rom twelve midnight to 08:00 hours, when the
third trick ends, ~ are the operator at
Vaudreuil, Quebec, ml.le 18.9 from Montreals
Montreal West on the Winchester Subdivision
of CP RAIL. On the double-track main line west
to Smiths Falls and Glen Tay, RO (Vaudreuil)
is also the junction with the M&O (Montreal and
Ottawa) Subdivision. Theres seldom a dull moment~
As you come on shift, theres hardly time to exchange greetings
with the second-trick man before the stacatto bark of two approach
ing DRF 36s cuts through the frosty silence of the November night
and third-trick action at RO begins. Signing the transfer hastily,
you grab the order hoops from their hooks and hurry out the door to
assume the traditional and time-honored position, the classic po
sition of night operator hooping up the orders for the limited ,
as first 949 s headlight blazes through the falling snow. The hogger
acknowledges your highball with two shorts on the horn and about 120
cars later -after hooping up the van -the all black signals are
exchanged with the rear-end brakeman.
BacK into the office to the train-register and the dispatchers
OS Vaudreuil .•.••.••.•.••.•••.••••••
(A rasping mumble .••••••••••••..•• )
Extra 4707 west by at -oh, lets say -nought nought fifteen .. A
Yeah, O.K. Heres a Y west copy a bunch.
This from the dispatcher at Smiths Falls, Ontario, on the west
end of the subdivision.
In case the dialect of the foregoing dialogue is not understood,
OS is a simple, short way of saying the train went by here, fol
lowed by the time of its passing. The abbreviation originated from
the idea of a train being on schedule or, as is sometimes said, on
the dispatchers sheet, the latter that sometimes large form where
on are recorded the times of all train movements, delays, and so on,
in his territory.
Y is an abbreviated term that the dispatcher uses when he
wants an operator to copy a specified number of 19Y train orders.
The Y stands for yellow and means that the train for which the
order is intended does not have to stop at the train-order office
for it, but may pick it up on the fly, or while the train is in
motion. But woe betide the operator who fails to hoop up the order
A …. ALL TALKING AT ONCE, OBVIOUSLY UNIMPRESSED ••• , THE CREW OF PLOW
,..-, Extra 8758 West, stