explosion was to, rather than away from
some trains did get out. For the most
pmt, they can·ied uninjured or slightly injured sur-
s who wished to leave the city. One train, The ruins of Olands Brewery, with the feR tracks in the foreground.
which made it to Saint John, carried 50 injured
children. It also carried students from
Mount St. Vincent Academy. The Sis-
ters decided to suspend classes and en­
couraged their out
of town students to
go home. The Royal Naval College
closed down as did the School for the
Blind. Dalhousie University closed
until after Christmas. The soldiers who
had been
in Camp Hill hospital also
shipped out. Even though they were all
recovering from war wounds, they vo

untarily left their beds when they saw
the victims coming into the hospital.
Because of the enormous vol­
of telegraph traffic moving out of
and into Halifax, most students headed
home by train without messages to an­
nounce their arrival. Parents learned
that their children had survived the ex­
plosion when they turned up at their
or their local railway station. Once
again the Intercolonial provided emer-
A general view of the devastated district. Note the fnw aground on the opposite shore.
gency service. W. W. McPherson, said he was
ordered to carry,
any refugee,jare free… to any
point on the line.
f was instructed to stop at any point where
a passenger might want
to get off.
In 1917, trains on the move had no way
of communicating with each other, with stations
or with dispatchers. There were no cellular
phones on board, no radios, no telegraph keys.
Instead, they travelled according
to standing or­
ders issued before a journey began. Those orders
specified when they were to arrive at and leave
each station and when they were
to meet trains
coming the other way. A train might be late for
any number
of reasons; but it must never leave a
station before schedule.
Since the trains couldnt communicate,
each time they stopped at
or passed a station, the
station agent would note the time
of arrival and
departure and pass that information by railway
A steam pumper at work extinguishing fires. Thanks to the quick work of the fire
department, there was no general conflagration which would have caused even more
telegraph to the dispatcher for that line. The dis­
patcher would watch those messages and decide
if new orders were required. An [CR dispatcher
might, for example note that the train from
Moncton was on time, but the train from Truro
was late.
It would make sense to move the meet­
ing place from Sackville to Amherst.
If he did make that decision, he sent the
new orders to the stations concerned -first to
Amherst where the late train would now have to
stop and then to Sackville where the train on time
could move ahead.
The agents at those stations
would flip a lever which raised a signal ordering
the trains to stop. Then they would hand the new
orders to the conductors running those trains and
to the engineers driving them. This system in­
some careful checks to prevent errors.
New orders were not sent until the agent acknowl­
edged he was ready to receive. Only his tel­
I for Aye or his GAJor go head
would clear the way. Only when new orders were
repeated and the signal was set did the dispatcher
note those orders were
in effect. All trains were
also classified as
superior and Inferior de­
pending on the direction. Inferior trains took
the siding, while
Superior t.rains used the main
The code used on both railroads was
American Land Line. It
is similar to Morse Code
and to the Continental system used by the com­
mercial telegraph companies but has its own vari­
ations. Ten letters -the C, F,
J, O. P, Q, R, X, Y
and Z -are different from Morse because they
are sent using a pause
as well as dots and dashes.
The dashes also vary in length. C, for example,
is dash dot
dash dOL in Morse code, dot dot
in Land Line. A short or normal dash
T. A long dash means L. It took station
agents years to become proficient at
sending and
receiving. When they were comfortable, it be­
came like music -they could take
40 words a
minute, listening to the flow
of the words, rather
than the dots, dashes and spaces
of the letters.
Although train orders were coded with
calls signs such
as H for Halifax, G for Truro
A for Rockingham, 80 for Moncton,
they were heard not
just by the station receiving
them but by every station along that portion
the line. On the Intercolonial, for example, all
messages from Halifax could be heard by every
station between Halifax and Tluro, all messages
from Moncton could be heard by every station
from Moncton to Truro and all messages from
Glasgow could be heard by every station
Sydney to Truro. Halifax, Moncton and
New Glasgow each ran their part
of the line. That
made Truro the hub sin
ce messages from all three
regions could be heard in Tluro.
LEFT A view from Pier 8, showing part of
the railway yard. Notice the locomotive (prob­
of the Halifax and Southwestern Railway)
partly buried in wreckage. A MissoUli Pacific
freight car is also visible.
Photo by Canada Patent and Copyright office.
National Archives
of Canada, Photo C-J 9947.
When a station in one region, say the
Intercolonials headquarters at Moncton, wished to talk
to a station in another region, say Halifax, the message
had to be relayed
or patched through Truro. (A telegraph
link could
be extended .. at night, some Atlantic agents
send directly to Toronto.) When the telephone
came into use,
it was possible to by-pass the telegraph;
but that prevented stations in between from hearing a
call. Since the efficient running
of the line depended on
information being shared, that made no sense.
Although handling messages, especially train or­
ders, was a crucial
part of an agents job, he had other
duties. He would
answer inquiries, sell tickets, send
and receive telegrams and, in many smaller centres, bar­
gain with merchants about freight rates. (On the
Intercolonial an agent could set rates for shipments go­
ing as far as 100 miles.) Small stations might have an
agent who was not an operator.
Some larger ones had
an agent and an operator. In any station with a telegraph,
staff kept an
ear on it, just the way police officers listen
to all calls on their radios.
That was partly because they
didnt want to miss a call, partly because it was the way
to keep informed. Station agents knew who was com­
ing and going and who was planning a trip.
They knew
if there was trouble down the line and they would hear
if something of enormous significance was
going on. In smaJl towns, they were the first to know
when a soldier had been killed, news they kept to them­
selves -the family had a right to
hear first.
Although no one on the incoming Boston Express
was hurt in the explosion, the train was surrounded by
injured as
soon as it stopped in the Richmond yards.
The passengers ripped up sheets from the sleeping cars
to make bandages and drained water from the engines
wash out wounds. One of the passengers, A. S. Goldberg,
described the scene:
When we got to Africville the train made a com­
plete stop.
We got out and we were horrified at the sight.
The platform
of the railway station was crowded with
wounded people, most
of them children. Many of the
children were groping about. They could not see. Their
eyes were filled with small bits
of glass. 1 noticed, too,
that most of the children were cut about the neck. It
seemed just as
if a keen knife edge had slashed each
little throat.
George Graham saw what was happening as he
walked past. As soon as he was finished issuing his or­
ders, he boarded the Kentville t.rain -the one that had
stopped -and spotted a young Army physician, Avery
De Witt. (De Witt was from Kentville and had been at
home overnight.) Graham told De Witt his help was
put him on a yard engine and sent him to the
Boston Express.
If De Witt had doubts about the seriousness of the
situation, the trip on the yard engine ended them.
man driving the engine was the fireman -his engineer
was killed in the explosion.
He was also dirty and shiv-
LEFT: Another view from the wate/front. Plainly
is Canadian Government Railways boxcar
250213, badly damaged. Notice also the trees blown
over, and also the men on horseback.
Photo by
MacLaughlan. National Archives of
Canada, Photo No. C-I9950.
ering ( he had used his coat to cover an injured child.) When De
Witt reached the stopped train, he found hundreds
of injured des­
perately in need
of medical care.
…. he set to work immediately, operating amid the ruins
and assisting in loading the wounded.
… he being the only doctor
on board.
He peiformed two successful operations for removal of
the eye, his only instruments being a pair of scissors and a for­
(As he worked, he may have acquired some extra band­
The driver of the yard engine went out to Mount SI. Vincent
College jumped out
of his cab and ran to towards the Sisters of
Charity to ask for help. They ripped up sheets and slips and eve­
rything else they could find to make bandages.
It seems likely
the engineer brought these back to Avery De Witt and the Boston
It was
nearly noon when the trains conductor, J. G,
Gillespie, got permission to
move the engine to a roundhouse for
water and fueL It was
one oclock before the train slowly left
Halifax, 1 :40 before
it reached Bedford. By that time the special
from Truro had already arrived: its passengers h
ad started walk­
ing into the city,
Those on the Boston Express will never forget the jour­
ney that followed.
The trains windows were shattered and 250 of
the 300-odd passengers were injured, some seriously. One body
from the yard engine, Wiley B. Canning, had hastily been pulled
into the trains cab. As the train moved along, Avery DeWitt walked
from car to car, performing emergency surgery. (He was so busy
he was unaware that another physician and a nurse had boarded
the other end
of the train at Windsor Junction,) Eighteen on the
train had eye injuries, Five had to have one or both eyes removed,
His patients included five-year-old
Frances Simmons, who had
both eyes removed, and seven-year-old Delonora McLellan, who
had one eye removed, Two other children -three-year-old
Henrietta Smith, and Laurie Clancey, not quite five -died be­
fore the train reached Truro.
McLellans parents, two brothers and a sister
were with her. One brother, George, died the next day, The oth­
ers, including her mother, who also had facial cuts and injuries to
both eyes, survived, Laurie Clancey, who also died, was with her
mother and father, her brother, Robert and three sisters -Flor­
ence, (no age available) Anna, nine, and Elizabeth, 10, There
were 10 sailors from Calonne and one from Curaca, from two
ships which had been loading horses
in the inner harbour, These
men had climbed the bank along the harbour up
to the railway
When the Boston
Express reached Truro at 3,30, Avery
De Witt was in for two surprises. The first was that all the Truro
physicians and nurses had gone to Halifax. The second was that
there was another physician and a nurse on board -his father and
his sister. (They were the ones who boarded at Windsor Junction
DeWitt, his father and his sister would have to deal with
250 to 300 patients using volunteer help. However, the people of
Truro were not caught entirely by surprise, Warned by the rail­
way the trainload
of injured was arriving, they rounded up 40
automobiles and set up emergency hospitals
in the court house,
the Truro Academy and the fire hall, a
ll hastily furnished with
cots, Some also opened their homes, As one
of those on the train
In less time than it takes to tell about it all the sWvi­
vors who were on b
awd were carried to some place of comfort
and safety.
(The towns one ambulance made 34 trips from the
station to an emergency hospital.)
LEFT A general view of the devastated area, An enlarged detail
of the passenger train in this photo appears on page I42,
National Archives
of Canada, photo No, C-19945,
The sight of the injured was
Their faces were blackened
until their features were indistinguish­
able. Their clothing was torn
and, in
some cases, almost burned
to cinders
… small school children with their
school bags still
on their shoulders be­
ing l
ed by the train, many of them
blinded and otherwise crippled. One
little fellow had his arms blown
off at
the shouldel:
One scene was particularly
poignant. A young woman, holding
her baby, stood in the back yard
of the
home by
# 9 siding, where the train
had stopped. The baby was dead. The
youngster who lived in that house can
remember much else but he can
recall the lady, standing in his back
yard, holding her dead baby and cry­
Doug Rutherford was in school
at the time and
he had wanted to join
others flocking to Halifax. His mother
told him nol to –
if he did that he
catch it from his father -so
he headed to the Truro station where
he climbed into the first car
to take an
injured person to the
cowthouse. He
spent the afternoon assisting the nurses
while they bandaged injured patients.
When the nurses wanted
something [went and got it. They were
up the sick and putting band­
on their cuts and bruises. [ re­
member one fellow. He was about my
He was bad. [ kind of kept an eye
on him. Whenever he wanted some­
thing [ got it.
The nurses were actually
other volunteers. Despite the assist­
of persons like Rutherford and the
best efforts
of the DeWitts, 10 more
victims died within 24 hours. Among
them were five children
.. a baby named
Galbraith, the son
of Harry Galbraith;
Clara Carter, 10 months, Joseph
Latham, two years, four months, Reta
Levy, three years, nine months, daugh­
ter of Harvey Levy, a rai I way
brakeman; and Jacquelan Hills, age
Joseph Latham died in the
home of Principal Cummings of the
College. (The principal
had also taken
in his parents and they
were with the
child when he died.) Reta
Levy died in the
home of Mr. and Mrs.
A. Davidson. Her mother was with her
she died.
Three views of the damage at the North
Street station
of the [CR. These pho­
tos were tak
en after some service fUld
been restored to the station.
151 CANADIArl RAIL -461
A view of the Imo aground on the Dartmouth shore after the explo­
sion. This was the ship that collided with the Mont Blanc
and so
caused the disaster. The large sign BELGIAN RELIEF on the side
to indicate that it was carrying relief supplies so it would not be
torpedoed. The Imo, which was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast
in 1889 as the White Star liner Runic , was refloated four months
after the explosion, and sailed again. She was lost on December
Avery DeWitt kept going day and night for five consecu­
tive days, ignoring the fact his own hand was infected. As his
commanding officer reporter later,
He should have immediately
gone sick but he struggled on with his work, narrowly escaping
the loss
of his ann. DeWitt wasnt alone in his devotion. Two
passengers on the Boston Express, James Whitely
of St. Stephen,
New Brunswick, and John Clark
of Saint John, stayed in Truro
12 days, helping with the injured.
The first significant news coverage of the Halifax Explo­
sion took place at
10 a.m., 55 minutes after Mont Blanc blew up.
That was at Truro where,
as was traditional in those days, office
boys posted bulletin boards (which explains the origin
of bulle­
tin) outside the newspaper. The first bulletin posted
by the Daily
News was a succinct account that made no effort
to tell anything
more than was known:
is covered with smoke; all telegraph and phone wires
wrecked., motor cars are rushing
to the city from outside
points for information and
to furnish aid as necessary.
Before the paper went to press, there was more news and
the Daily News got all
of it in its first edition. More significant,
it had the basic story reasonably accurate:
Halifax Stricken With
Terrible Disaster At
9 oclock This Morning
Munitions ship in collision at
Pier 6 -Ship Set on Fire
A Fearful Explosion
in 20 Minutes
The coverage was a testimony to the reliability of the rail­
way telegraph. Truro was a division point
on the railroad, the link
between Halifax and Intercolonial headquarters
in Moncton –
and it was hearing all the news flowing
up and down the railway.
As each morsel
of information arrived, the railway staff would
it on to the newspaper, and staff from the paper would post it
outside their office. Within minutes, crowds were watching as
ABOVE: This is the type of telephone that was lIsed to spread
the news.
To make a call, you turn the crank which operates a
magneto generator. This signals the operator, or the other
phones on the party line. Then you take the receiver
off the
hook and listen for the answer. Telephones like this were still
in lise in some rural areas well into the 1950s.
Illustration from Northern Electric
Co. Catalogue No 3, 1917.
each new board was posted. Nova Scotia is a small, tightly-knit
province and many
in Truro had relatives in Halifax, including
children in school. Also, a number
of persons weflt in on the
early morning train. In fact, one
of the dead was Arthur Carroll, .
who had gone into Halifax on business that morning.
The telegraph,
of course, was only part of the reason the
news spread so quickly that morning. As soon
as news reached
any local station, the operator would immecliately tell everyone
he saw including the man who ran the general store. He would
tell his wife and since the storekeepers wife usually ran the local
telephone system -she would get onto the phone and, using the
phone as a party line, tell everyone else.
When the explosion occurred it made such a bang that Ina
in Pictou County thought immediately of her husband at
a nearby farm: the gasoline engine on the threshing machine might
have exploded. Next she thought
of another mine explosion in
Westville. Like many others, she was soon on the telephone try­
to find out what was going on.
The phone system Ina Mackay used was the Lovat Mu­
tual Telephone Company built
by local farmers in 1914. Its cen­
tral operator was the wife
of the storekeeper in Salt Spring. Those
on the line could talk
to each other by cranking and giving the
appropriate ring -the Mackay ring was 21, two long and one
short -but it was also possible for everyone
to get on at once,
thus the name, party line. Although the operator hadnt heard
anything when Ina Mackay first called her she soon heard what
had happened. The operator at the nearest railway station
in West
River heard the news when it was relayed from Moncton. He
passed it
on to others. One of those others was the operator at
Salt Spring. She told everyone
else. Given the drama of what
was happened, it is safe
to say that on Thursday, December 6th,
1917, the rural phone systems were more like radio stations than
a device for two-way conversations. Everyone was listening, wait­
ing for the latest news -and that news was coming along the rail­
way telegraph.
It is hard -after all these years –
to realize just how well the railway tel­
egraph and phone system performed on
6, 917. From the evidence
available it seems that those who took
the longest to learn were children at
school, and even they learned when they
came home for lunch at noon. That was
three hours after the explosion.
means news of the explosion spread all
over Nova Scotia in three hours despite
the fact that the commercial telegraph
was down and the phone system
in Hali­
fax was out
of action and despite the fact
that there was no radio and no
TV. That
is remarkable for in 1963, almost half a
century later, when John Fitzgerald
Kennedy was assassinated, it took pre­
cisely the same amount
of time, three
hours, for word·
of his death to spread
across the United States despite the fact
there was massi ve coverage by radio and
TV and a fully-developed phone system.
The armys hospital cars, intended for the use of wounded troops returning from the war, were
pressed into service
to treat the injured.
It is more than possible that some readers of this article
will know personally about what happened on December
6, 1917,
or will know people who do.
It is also possible that some readers
will know of letters, articles or other documents (even diaries)
relevant to the explosion.
The author would very much like to
ABOVE: Looking south, after the track was cleared of wreckage and
train service was restored. This photo was takenfrom the top
of a train;
note the locomotive in the foreground.
Photo by MacLaughlan
RIGHT .A surviving relic
of the explosion is this piece of the Mont
Blanc. This fragment, weighing almost
9 pounds, was picked up, nearly
a mile from the explosion site, by Lieut. Donald Angus, the father
of your
editOl; who was stationed in Halifax in 1917. It has been kept in the
for eighty years. The quarter-inch steel plate is crumpled and
torn as if it was {/ piece of paper. Many thousands of pieces like this were
scattered over a wide area -all that was left
of the Mont Blanc .
Photo by Fred Angus.
hear from anyone, no matter how trivial their information may
seem. He can be reached
117 Aylmer Ave., Ottawa, Ont., KIS 2X8
or by phone at 1-613-730-9239 or
by fax at 1-613-730-1696
or via electronic mail (e-mail):jscanlon@ccs.Carieton.Ca
The Sesquicentennial of the Montreal & Lachine Railroad
By Fred F. Angus
One hundred and fifty years ago the railway era came to
Montreal in the
form of an eight mile long standard gauge rail­
way connecting the city with the village
of Lachine. The date was
November 19, 1847 when the first train departed from Bonaventure
station and steamed westward to Lachine. It was a small begin­
ning, but it
was the start of a great new industrY: In the next half
century the railway system grew so much that less than forty years
later another train left Montreal
bound for the Pacific coast.
In 1947 there was a major
celebration to commemorate the cen­
of this historic event, includ­
ing the striking
of a commemorative
token and the unveiling of a large
bronze plaque at
Bonaventure station.
This year, however, there seems to
be little planned to mark the
sesquicentennial. This article is to
help rectify the
omission and to ob­
serve this important
date in the trans­
portation history of Montreal, and
indeed of all Canada.
The chief promoter of the scheme was James Ferrier (1800-
1888) who had
come from Scotland, and who was Mayor of Mon­
treal (1845 -1846),
Chancellor of McGill University, Chairman
of the Canadian Board of the Grand TlUnk Railway and, eventu­
ally, a Dominion
Senator. Application was made to the govern­
ment of the Province of Canada for a charter, and this was granted
on June 9, 1846 (9Vic. Cap. 82) incorporating the Montreal and
Lachine Rail Road
Company with a capital of 75,000 pounds cur­
equal to $300,000. Authority
was granted to build a railway from
Montreal to
Lachine wharf, and also
to operate steamboats on the St.­
rence and
Ottawa rivers.
From Montreals Turcot yard,
a lUsty, weed grown track, still used
serve adjacent factories, extends
westward to the city of Lachine. No
one looking at this unpretentious
track would realize that this is part
of one of the most historic lines in
The Montreal and Lachine
Railroad. It was not always a lUsty,
weed grown track. A century and a
half ago the world was very differ­
ent, and at that
time the M&L made
history. Let us go back to 1847 and
out about it.
Following the survey of the
route, by
John Ostell, William Casey
New York was hired to constlUct
the line. Mr. Casey had laid out the
Champlain & St. Lawrence Rail
Road, Canadas first, a decade before.
Unfortunately, on August 6, 1846,
soon after starting the
job, Mr. Casey
of tuberculosis and was buried
in Montreal.
Mr. Ferrier then asked
the Scottish engineering firm of
Kinmond, Hutton and Steele, from
whom the company had ordered two
locomotives, to send an engineer who
could take charge. Alexander Millar,
the Locomotive Superintendent of
the Dundee and Arbroath Railway
was appointed, and he arrived at
Montreal early in 1847.
This large plaque is on the building that once housed the
of the freight terminal at Bonaventure station. It
was placed there in 1947 to mark the centennial of the
Montreal and Lachine Railroad, but today
is seldom no­
ticed by those that pass
Construction began on May I
1847, and three locomotives were or­
one from Norris Brothers of
Philadelphia, and two from Kinmond Hutton and Steele in Dun­
dee Scotland. The Norris engine, probably named Lachine, ar­
rived about
November 6, 1847, while the two Scottish ones did
come until the summer of 1848. The latter two, called the
Montreal and the James Ferrier, were similar to the John
Molson, ordered for the Champlain & St. Lawrence, and deliv­
ered to that railway in 1849. Soon after the delivery
of the Norris
engine, the work on the track was
completed and the opening was
set for Friday, November 19, 1847.
From the earliest days of westward expansion the Lachine
Rapids, just west of Montreal, had been an obstacle to transpolta­
tion. Early explorers believed that the St. Lawrence river was the
gateway to the fabled Northwest Passage that would lead to the
Pacific and to China. In 1666 the explorer LaSalle established a
post which was named La Chine, this being the French name
for China. The name was also applied to the rapids beyond which
it was believed (very far beyond as it turned out) lay the Orient.
one expedition, LaSalle, having traveled thousands of miles,
lost his notes,
and almost his life, when his canoe capsized in the
rapids when
almost home. When a village was built there, in 1675,
it was named
Lachine; by this time the two words had been com­
bined into one. In 1825 the Lachine canal was built, and this was
of great benefit for freight traffic, but was slow for passenger
vessels. Consequently, during the navigation season, the two roads
Montreal and Lachine (known as the Upper and Lower
Lachine Roads) were among the busiest on the island. Much the
same situation existed as on the road from Laprairie to St. Johns
which connected Montreal with the steamboats to Lake Champlain
New York. Here the Champlain & St. Lawrence Rail Road,
Canadas first, had been built in 1836. By the 1840s there was a
demand for the same solution to be applied to the Lachine route. Finally the big day arrived and, shortly before noon, about
250 invited guests gathered at Bonaventure station. The weather
was cold and dull, but this did not
dampen the enthusiasm as the
ceremonies began. Undoubtedly much liquid refreshment was
consumed as was usual at such events. There was one note of
sadness, for an important person was missing. John Mills, the
Mayor of Montreal and a great supporter of the railway, had died
earlier that month. Mr. Mills had been
helping in person at the
immigrant sheds in Point St. Charles
where so many new arrivals
were dying
of typhus. He caught the disease there and became a
victim himself.
An amusing story concerned the reporter from
the Gazette. Evidently not very
much importance had been given
to the event until it was discovered that the
Governor General,
TOP: This map, dated 1879, shows the route of the original Montreal and Lachine Rail­
road, as well as the later Grand Trunk line. By the time this map was drawn it was six
years since the GTR had switched its gauge
to standard. However the old track layout,
from the days when the M &L and the GTR were different gauges, is plainly visible
in the parallel tracks west of St. Henry. Notice that the former M&L line is shown as
Ry. (standing for Montreal & Champlain Railway) even though it had been part of
the Grand Trunk for fifteen years! In the days of the two gauges, the Grand Trunk laid a
third rail
to allow it to come into Bonaventure station. This was, of course, removed when
the gauge was standardized
in 1873.
ABOVE: A view
of a street in Lachine in 1843, four years before the arrival of the
railway. Soon the town would be within twenty minutes
of Montreal.
RIGHT: This very rare broadside,
for the season of 1848, advertises the steamboats
British Queen and British Empire which sailed from Lachine
for Lake Ontario with
connections for points west
in Canada and the United States. The connection 10 the boats
was the reason
for the existence of the Montreal and Lachine Railroad. Notice the refer­
to the railway, and the 9:30 A.M. train from Montreal which connected with the
steamboats at Lachine. This was the first year the railway was available; befo
re that it
was necessary to take a carriage from Montreal.
River St. Lawrence and
Lake Ontario!
Montreal to Kingston, Niagara
Falls,. Buff«lo
The New UPPER CABIN Ste.mboal8
Leos Lllchine Daily, runnIng ill C ~UNlTED STATES ~IAIL STEAMERS,
On Lake Onta1w, viz :­
ONTARIO, Oapt. Throop,
OATARACT, Oapt. Van Cleve,
NIAGARA, Oapt. Chtld,
L-ADY OF THE LAKE, Oapt. Ohapman,
Touching_.t Brockville, Alexanders Bay, French
Creek, Killg.ton, Sackets Harbor, Oswego, and
~Rochester to Lewiston j meeting the
Steamboat Telegraph for Hamiltoll, and the
fOl Buffalo and Niagara FallB; passing
through the Lake of the Thousand Islands
by daylight!.,D
~ The n.IJovo hoats .·:e fiUed up ontirely with large and ruc,.
~ STATE ROOMS, and no Ol:pe1UO hOB been P.ucd in
procuring every thing DI!CC6SIUy for tho comfort or Pnssengers.
Rnil~mQ(l ems ill connection with the above Boats, leave
at BAL~-PASl NINE oclock, A. M.
TICKETS for sny.of th. ubo~e Po,,,, can b. ob­
l8lnea at tho Office, 20, McGiU·St.
(late Euglr. Hotel,) Hear Saint Paul·Slret.
A Norris 4-4-0 of 1847, similar to the Lachine of the Montreal & Lachine Railroad. Two features of this locomotive are notable, the
strange looking double connecting
rods, and the fact that the front drivers have no flanges. Both features were typical of Norris engines at
that tim
e. The Lachine was sold to the Champlain & St. Lawrence in 1848 where it became the Champlain.
Lord Elgin, would be present. It was than that the representative
of Montreals oldest newspaper discovered that he had forgotten
to bring paper and pencil, and had to borrow these items from a
rival reporter!! Thus the main article was reprinted from the Cou­
rier. However from our point
of view, the article that the Gazette
reporter wrote is more interesting, as it gives an excellent de­
of the line, whereas the Courier was mainly concerned
with the attendees, the speeches and the luncheon. Herewith we
reprint the entire Gazette article as well as that portion
of the
Courier one that is
of interest to railway historians. Both articles
in the Gazette for Monday, November 22, 1847. As al­
ways, spelling and punctuation are as originally written.
We borrow, in another column, a very copious report of
the opening of the Montreal and Lachine Railway, on Friday. We
can only add our congratulations to those of our contempormy,
on the way
in which the affair went off. A more complete report of
the speeches at the luncheon would have been given, but it was
not generally known that His Excellency would be present,
that it would be attended in the distinguished mode in which it
was. Consequently, there were no preparations for reporting; and
it was only by accident that one party connected with the press
found in his pocket some insufficient materials for making notes.
In addition to the particulars mentioned by our contem­
pO/·m}, we may state that the Railway is free from deep cuttings,
only one mile and a
half being excavated, and that but to a vel)
trifling depth. The culverts, though pretty numerous, the road be­
ing carried along a natural level, insufficiently drained,
through which brooks wind in every direction, are not large or costly, the largest being twelve feet span, and the smallest three.
This useful undertaking has been completed under the Presidency
of the Hon. J. Ferrier; the principal engineer being 1. C. Ruggles,
Esq., the superintendent
of locomotive power, Alexander Millm;
Esq., and the general duties
of Secretary to the company actively
and efficiently dischalged by our well known and respected towns­
F. Macculloch, Esq.
Our contemporary has left us little to say. The Montreal
is at the end of Bonaventure street, midway between the
St. Antoine and St. Joseph Suburbs, in which was a pestilential
swamp, but which will soon be thoroughly and completely drained.
The building is large and commodious, but,
for the present, with­
out pretension
to architectural ornament; though the construc­
of a roof so large, seventy-five feet by two hundred and fifty,
solely supported by the side walls, shows much architectural skill.
The road is planned and ready
for a double line of rails [sic],
though, except for a short distance at each extremity, but one is
yet laid down. It commences with vel) massive piling, so solidly
driven and braced, that no more
jar or tremour is felt than on
natural g
round. As the road emerges from the station, the travel­
ler has on his left the large commercial and manufacturing estab­
lishments of the Griffintown suburb, and on his right that of St.
Antoine, the Mountain, and the numerous villas which dot its sides.
The first leading object
is the elegant h the imposing mass
of the Baptist College; then the Italian palazza
villa, with its gilded
dome, of Mr. J. Doneganna, round which are
grouped along the margin of the cote the residences of Mr. Judah,
Mr. Desbarats, Mr. Attorney General Badgley, Mr. Quesnel, the
Han. Judge Roland, and several
other gentlemen, while numerous
others climb the higher grounds
On the left we have the
of Mr. Brewster and
Mr. Harrison Stephens, and the
road goes along a plain which,
if the prosperity of the town con­
tinues, will speedily be
of the
highest value
for building pur­
It now crosses the Lachine
turnpike road at
the commence­
of the Tanneries, which it
leaves to the right,
and goes
along nearly parallel to the ca­
nal on its left.
On one side lies
the Tanneries -by-the-bye we
hope the Company will make ar­
for the accommoda­
of its inhabitants, -we catch
a glance into the Glen
, in a
snug nook
of which Mr. Ramsay
perched an unpretending
COllage, and see the turnpike
road rising
up to get the level of
the cote, along along which it
continues for several miles, pass­
ing the fine farms
of Mr. Brodie,
Mr. Benny, and several other of
the very best farmers and most
entelprising citizens
in Canada.
The road itself now keeps, with
scarcely any variation
of level,
the swamp which, when drained,
as we trust
it now soon will be,
ately had there been any inter­
ruption or danger
of accident.
At this terminus the avenues
were kept by a party of the Mon­
treal police, under Capt. Wily
Mr. Jeremie, at the other by
a body
of the Lachine Canal po­
lice. both mounted and on foot.
looking exceedingly well, and.
we may
say, soldier-like. in their
new winter equipments.
ILL. until further Notk., ~ preraffl1 &0
eepttd. between MONTREI~ alld LACHIN E,
,c:ommenciug; on ,MONDAY, hf May. U (01·
lowl ;-
FIOM fol(}(NTal:.U. ( I.. lll1:.
6 lIouk, A.M. 1& OdOft, A.M.
I! I tlo do J 9 00 41.0
The article copied from the
Courier was mainly concerned
with the social
events of the
occasion, the banquet, speeches
.. so is of less interest to us.
However there were
some very
interesting comments about the
track. the motive power and the
cars. These comments are
printed below:
91 110 do 10 rt(] do
12, do P.M. i do P.M.
~l dd do , 6j do do
6, do do 11 do do
ht efnn.{o 4urhjn~. lit Hlld. indudinr 8.«rare
nO uCfedinl 00 Lbt.
Do to do nnd back the IIl!Jne dJty, ~ 6d. ~().
211d Cllttll to LQ(;hJrJlP, hi 3d, do.
D,. 1.0 elo and back the hrne ,lAY h told ,do.
3rd C 1n.~8, 10 I. nLh tIlf • Hd, lncl udlug .«rar
.. KftfcJiug 30 11t.9,
At a few minutes after
twelve oclock His Excellency
the Governor-General arrived
his carriage, and was re­
ceived on the platform by the
President and Directors
of the
Company. After he had taken his
seat the whistle gave the warn­
ing note and the train started.
In twenty-one minutes the cars
arrived at Lachine. where a
stoppage took place
for a few
minutes. until the engine was
Chlldrth untler tWf!lyf, Ilillftbl! nlmvf rattS.
N.B.–I t ill jlltnndlltl. when .rran,emellfl hIVe
ttf>ell clJrn,.,lct~d (0 lUlU mo,. frelAueut Trfilll..
Ap6 28, 1fi..a8. 51
The notice which appeared in the papers late in April 1848, an­
nouncing that the M&L would be open on May
1. This could be
to be Montreals first railway passenger timetable.
will be highly productive; and soon, by an almost imperceptible
ascent, clears
it, andfor some time goes on solid gravel, bounded
by the canal on the left, beyond which
on the rising grouW:. we
have the country residences and farm of Mr. Dow, Mr. Wlllwm
Evans, &c.; and nigh
in behind them the woods which bound the
concessions abutting on the
St. Lawrence, a fine and well culti­
vated tract
of country, on which are the properties of Messrs. B.
Gibb, Newton, Pennel; Watson, Somerville, Crawford, E. Guy, and
of our best known and respected citizens and neighbours –
about six or seven miles
of as good land as ever plough was put
into. After this the quality
of the land does not improve, nor does
its cultivation, though the lattel; we hope, will before long. Within
about a mile
of Lachine the line again crosses the turnpike road,
and, with a slight cutting, plunges into the beautifully wooded
and park-like estate of Col. Wilgress, which only needed this ad­
vantage to make it
in every respect eligible for countly residences,
and, leaving the mansion
of the Hudson Bay Company, occupzed
by Sir George Simpson,
to the left, enters the village near the
Ottawa Hotel, crosses
the road again, and opens out the view of
the broad and noble expanse of Lake St. Louis. A wharf extends
into the lake, and a terminus is
in the course of erection.
The trip itself furnished few incidents. The day was exces­
sively cold and bleak, and the phenomena, so often described on
such occasions,
of the vagaries of startled cattle, were not vis­
for this good reason, that there were no cattle in the fields.
The Company had taken the greatest care
in stationing watchers
along the whole line within sight
of each othel; who, by fiags,
signalled that all
was right, and would have arrested it immedi-detached and sent
to the head of the train. and in 20 minutes the
train was again in the Montreal terminus. The cars used were
three different denominations, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class; the fOmler
were exceedingly elegant and comfortable, being lined with cloth,
and stuffed with morocco,
in Mr. OMearas best style. The sec­
ond class were also velY well fitted
up, and might well be mis­
takenforfirst class, as they are well secured against the weather.
The third class are far superior
to anything on this continent. The
of them are got up on the English plan. the seats being
transverse and not longitudinal. The Engine,
of American manu­
is a velY powerful one -it was made at Philadelphia, by
[sic. Should be NOITisj & Co.; it weighs eighteen tons; the
of the driving wheels is five feet. its stroke twenty-two
inches, the diameter
of cylinder fifteen inches. The length of the
line is eight miles; the gauge four feet eight inches and a half; the
of rail, T rail of malleable iron, sixty-three pounds per
yard. The road was commenced on the first of May last. The maxi­
mum incline is fourteen feet per mile
for one mile only, and the
minimum six feet per mile for two miles; the rest
is dead level.
There are three miles and a
half of piling. and two and a half of
embankment. The excavation one mile and a half. and natural
half a mile. The brick building at the Terminus is two
hundred and fifty feet long and seventy-five feet wide.
We cannot
help noticing that every part
of the road appears to us to be con­
in the strongest and securest manner. Nothing could be
easier than the motion over the rails, and
the road is as smooth as
if it had been run over for months. We need not mention that the
frost, and the little snow which had fallen was much against the
The Walker drawing with the fictitious inscription. Omer Lavallee has shown that this inscription was done by John Loye between 1918 and
1942, and that the engraving does not represent the opening of the Montreal & Lachine Railroad.
Adding Insult to in
jUlY! At the time of the Montreal and Lachine R.R. centennial in 1947, M,: A.L. Sauvial, of the CNRs display depart­
ment, modified the Walker engraving
by replacing the 2-2-2 locomotive with a Norris 4-4-0. While the locomotive type is now correct, the
drawing still does not show the opening
of the M&L.
No article about the early days of the M&L would be com­
plete without some mention
of the famous (or infamous) Walker
engraving. For a long time this
chalming drawing, showing a train
hauled by a 2-2-2 locomotive, was thought to depict the opening
of the M&L; however Orner Lavallee, in Canadian Rail No. 383,
November-December 1984, has
shown that this is not the case.
The inscription saying it showed the opening has proved to have
been added by John Loye
sometime after 1918. Although it might
depict the M&L, it cannot be before
mid-l 848 when the Scottish
locomotives went into service.
These engines are believed to have
been 2-2-2s, but this is by no means certain, all that is known for
sure is that they had a single pair
of driving wheels. To compound
the confusion, the CNR, at the time
of the celebration of the M&L
centennial in 1947, created a completely phony drawing by sub­
stituting a Norris 4-4-0 for the 2-2-2! We might also note that the
drawing shows horses and cattle on the hills, yet the Gazette arti­
cle specifically mentions that no cattle were present.
The Walker
drawing is a beautiful depiction
of an early train, but it is not a
of the opening of the Montreal and Lachine Railroad.
Since the
M&L was essentially a portage railway, it did
not operate in the winter when the steamboats were out
of serv­
ice. Accordingly, soon after the official opening, the line shut down
for the winter. This must have been within a short time, since no
advertisements for the line appear in the newspapers
of the pe­
The next mention of the railway appears on April 28, 1848,
when the newspapers published a notice that the Montreal & Lachine would begin service on May
I.There were three classes
of accommodation, with one way fares being I shilling 10 112
pence (37 1/2 cents) for first class, 1 shilling 3 pence (25 cents)
for second class, and 7
112 pence (12 112 cents) for third class.
Although reduced fares were offered for first or second class same­
day return tickets, the fares were high considering the purchasing
power of money in 1848. A first class return ticket from Montreal
Lachine would be half a days wages for the average worker.
Even two third class tokens (there was no reduction for third class
return tickets) would
be a quarter days wages. 100 years later,
after the value
of money had been greatly eroded by inflation,
one could ride a street car from Montreal to Lachine for about 12
cents; this is less than the third class fare in 1848!
For an addi­
tional 3
pence (5 cents) there was a connection to Place d Armes
by the new City Omnibus Company, the fu·st city transit line in
While most M&L tickets were likely the usual paper or
cardboard type, those for third class were delightful
copper to­
of which we will have more to say in the next article. The
advertisement also showed a timetable stating that there would
be six trains a day in each direction, but adding that It is in­
tended, when arrangements have been completed, to have more
frequent trains.
The arrangements mentioned above probably referred
to the impending delivery
of the two Scottish locomotives. These
arrived, aboard the ship Hector in July, 1848, and the James
was tried out for the first time on Monday, July 31, 1848.
N umber, description and condition of Locomotive Engines owned by this Company, on the 31st December, 1858, Rod miles lUO by the same up to that date.
Driving C r d
Whe~18. y In er~.
i c9 H
————-:–~.~ ~ ~
~ ql 0 t~ ~A:
-·~fu g~ c,:! 3
~ ~. ~ ~1 i:~
. A ~ 01;1 tI~] BUILDERS NAE
No. NAME. .j
1. ~ ~ ~ ~g ~~. A»L •
j;I ;3 q,I d 4; ~ !iL
:l .e ~ ~I~ ~~
Ct. Jodie. -;::-1 G.II«/–
Laprairie ., ____ . Inside.
4 6t
! I ~t
16 20
14 20
14 20
13} 20
II I ~ .. 1800 …. .. Taunton Manufacturing Co.
.. I~ .. 11800 .• _. do
10506 72017 ( us. on freigbt.
11615 93364/n shop for repairs.
12f>837 On p.s, engertrain.
Dorchester 1
11 .. ,,116001 …. __ do
.. I ~ •..• 1600 …. .. do 21110 122314 do
4 ti}
St. LRmbert •••• _. II
St.. Helen_…. .•.. II
St. Lawrence. _. __ Out.ide. 4 5
Canada U 4 5 13 26 98
II~ I~ …. /16001…… M. W. Baldwin,Phlladolphla.
11 11 …. 1600 .. .. WiUiam Norris, do 1851
1863 3509 70180
On Fa,ham road,
13757 74183 Ready fur use.
IlT 11 ….. 2000…… do do
8H 11 …. 11200 ……….. M. W. Baldwin, do 2181 33076
4 5 15 22 139 Champlain. ___ ••. u
Montreal • _ … _.. InBide.
John Molson _ • ___ Outaid ..
4 4t 11 16 94
2 6* 14 20 109
4 4t 13 24 113
2 4~ 10 16 81
4 5, 14 20 140
4 4~ 13 24 113
2 5t 14 20 109
lUi 2 .••. 1600 _ .. ___ Kinmond & Co., Dunde •…
11 If __ .. 1600·…… Amoskeag Co., Manch •• ter.
… _.. 27066 NoL in ue.
6060 53917 Ready for us •.
Hemmingford _.0_ II
Souhe~an ____ .. _ _
New York _… … Inside.
St. Reni … _ .. __ . Outald ..
8 1~ __ .. 800 ….. _ Hinckl.y & Co., Bo,OOn .. __ _
11 It 1600 ……. Amo.keag Co., Mnnch .. ter.
10867 III us.lrt. and pass.
3400 Ready
for use.
II It 1600 .. __ .. _….. do do 7830
[n use, pass. train.
17883 Wood
Montreal._._ •• _. II lOt Ii …. 1200 .. Kinmond cit Co., Dund …… 10785 .•. __ . rn sbop,for Dew tyre!.
lOt If …. 1200 .. _. .. __ .. do do
11841 Ready for us.,
2 !4 20 109
4 14 20 140
J ames Ferrier r……. II
Caugbnnwaga …. Inside. II l!r …. 1600 .. …. Amo.keag Co., Manchester. 1853 14311 In shop,new
fir. box
(Signed) JOHN DODSWORTH, Superin.tendent MQlive Power.
The locomotives of the Montreal & Champlain Railway on December 3 J, 1858, as shown in the Keefer Report for 1858, printed in 1859.
Of interest to us here are the locomotives Champlain (originally the Lachine), James Ferrier and Montreal, which appear 7th,
15th and 14th respectively on this list. Note that there were 1110 engines named Montreal which were distinguished by being called Big
Montreal and Little Montreal. The one that concerns us
is Big Montreal. As a point of interest, locomotive John Molson was
to James Ferrier and Montreal but was delivered to the Champlain and St. Lawrence and not the M&L. Its dimensions shown
here indicate that
it was considerably larger than the new John Molson built for the Canadian Railway Museum in 1970.
These J(jnmond engines proved to be very satisfactory
and, with their big driving wheels, were fast. It
is reported that a
train hauled by one
of these locomotives; and driven by engineer
Sandy Millar, made the trip from Lachine to Montreal in nine
minutes, or an average
of more than 53 miles an hour; not bad for
1848! An account
of this feat, which presumably occurred about
August 1848,
is said to have been written by Mr. w.L. J(jnmond,
of the chief partner of the firm that built the Scottish
engines. This account was quoted by rail historian
Robert R.
Brown. It is so good that we reprint it in full:
We had three coaches on the road behind the engine. In
these were the directors of the railway company; but we enjoyed
no ve,y comfortable
day. Besides the directors there were three
United States engineers with
us on the train to see what the Scotch
engines could
do. We started and you never saw the like. The
directors were bumped
up, shoved to this side and then to the
othe!: One moment their high hats almost went through the
the next the wearer would be plumped down upon the seat and
before he could think twice about
it he would be knocked against
the side
of the cm: They bobbed around in most undignified fash­
ion. I was
in a state of great anxiety. Millar had taken the bit in
his teeth and was determined to show the directors what the Scotch
engines could
do. There was one of my Uncles managers in the
coach and he was sent with his hat through the roof, with no other
injury except a shaking
up a1Ul a broken hat. Where our engines
we would go. We had eleven minutes of this speed, and then
we were at Lachine; eight miles in eleven minutes. The directors
were jitrous. The feat achieved was extraordinary but they were
half dead with shaking andfear of an upset. They had no mindfor
more experiments of this kind. Unless we both promised to go
more slowly they would ride back to Montreal in post-chaises. which a man was sent
to hire. Well we promised enough. Sandy
Millar gave his promise -with a wink, howeve!:
He got up on the
engine, but would not allow me
to follow. He had an excuse that
he wanted plenty of room. Finally, he said with some good strong
Scotch words: These directors will find out now that this is a
Scotch engine a1Ulthat
we can go even at a quicker rate. We will
show them what we can
do, /lOW when we have them. Get up in the
third coach.
You are not coming up here. Well, without any more
ado we started,
a1Ul flew back to Montreal in nine minutes -that
is, nearly a mile a minute. If the directors were startled with the
speed shown when they went out in eleven minutes, you may be
sure they were none the less when they came back
in less time by
two minutes. The president came
to me ve,y much ruffled and told
me that he was going to fire Millar first thing
in the morning. I
said nothing because 1 could make no objection. But soon they
had recovered their breath, and their common sense came upper·
most. Most
of them, and the shareholders too, were Scotchmen.
They did not discharge Sandy Millar but asked him to become
general manager
of the road. That was his triumph and of course
ours too.
Of course such speeds were not attained in regular serv­
ice, and this demonstration was very dangerous. It is definitely
recommended that the volunteers at the Canadian Railway
Museum try this with the new John Molson! However even the
scheduled time
of twenty minutes would be hard to beat in 1997.
With the two new engines
in service, the Norris 4-4-0
Lachine became surplus, and it was sold to the Champlain &
St. Lawrence Rail Road in November, 1848. The sale price was
pounds 10 shillings currency ($7850) which is only 100
pounds ($400) less than the
M&L paid for it; this is not surprising
since the engine was almost new.
A map, dated 1879, showing the layout of the Bonaventure terminal in downtown Montreal. The passenger depot shown is the original
of 1847, and the dimensions shown on this map agree with those given in the newspapers at the time of the opening of the M&L.
of the freight depot was built in 1864 by contractor Sherman soon after the Grand Trunk began to run its trains into Bonaventure. It
is said that at least one of the original M &L English-style cars was incorporated into the terminal buildings. The passenger station shown
here was torn down
in 1887 and replaced by the impressive brick building that survived until 1952.
This is a good time to debunk another myth concerning
the M&L.
For years there had been a legend that the Lachine
had derailed and sunk in the Turcot
swamp where it was said to
remain to this day. The story arose to explain the early disappear­
of the locomotive from the M&L roster, and was perhaps
by the story of another locomotive that may have (or
may not have) sunk
in the swamp in the 1850s. However the ap­
of an identical locomotive on the C&StL at the same
time the Lachine disappears from the
M&L suggests that the
engine was sold. With the discovery,
in the National Archives, of
the record of the sale, we now know that the Champlain of the
C&StL and the Lachine
of the M&L are one and the same loco­
The Montreal & Lachine went on to bigger things. In 1847,
the same year the
M&L had opened, a company caJJed the Lake
St. Louis & Province Line Railway had been incorporated (10-11
Viet. Cap. 120) to build a railway from Lake St. Louis to the U.S.
border. By 1850, nothing had been done, but
in that year, prob­
ably at the urging
of James Ferrier, an act was passed (13-I 4 Viet.
Cap 1 12) uniting the
M&L and the LStL&PL under the name of
the Montreal and New York RaiLroad Co. By 1852, the M&NY
had built from Caughnawaga, opposite Lachine
to the border, where
it connected with the Plattsburgh & Montreal R.
R. which had
built north from Plattsburgh. With the provision of a car ferry
from Lachine to Caughnawaga, there was, by September 1852, a
connection from Montreal to Plattsburgh, and the boats on Lake
Champlain, in direct competition with the Champlain & St. Law­
rence which had been extended from St. Johns to Rouses Point
the previous year.
There then began a period
of intense competition between
M&NY and the C&St.L which tlueatened to ruin both com­
panies. They soon realized this fact and began some cooperation.
in 1857, an act was passed (20 Viet. Cap 142) amal­
gamating the C&StL and the M&NY as the Montreal and
Champlain Railroad Company. In 1859 the Grand Trunk completed the Victoria Bridge
gave it access to Monueal from the south and east, and
connected with their line to the west. They soon
sought a better
in Montreal as well as a short route to the United States.
Both these were available from the Montreal and Champlain, al­
beit with a different gauge. Eventually this resulted in the Grand
Trunk leasing the Montreal and Champlain in 1863,
and buying it
outright ten years later. In 1863 the much-desired third rail was
laid into Bonaventure station, aUowing the broad-gauge
GTR trains
to come into central Montreal. In 1864, extensive freight sheds
were built at Bonaventure station; the contractor for this
job is
believed to have been the brother
of the famous Civil War general
W.T. Sherman, who at this very time was leading the Union ar­
mies on the Atlanta campaign and the famous
march through
Georgia to the sea. The original train shed
of 1847 remained in
place until the terminal was completely rebuilt
in 1887. Also in
1864 a third rail was laid on Victoria Bridge so creating a stand­
gauge connection between the two separate portions of the
Montreal and Champlain. Because
of the difference in gauge, the
GTR operated the
M&C as a separate railway for the next ten
years, but when the GTR converted to sta
ndard gauge in 1873 the
M&C was purchased and integrated into the GTR system. How­
ever a map of 1879 shows the two lines running more or less
just as they had done in the days of the different gauges.
In 1887 the Grand TlUnk, perhaps inspired by the CPRs
new Windsor station under construction only two blocks away,
completely rebuilt Bonaventure station, the new building being
an impressive Victorian brick structure which was in use (minus
the top floor which burned in 1916) until 1948, and was demol­
ished in 1952.
The following year, 1888, a double track extension
was built from Lachine to Dorval where it connected with the
main line
of the Grand Trunk. At the same time the former M&L
was double tracked. Thereafter the line through Lachine became
the main line, and the former main line assumed a secondary role.
In fact the portion
of the old line between Lachine and Dorval,
parallel to the CPR, was abandoned
in 1936 to build a highway.
This photo, taken during the great Montrealflood in the spring of 1886, shows the passenger tenninal at Bonaventure.
In the background is the original M&L trainshed of 1847, then 39 years old. II would survive only one more year
before it was torn down to make way
for the large new Bonaventure station.
the first challenge to the former M&L, for local passen­
gers, came in 1896 when the Montreal Park & Island railway built
an electric line from Montreal to Lachine and offered frequent
service.-This line was later absorbed into Montreals
system and remained until 1958 when it was replaced by a bus
route. However the railway was now the Grand Trunks main line,
and for more than seventy years it carried GTR, and later CNR,
trains from Montreal to all points west. There was also consider­
able commuter service, using tank engines. This extended to
Vaudreuil, but was cut back to Dorval in 1955. The period from
1888 to 1961 was the golden age
of the Lachine line, as it carried
far more traffic than anyone could have dreamed of back
in 1847.
In 1943, Montreals new Central Station was opened, and
all regular long distance traffic was moved from Bonaventure to
Central. However Bonaventure was still used for commuter serv­
ice and troop t.rains; the latter were,
of course, discontinued at the
of World War II. In 1947 the centennial of the Montreal &
Lachine was celebrated, and a large bronze plaque was set up to
commemorate the event. At that time there was still passenger
service on the whole
of the former M&L except for the spur to
Lachine wharf which was abandoned at an unknown date. This
situation did not last much longer for,
in the summer of 1948, the
commuter service was abruptly switched to Central Station due
to a serious fire at Bonaventure freight terminal. This was the end
of passenger service between Montreal and St. Henry after 101
years. Bonaventure station was now unused, and in 1952 it was
torn down.
The next major change came
in 1961. For years the Lachine
line had been a bottleneck due to the numerous level crossings on
its route. Also the residents did not like the constant train traffic
tlUough their city. However the old
GTR line was gone, its place
being taken
by a highway. Finally a solution was found. An ar­
rangement was made with the CPR by which the CNR would build a new line for the CPR between Lachine and Dorval,
just to
the north
of its existing line, and would then build its new line on
the former CPR roadbed. This was done, train traffic was moved
to the new line, and at midnight on June 4, 1961 the last train
went through Lachine station which was then closed.
The exten­
sion to that line, from Lachine
to Dorval, which had been built in
1888, was then torn up and its place
is now occupied by a street.
The portion
of the.M&L between Turcot and Lachine was single­
tracked, but remains in place to serve industries.
Although Bonaventure passenger station was gone, the
freight terminal, and hence the original
M&L line to Montreal,
was still in use. This ended in 1981 when the freight terminal was
closed, the tracks were removed between Bonaventure and St.
Henry, and the area redeveloped for housing. So ended the exist­
of the first railway to enter Montreal.
Today one can still see considerable traces
of the Mon­
treal and Lachine Railroad. All westbound trains from Central
station, and freights from Turcot yard, still follow the approxi­
mate right
of way between SI. Henry and Turcot West. However,
due to extensive track relocation, one cannot
be sure where the
actual roadbed
of 1847 lies in relation to the extensive track Jay­
out. Between Montreal and SI. Henry the track
is gone, and in
most pJaces the roadbed is covered by houses. However between
Turcot West and Lachine the track
is still in place, although its
heyday is long over, and it has been reduced
to the status of an
Spill. Standing alongside this track, it takes a great deal
of imagination to recall the days when trains passed here every
few minutes, bound to innumerable destinations.
It takes even
more imagination to visualize that here was where Sandy Millar
ran the Scottish locomotive, and
its three-car train, at a speed of a
mile a minute away back in 1848. Whatever happens, the
place in history is secure, for it was here that the railway era
began on the Island
of Montreal, a hundred and fifty years ago.
The Montreal & Lachine Railroad Token
By Fred F. Angus
The token issued by the Montreal and I,achine Railroad
has been a favourite with coin collectors and railway historians
for almost a century and a half.
These big copper pieces, with a
in the middle, an early locomotive on one side and a beaver
on the other, have an attraction and fascination that is not present
in many other coins and tokens.
They are now very scarce, which
adds to their desirability, but are suffici
ently common that it is
still possible to obtain one. Despite their popularity, and the fact
that they have been collected for a very long time, there are a lot
of unanswered questions about these tokens that still puzzle nu­
Consider this situation. It is the summer
of 1848. There
are revolutions throughout Europe, but a
ll seems peaceful here.
You are in Montreal, which is still the capital of the Province of
Canada (and will be until the following spring), and have busi­
in Kingston, Canada West. Since the railway will not be open
for another eight years, you will
go by the steamboat British
Queen which sails from Lachine.
The Montreal and Lachine Rail­
road station at Bonaventure
is about a mile away, but this is not a
problem since the City Omnibus company has recently inaugu­
rated the first city transit line in Canada.
You board the omnibus
and hand the driver the five cent fare. Since there
is no Canadian
silver coinage (and there
will not be until 1858), this may be an
American half dime, or perhaps two big Bank
of Montreal penny
tokens and a couple
of habitant sous.
In a few minutes you are at Bonaventure station
in good
time for the 9:30 A.M. train to Lachine. Since the trip is short,
you decide
to go third class. You go to the ticket office, pay 25
cents (perhaps an American
quarter or a Mexican 2 reals) and
receive two big shiny copper tokens 1 3/8 inches
in diameter. You
look at them and notice that they bear on one side a picture of an
early locomotive of the Planet type of about 1830, much older
than the one that will pull your train. Sun-ounding the picture
the name of the railway. On the other side is a picture of a beaver
chomping on a tree branch, above which,
in large letters, is the
inscription THJRD CLASS. Most noticeable is the
118 inch hole
in the centre of the token. You have bought two tokens so as to
have one for the return trip, but now you think you might
keep one as a souvenir. You board the train and the conductor
come around and collects the tickets. You hand him one of your
tokens, and he places
it on a wire, so you now see why it has the
He then closes and locks the door to your English-style com­
partment and goes on to collect tickets from the passengers in the
other cars. At exactly 9:30 the train starts, and twenty minutes
later you are at Lachine wharf ready
to board your steamboat.
When the Montreal and Lachine Railroad was built it was
decided to provide three classes
of accommodation, correspond­
ing to the steamboats with which the train connected.
The fare
structure was such that the second and first class fares were dou­
ble and triple respectively that
of third class. At that time work
was being done on enlarging the Lachine Canal, and it was ex­
pected that many
of the third class passengers would be the work­
ers on this project. In addition, Indians from Caughnawaga, trav­
elling to Montreal, would likely cross the river to
Lachine and
take the train, also going third class.
The company felt that paper
or cardboard tickets would not be suitable for these people since
they would be carried around
in pockets and would get dirty and
worn out; someth
ing more durable was needed. We do not know
who thought
of the idea of metal tokens, or even when they were
ordered, but it was evidently quite early, possibly even before
railway was opened.
The concept of metal transportation tokens was quite new,
but those issued by the
M&L were not the first in Canada. As
early as 1808 the owners
of three toll bridges at the east end of the
of Montreal had issued a series of twelve tokens (four for
each bridge) for different categories
of vehicle. These bridges were
destroyed by ice the following year and the tokens are very rare.
In the 1820s tokens had been made for a Quebec City ferryboat,
and another token was issued about 1840 for a
felTY at Halifax.
However the Montreal and Lachine tokens were almost certainly
the first for a Canadian railway, and they were much larger and
more impressive than their predecessors.
From the surviving accounts we know that the M&L or­
dered the tokens from Birmingham England, and they were struck
in quite large quantities, but unfortunately we do not know how
many. No other token has these designs, so they must have been
specially engraved for
the M&L. At that time there were two ma­
jor private mints in Birmingham, Boulton & Watt, and Ralph
Heaton & Sons.
We do not know which firm minted these tokens,
but if
it was Boulton & Watt it must have been one of their last
orders for they closed
in 1848. Heatons still exists and is now
as The Mint, Birmingham Ltd. As a point of interest they
made many
of Canadas regular coins between 1871 and 1907.
In due course the tokens arrived
in Montreal and were put
into use. Considering
the wear on the surviving examples it is
evident that they were used for a
few years, but we do not know
how long. After 1850,
the name of the company would have been
obsolete (as
it was changed to Montreal & New York in that year),
this would not necessarily have meant the end of the tokens;
there are many cases of earlier issues of tokens continuing in use.
One thing that seems certain is that there was no second order of
tokens since
all those known are of the same variety.
Regardless of
how long they were used, we do know that
they were out of use by the time the Montreal & Champlain was
taken over
by the Grand Trunk. Evidently they were stored at St.
Lambert for
we are told that the balance remaining in the hands
of the cOlllpany were melted at St. Lambert in September, 1862.
The only ones
to escape the melting pot were those in the hands
the public, including some that were kept
as mementos.
The first numismatic account of these tokens
to appear
in 1869, only seven years after the melting. In that year Cana­
first coin catalogue, Coins Tokens and Medals of the Do­
minion of Canada,
by Alfred Sandham, was published. Many
coins and tokens were illustrated
by line drawings, including the
Montreal & Lachine. This illustration a
nd the corrseponding text
(with the type reset) is reproduced here. The Sandham account of
the M&L token is the best that has appeared in a Canadian coin
book d
espite the fact that it appeared 128 years ago.
The next major Canadian Coin book
was The Canadian
Coin Cabinet
by Joseph LeRoux M.D. which appeared in 1888.
It lists the M&L token as No. 600, illustrates it, and has this de­
scription: Obv.: Engine. MONTREAL & LACHINE RAILROAD
COMPANY. Rev.: Beavel; tree. THIRD CLASS. Size
21, rarity 5.
The Company had special low rates for the Indians, this token
was a
ticket for an Indian.
Most famous of all early Canadian coin books, and one
that is often still consulted,
was Illustrated History of Coins and
Tokens Relating to Canada by P.N. Breton, published in 1894.
Breton catalogues our favourite token as No. 530. He describes it
thusly: It was found that ordinCllY railway tickets were not con­
for use among the Indians and workmen on the Lachine
Canal, who formed the bulk
of the third class traveL by this road.
These tickets were
therefore importedfromBirmingham. They were
strung on a wire as they were collected by the conductOl:
balance remaining in the hands
of the Montreal and Champlain
Railway Company, were m.elted
at St. Lambert in 1862.
The three accounts agree on the most important points,
and give a good idea of
the history of the token. A new edition of
Breton appeared
in 1912, but without the description. After 1914
in Canadian tokens waned and there was no new publica­
tion until about 1950.
Most descriptions merely follow Breton or
LeRoux, and little
new is offered. The latest token catalogue does
not even list the M&L since it confines itself to official or semi­
official toke
ns intended for currency.
3. C. Obv. Locomotive. MONTREAL& LACHINE RAIL­
ROAD COMPANY. Rev. Beaver beside water, trunk of tree
with two branches in background. THIRD CLASS. These
have a round hole in centre. Plate1, Fig. 8.
When these tickets or checks were imported, this Rail­
road connected the city of Montreal and the village of Lachine,
nine miles. The principal portion of the passengers, were
the Indians and Squaws
from Caughnawaga, (on the opposite
of the St. Lawrence,) and the men employed upon the Ca­
nal then building. It became necessary to secure something
more lasting than the ordinary ticket, and accordingly a large
of these were procured from Birmingham. The Conduc­
tor carried them strung up on a piece of wire, which accounts
for the hole in centre. These are becoming scarce, as the bal­
ance remaining
in the hands of the Champlain and St. Law­
rence Railway Company were melted at SI. Lamberts, in Sep­
tember, 1862, thus leaving a comparatively small number
This description, by Alfred Sandham in 1869, is the earliest known
of the M&L token in a numismatic book. The drawing is
reproduced actual size, and the text has been reset but retains all
the original spelling
anLi punctuation. The nine miles is the dis­
tance from
the centre of Montreal and not from Bonaventure.
In 1947, as part of the centennial observations, the CNR
had a replica token struck, in both copper and silver. The replicas
are easily
distinguishable from the originals since they have the
date 1847 to the left of the locomotive, and 1947 to the right
it. They are not of as good quality as the originals, and do not
have all the fine detail. They also have phony black patina to make
them look old!
An original M&L token is of unalloyed copper, is
I 3/8 inches in diameter, has a 118 inch hole in the centre, and
weighs about 16.2 grams. This indicates that about 28 were made
per pound of copper, so they are much heavier
than the Canadian
large cents which were
80 to the pound.
Another m
ystery concerning this token is the X that is
often seen scratched on the obverse under the T of Third Class.
At first it looks like some unofficial mutilation that would reduce
the value
of the piece. However about half of all known speci­
mens of this token, including the one illustrated here, have that
X, so it must have meant something. One can make Illany guesses
as to its significance, but the true answer is still unknown.
it is estimated that about 200 of the Montreal &
achine tokens still exist. That is not many to satisfy all collec­
tors, so they must be considered very scarce, almost rare. Due to
the demand, they are quite expensive, and it would be very diffi­
cult or impossible
to get one for less than $100. In better condi­
the price is much higher, going up to $400 or even more. Yet
200 known
is quite a few, and it is still possible to find one if you
want to pay the price. Certainly this token is extremely interest­
and attractive, and it is one of the oldest relics of a Canadian
railway that one
can ever hope to own.
The Beaver Returns!
By Fred Angus
• 1 B B 1 •
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as part of its new
image, has announced that
it is adopting a new insignia which
will once again include the much loved and historical symbols,
the beaver and the shield.
So, after an absence of almost thirty
years, the beaver has returned. The new beaver has a more ag­
gressive pose than those formerly used, in keeping with the rail­
ways aggressive competition for the transportation business, and
the symbol now displays both Canadian icons for the shield bears
a maple leaf. In keeping with the historical heritage
of the CPR,
the date 1881 appears below the shield; this was the year that
the company was founded. To commemorate the return
of the
beaver, we will look at earlier symbols used by the CPR, some
with the beaver, some without, but most including a shield. For
the first twelve years there were almost
as many beavers as there
were Canadian Prime Ministers
in the same period, but about 1898
the design assumed a long-lived configuration.
The earliest insignia used
by the CPR appears to be the
above shield, fairly fancy, but without a beaver. This dates from
about 1886 and was used for approximately two years. As in all
CPR shields up to 1929, the railway name appears promi­
nently. We shall meet his shield again
for, after being unused for
more than a hundred years, it has recently been revived as the
of the Canadian American Railroad. In 1888 the shield was modified to a spade shaped design
with three points on top and, for the first time, was surmounted
by a beaver. In all cases from then on, the beaver, when
he ap­
is properly described as a crest. Too often the term crest
is erroniously used to describe the entire insignia. A true crest is
only what is atop (on the crest of) the shield, and the beaver meets
this definition.
The earliest use that the author can find of this
shield, and hence
of the beaver, is on a system timetable dated
November 19, 1888. An identical shield also appears on August
15, 1889, but the design had been changed by 1891. We may say,
with reasonable accuracy, that this beaver was used from about
1888 to 1890.
By 1891 the beaver had changed again. He now was even
more rat-like than on the 1888 insignia, and was on a shield al­
most the same as the previous one, but with smaller lettering.
This shield and beaver seem to have been unpopular and short
lived; the only example I can find is on a timetable dated Novem­
ber 30, 1891.
By 1892 the shield had assumed almost the fonn it would
keep until 1929, and the beaver had evolved considerably from its
earlier appearance. He now looked much less like a rat, and had
enough courage to turn and face the onlooker. He was still quite
small however, and did not cover the whole shield. This beaver
was more popular than the earlier ones, and lasted for about five
years. He has been noted as early as October
17, 1892, and as late
as May 30, 1897. However he was still too small to represent
truly the rapidly expanding CPR.
Sometime around 1898 the beaver finaJly grew up.
was once again looking ahead, not toward the reader, but is now
much bigger, covering the entire shield, which itself is slightly
longer. In fact his tail overlaps the upper right corner. With this
design, the insignia had finally assumed the form it would keep
for more than thirty years, the longest period for one design
in the
CPRs history. The earliest example I have found is on a timeta­
ble dated March 13, 1899, but I believe it was adopted during
1898. During the time that this beaver graced the
CPRs shield
the railway had what
is arguably its greatest era. It was then that
the West was being settled and branch lines were spreading across
the prairies.
It was also the time of World War I, the great war­
time traffic and the continued prosperity
of the 1920s. Through­
out all that time the design
of the insignia remained unchanged
until 1929 when a complete redesign saw the temporary disap­
of the beaver.
In 1929 a new shield was inaugurated; this had the words
CANADIAN PACIFIC at the top, under which was the part
the company concerned, e.g. RAILWAY LINES. Beneath this
was a circle, representing a globe, upon which was Worlds Great­
est Travel System.
The most conspicuous change was that there
was no beaver; after
41 years he had gone. By what must be sheer
coincidence, within a few months
of the disappearance of the bea­
ver, the stock market crashed, the great depression began and,
the depression was ending in 1939, World War II broke out. After
the war, thought was given to a new image so,
in 1946, the beaver
The 1946 shield
is what most of us remember. The new
beaver was more realistic
as he sat upon the shield chomping a
tree branch, and happy to be back. The wording now said Cana­
dian Pacific in script, under which was a globe saying Spans
The World. In the spring
of 1946, the biggest beaver of all ap­
peared, the big neon sign on Windsor station. This sign remained
until 1969 when it was removed and dumped on the scrap pile.
Fortunately it was rescued from this ignominious end and is now
at the Canadian Railway Museum. The 1946 beaver was also on
the new stainless steel passenger cars and the passenger diesel
This view ojslreel car 1317 on Windsor Slreet in 1956 shows the
biggest beaver
oj them all, the sign that hung on Windsor Sta­
1946 to 1969. Both sign and car are now at the Cana­
dian Railway Museum.
In 1968 CP was reorganized. The parent company became
c.P. Limited, and the various branches were known by such names
as C.p. Rail,
c.P. Ships, c.P. Hotels, etc. The unifying symbol
was the multi mark, something like a tIiangle within a circle
within a square. Gone was the beaver, the shield, and even the
well known initials CPR.
Although the multi mark later fell
into disuse, the other names continued until recently.
In fact to
the average person the initials CPR came to signify Cardio Pul­
monary Resuscitation rather than Canadian Pacific Railway!
Then in 1995 the company reorganized again. The rail­
way portion, soon to be headquartered at Calgary, received the
old name Canadian Pacific Railway and the initials CPR. It was
also said that there would be a new insignia, and we
aU wondered
it would include the beaver. In 1997 the official announcement
was made and the beaver returned. Welcome back, old friend,
weve missed you. Long may you remain
While on
the subject of the new symbol for CP lines, it is
appropriate to mention these two very attractive examples used
by lines that used to be part of the CPR. The Canadian American
Railroad uses the same shield that the
CPR used between 1886
and 1888. This
is very fitting as the CAR includes part of the
ShOit Line, between Montreal and Saint John, that was under
construction when the original symbol was
in use.
. –
./, 1~ .
The Quebec Southern symbol is new, but very distinctive
nd pleasing. It displays the Fleur de Lys, the emblem of Quebec.
The Restoration of Courtaulds No.7
By Jean-Paul Viaud
Curator, Canadian Railway Museum
Shawinigan Water and Power Company, locomotive No.1, now Cornwall No.7 at the Canadian Railway Museum, as it appeared on August
11, 1901, when it was new: Photo courtesy of Hydro-Quebec.
In 1989, Canadian Rail printed an article on some pieces
of the collection. [Note I]. One of them was an electric locomo­
tive, which was last operated by the Cornwall Street Railway un­
der road number
7. This piece of equipment has been part of our
museum collection since 1959, and on the site since 1963.
At the time
of the article, there were a lot of gaps in our
of the locomotive. She was described as built about
1900, by the Montreal Street Railway, for the Shawinigan Falls
Terminal Railway. It
was locomotive number 1 of the SFTR and
in its carreer was, at different times, equipped with a trolley pole
and pantograph.
No photograph of her, early in her carreer, had
turned up
… until recently, when a search through the archives of
Hydro-Quebec. [Note 2) for a larger publication which will be
published next year, turned up a photo
of it taken in 1901.
Several authors have written on the different companies
which, at one time or another, were the owner and / or user of the
locomotive. Not all agree on the dates, the use or the disposition
of the it, which complicates determining its history. Based on that premise, what follows
is a resume of her
The most obscure part is the Niagara period when she
in use by the Niagara, St-Catharines & Toronto Railway, be­
tween 1912 and
1931 [Note 3] (or 1932 [Note 4]). All informa­
tion on that period will be most welcome by the author, particu­
larly pictures! As such I am calling on all members
of the CRHA
who can help me in that search.
In 1899, the Shawinigan Water & Power Company was
in Montreal. From the start it was an audacious project
at the turn
of a century which saw electricity as more than a sim­
ple funny laboratory experiment. Telegraph. telephone, lighting,
and now tramways were part
of the day-to-day life in several big
North American cities. Still, the distribution
of electricity over
long distances was still a matter of trial and error.
Not very rich, this company was looking for partners and
clients. The new industries which were heavy consumer
of elec-
She was a flat, small cab, double-ended, double­
trucked locomotive
of moderate size, 27.5 tons, with
550 volt DC motors of 50 H.P. As the line was not
grounded, the locomotive was designed to use a dou­
ble-trolley system with one trolley for
power (positive)
and one for ground return (negative).
It necessitated a
double t.rolley line and was difficult to maintain and
For this reason, in 1906, it was decided to convert
the line to single trolley system.
In 1902 the Shawinigan Falls Terminal
was incorporated. The locomotive and all the equip­
ment (line,
power house etc.) was leased to this com­
pany by the S.W&P.Co. (in 1950, when CP and CN
took over the SFTR, they took also the original lease,
which has
disappeared from the archives at Hydro­
Quebec) [Note 6). Our locomotive probably took the
number 1 at this occasion, but there is no hard
evidence that she ever bore this number on her sides.
No.7 in service in Cornwall on August 15, 1945, the day World War 11 ended.
Photo by Ernie Plant. National Archives
of Canada, Merrilees Coli. PA-166503.
In 1908, a second locomotive was ordered by the
S.W& P. Co, on behalf of SFTR, from GE Canada.
Capable of operating on an AC or DC system, she was
acquired as a replacement to No. I and not a comple­
ment. Delivery date was scheduled for the
winter of
trical power (aluminum for example) were very much sought af­
It was for these companies that the electric railway was built
in Shawinigan.
Between 1899 and 1900, the
S.W& P. Co operated sev­
eral narrow-gauge steam locomotives to help in the construction
of the complex. It is known that the S.W& P. Co had a fleet of
locomotives which were numbered. Sadly there is no roster left
of that period and only an occasional photograph were we can see
of these interesting pieces of equipment (one of these photo­
graph will appear in the final publication).
In 1899 it was decided to built an electric line for switch­
ing purposes between the different industries which were
to be
established. [Note 5). The American firm Warren-Scharf Asphalt
Co. under the supervision of the overall contractor, the
Montreal based engineering firm
F. Pringle & Sons, was respon­
sible for all the work related to the electric line construction.
At first this line was only 4.5 miles long, and the electri­
fication had
to wait until 190 I, when new workers, some former
of the Montreal Street Railway, were hired. In June
1901, the electric line was officially opened (until then traffic
was by the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Northern using
steam locomotives) with the new locomotive: S.W.&.Ps first elec­
tric locotive.
She was ordered probably at the end
of 1900 to be deliv­
at Shawinigan in 1901. Until now no documentation has
been foulld on the exact order date and delivery date.
She was
built by the Montreal Street Railway using
an American design
(the Cayadutta R.R. had been using a G.E. electric locomotive
the same size and characteristics since 1894) and MSR equip­
ment: the trucks are the Montreal variant. It is very interesting
see that the MSR was experimenting at the very same time
with its first double trucks streetcars.
In 1900 MSR 638 was the first city streetcar in Montreal
with double-tlucks, one motorized. Subsequently, all trucks were
equiped with GE or WH motors and K series controls. It was
thes~ cars that the Montreal truck variant was introduced.
This definitly confirm that the
MSR was the builder of the S.W
& P. Co. locomotive. 1907-1908 since the company was looking forward to an increase
in the
number of movements [Note 7). At the same date, No. I
was retired and held in storage, probably as a back-up. As such
she never had a pantograph, which was only used by
the other
SFTR locomotives since the conversion to 6,600 volts AC in 1912
(the voltage was lowered again in 1917).
In 1912 the line was converted to AC high voltage (6,600
Being of no use, No. 1 was sold to the Niagara, St­
Cathalines & Toronto Ry. Orner Lavallee [Note 8) stipulated that
the locomotive was sold to a company
in St. Catharines, and even­
tually went to the N.St.C. &
T. Ry. He is the only one to say so,
and there are no other sources which present the same data.
John Mills has noted in his roster [Note 9J that she was
described as a flat small cab. She seems to have been rebuilt
1917. There are no other sources which describe this locomotive
in the
same way as John Mills did. The photograph dated August
11th, 1901, from Shawinigan, shows a small, flat cab. The only
known until now was the one taken in August 1945 at
Cornwall, long after the rebuilding of the locomotive. By then
she had a small steeple cab with a round top, not a flat one.
It is safe
to assume that she was really rebuilt in or around
1917 to
her present appearance. I am looking for pictures which
will show her before and after 1917, while in use by the N.St-C.
T. railway.
In 1928 she was sold to a used equipment dealer (R.W.
Marshall?) which finally sold her in 1931
or 1932 to Cornwall
Street Railway were she became second No.7.
During the years between 193111932 and 1946, she was
used for
switching purposes on the CSR system, before being
sent to the Courtaulds Canada Industries site were she remained
in use and owned by the CSR (but exclusively for Courtaulds).
The control was modified to a single controler, placed 45 degrees
askew from the normal position. WH 93-A2 60
HP 500 DC mo­
tors were now in use (and may have been added during the 1917
rebuilding). About 1958 she was badly damaged, with a broken
main frame, when she was !Un into by a loaded freight
car. She was thereupon retited from service. Finally
given to Courtaulds for disposition, she was officially
transfered to the CRHA
in 1959 before being sent to
the Canadian Railway Museum
in 1963.
The locomotive had been badly damaged in
the accident. The frame was broken and bent. In 1964,
museums volunteers, led by Peter Murphy, ar­
ranged for a welder to repair the frame, and they also
some cosmetic restoration.
Between 1963 and 1996 she was left outside,
but not ignored. She has been selected for the National
collection, and as such will play
an important part in
the permanent exhibition. Restoration began
at the
museum shop in 1996, and the locomotive was com­
pletely di
smantled in the process. All the wood (cab,
roof, floor) has been replaced with the appropriate
material. All the electrical apparatus has been
tled and examined. It will be cleaned and repaired,
with new parts where necessary. The frame has been
more thoroughly overhauled, with rusted parts cut
THIS PAGE:, Two photos of the restoration work being done on Cornwall No.7 in
the shop building at the Canadian Railway Museum.
Both photos by A.S. Walbridge.
and new ones welded in place. Much needs to be done but we
hope to be able to have her ready for 1998, with eventually
motors in running order before her 100th birthday in 200 I.
If you have any data, pictures or information etc. about this loco­
motive, please send it
to :
Jean-Paul Viaud
Canadian Railway Museum
120, St-Pierre SI.
J5A 2G9
fax: 514-638-1522
J. Fred Angus; From the Collection: Cornwall Electric Locomo­
number 7 and Ottawa Electric Railway Car Number 423 In
Canadian Rail, January-Feb!Uary 1989, pages 16-18
2. Fonds F1: Shawinigan Water & Power Co.
3. The following authors give 1931 as an acquisition date for the
locomotive by Cornwall: John Mills, Niagara,
St-Catharines & Toronto, Upper Canada
Railway Society / Ontario Electric Railway Historical Associa­
tion, Toronto, 1967. Roster on page
Andrew Panko & Peter Bowen, NS&T (Canadian National Elec­
tric Lines), Niagara DivisiOn
of the Canadian Railroad Historical
Association, St-Catharines, 1983.
Andrew A. Merrillees & O. Maus,
Niagara, St-Catharines &
Toronto Railway All-time roster
of equipment In Bulletin 19,
February 1946, Upper Canada Railway Society.
E. Miller, Electric Rail Equipment Roster, in Corn­
wall Street Railway Light &
Power Company, published as a web
http://www. I
4. The following authors give 1932 as an acquisition date for the
by the Cornwall Street Railway:
Andrew A. Merrillees & O. Maus, Niagara, St-Catharines &
Toronto Railway updated All-time roster
of equipment In News­
letter, Upper Canada Railway Society, December 1950, reprinted
in June 1983, page 7.
Fonds Andrew A. Merrillees, type-written document, roster
equipment for the Cornwall Street Railway. Author unknown,
but very probably A.A.
Men·illees. (CRHA Archives).
5. The deadline date for the delivery of electrical power by the
new plant was scheduled for July 1903 at the latest. This date
appears regularly
in the different documents consulted at Hydro­
6. Fonds
Fl, Hydro-Quebec Archives. A note in the original file
stipulates that the original document was transfered
to CN & CP.
It would be very interesting to read it, since it is described as
including maps and inventory
of equipment.
7. Fonds Fl ,contract 6266. Hydro-Quebec Archives
8. Omer Lavallee, The Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway. Type­
written manuscript for a Canadian Rail publication. Montreal,
1950. CRHA Archives
9. John Mills, Niagara, St-Catharines & Toronto, Upper Canada
Railway Society / Ontario Electric Railway Historical Associa­
tion, Toronto, 1967. Roster on page 81.
Book Review
Lines of Country: An Atlas of Railway and Waterway History in Canada By Christopher Andreae
We have just received a copy of this publication
which can only be described
Since it arrived
just before the deadline for this issue of
Canadian Rail, there is not time to do the detailed book
review that this work so richly deserves. It is a
huge book,
16 by 12 inches, containing 228 pages
of history, photo­
graphs and, above all, maps
of Canadas railway and wa­
terway systems, past and present.
The answers to many
historical questions are to be found here, especially the
of construction of just about every railway line in
Ive already used it five times, and its only been
here two days!
The maps are arranged by historical date
as well as by location, making it easy to find the informa­
tion required.
For anyone serious about the history of Canadian
railways or waterways, I have only one
comment about
this book:
BUY IT! It is quite expensive ($95 Canadian or
$75 U.S.) but worth every cent. It is published by:
Boston Mills Press, 132 Main Street
Erin Ontario, M3B
Due to our print deadline, we quote from the prepared
____ ,-,-.. __ .. -B
Christopher Andreaes Lines of Country: An At­
of Railway and Waterway History in Canada is the
of 20 years of pains laking research. It will serve as
a useful referen
ce work on transportation in Canada for
generations 10 come. A detail from one
of the maps, greatly reduced in size. The actual map is in
coloU!; with indications of which lines are active and which are abandoned.
Paul Tellier,
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian National
Whats Your Line of Country? less common term for,
whats your business?
truly historic work twenty years in the making,
Christopher Andreaes Lines of Country: An Atlas of Railway and
Waterway History
in Canada is first and foremost an atlas for
those interested
in Canadas transportation networks. The first
such work
of its kind to encompass both railway and waterway
mapping for the entire country
of Canada, it is packed with dates,
names and technical information, and is intended to help -among
others -historians, geographers and transportation planners. Yet
of Country will also appeal to the preservationist in every
railway and waterway enthusiast, for while it charts the maze
lines crisscrossing the country, it suggests ways of enjoying these
physical resources; to perhaps stop at a level crossing and ponder
where the train came from and where it
is going.
Building the Lines Reading the Lines Mapping the Lines
In his prologue Andreae outlines the evolution of rai lways
and waterways which were influenced by -and in turn exercised
influence on -the countrys other transportation modes, includ­
ing the motor vehicle, aviaton and pipelines. It
is also a brief
survey of significant issues that have affected the development of
the railways and water canals subsequently mapped in the atlas.
Section one closely examines the technology
of railway
and water canal construction, providing a sense
of scale and com­
plexity to the thin lines portraying tracks and canals on the maps.
Illustrations and drawings explain technologies not readily de­
in the text. In section two, a wealth of cartography repre­
sents the growth
of the railway and canal systems in Canada. (The
of their design illustrates the rapidity of technological
change in the publishing world. When they were first completed
in 1982, cartography relied on manuaJly scribing the lines and
laying type on plastic scribecoat film – a highly specialized craft
Although computer mapping became available
in 1990, Andreae
chose to continue manual revision of the maps for economic rea­
sons. Few,
if any atlases produced now, or in the future, can boast
of this traditional method of scribecoat mapping.) In section three,
tables containing short, synoptic histories of the companies
mapped in this atlas are provided, as well as dates of the compa­
nies amalgamaton and
name changes. Andreae also provides
complete instructions in reading all maps and tables.
Two indexes have been prepared to aid the reader. One
a plate index listing all railways and canals. The second is a the­
matic index
of the text to identify historic themes not evident to
the reader. A complete bibliography, organized into separate sec­
tions for railways and waterways, illustrates the variety
of re­
sources used by Andreae in completing this epic atlas.
What would I like to do now that this quarter century
is finished? Spend time with my family; finish a model
railway; write short articles; and develop a touring business guid­
ing people to transportation sites around the world.
Christopher Andreae
About the author
Chris Andreae is a well-respected Canadian transporta­
tion historian with a masters degree
in Museum Studies from the
of Toronto and a masters of Social Science in Indus­
trial Archaeology from the University
of Birmingham, England.
Since 1980 he has been the president
of a heritage consulting
firm, Historica Research Limited, London, Ontario, and a partner
with the Blackfriars Tour Group, London, Ontario. He
is a mem­
of the Canadian Association of Professional Heritage Con­
sultants and the Ontario Historical Society. He currently resides
in London, Ontario.
A book
of this magnitude also required the input of the
following designers:
Cartography design:
The design of the plates for this atlas
were completed
under the direction of Geoffroy 1. Matthews.
Mr. Matthewss numerous atlas projects are the award­
winning Economic Atlas
of Canada and the three-volume His­
torical Atlas
of Canada. He is now retired and Jiving in Aus­
Book design:
The design and layout of the book were com­
pleted by Mark Fram.
He has written and designed several books,
including Well Preserved (Boston Mills, 1992, 2nd edition).
He is the president of the architectural firm, Polymath &
Thaumaturge Inc. He lives in Toronto.
of Country has been funded by several sources, par­
ticularly with the assistance
of the Canadian National Railway.
Letters and Other Communications to the Editor
Mr. Peter Lacy, of Winnipeg, Man., has sent the follow­
ing very interesting letter:
I read your article
The 1879 Government Rail Contracts
in the July -August 97 Canadian Rail with great interest. At the
end you speculated as to where more
of the rail might be found.
Well, I can tell you where
some of it is, and that is: actually in use
on the Winnipeg Hydro Tramway, at Pointe du Bois, Manitoba! I
discovered this while doing research for my book on the Tram­
way. There is a great variety
of rail of extreme vintage in use; the
oldest I noticed was a piece
of Mersey Steel, dated 1875. In a
of track about 100 yards in length, and in a nearby stock­
pile, I found no less than 25 different combinations
of makers and
dates, ranging from the aforesaid Mersey Steel through Krupp to
Carnegie, 1902.
Mr. Don McQueen, of London, Ont., has pointed out the
following error
in the article on rail testing in Canada: Re CSXT
in CR #460, page 124. Chatham -Blenheim is only part of
what remains of C&O in southern Ontario. Daily way freights run
from Sarnia to Chatham via Wallaceburg and Dresden. They run
to Blenheim when needed.. Since Mr. Mc.
Queens letter, two
other members have pointed
out the same error.
Mark Gustafson, the author
of the article, says that they
indeed test all the way from Sarnia to Blenheim, as Mr.
McQueen and others have pointed out. The error is entirely the
of the editor.
Mr. Dale Wilson, 158 Adie Street, Sudbury, Ontario
P3C 2C8, phone (705) 674-8217, fax (705) 674-4049. E-mail writes the following:
Im looking for some very much out of the ordinary photos.
Would you happen to have -or know anyone who might have –
of the ill fated CPR passenger venture between Toronto,
Ottawa and Montreal
in the fall of 1965, immediately following
ending of the CN/CP pool arrangement. The Montreal-To­
ronto service was done with trains named
The Royal York and
Le Chateau Champlain, and Ive never seen pictures of them.
Any suggestions would be welcome.
Editors note: These trains only ran from late October,
I 965 to early I 966. Photos
of them must be very rare; Ive never
seen one either. Can anyone help Mr. Wilson?
Mr. David Hardman, 94 Regent Street, London, Ontario
N6A 2G4 write
It has recently come to my attention via The Keystone, the pub­
of the PR.R. Society, that the PRR [Pennsylvania Rail­
road] once sold an A3 class 0-4-0
to the NB & PEl Ry. Which
later passed to the Canadian Government Railways, which finally
turned it over to the CNR. The author says it was lettered for the
CNR, can anyone confirm this? Does anyone have any photos
this loco in any of its 3 Canadian guises, or a photo of any NB &
PEl Ry. loco so I can see how they lettered their locos (NB & PEl
number was 3, CGRy number was 1177 and
CNR number was 2,
class X2a). Many years ago a firm
in the U.S.A. imported a plas­
tic model
of a PRR A3 0-4-0; I am looking to buy a couple of
these models. No motor required as a smaller motor must be in­
stalled to permit cab sides to be reduced to scale.
Robin Brass Studio, 10 Blantyne Ave., Scarborough, On­
MIN 2R4 write:
We shall soon
be publishing Wreck! Canadas Worst Railway
Accidents by Hugh Halliday. I enclose an information sheet. Does
your publication do book reviews, and
if so would you be inter­
ested in reviewing this book? [yes to both questions. Ed.]. Your
readers may be interested to know the book is coming
out later
this month. It will cost $18.95.
Via and Amtrak are coupling their rail systems through a
new North American pass starting next year. This proposal is bound
to appeal to European travellers, giving them an equivalent
of the
Eurail pass, a favourite
of North Americans. While the Canadian
and American passenger systems will retain existing pass pro­
grams, the new North American Rail Pass will cover 900 desti­
nations and 45,000 kilometres
of rail travel. It will cost $895 (Ca­
nadian) for a 30-day period during peak season, and $625 in off­
Thats for economy class; upgrades are available. Final
restrictions will be announced when it
is introduced in January.
The pass will be available to North Americans as well as visitors.
Mr. Ray Corley has sent us considerable data on the vari­
ous numberings used by the Great Western Railway
of Canada
between 1855 and 1882. This
COITects and augments the informa­
tion printed in the July -August 1997 issue (No. 459)
of Canadian
Rail. It
is hoped to print this data some time during 1998.
BACK COVER: On September 201997, White Pass and Yukon shovel-nose diesels 90 and 91, and their train of hundred year old cars, crest the White
Pass and enter Canada; the flags are at the international bordel: The occasion was a three day spectacular which is said to be the first railfans
excursion. ever held on the White Pass.-Thefirst
car in the train was buill in 1898, the others in 1889, nine years before the railway itself. Next year
will mark
the centennial of the Klondike gold rush of 1 898 and the start of constiuction of the railway. Photos by Fred Angus.
Canadian Rail
120, rue St-Pierre, St. Constant, Quebec
Canada J5A 2G9
Postmaster: if undelivered within
10 days retum to sender, postage guaranteed.

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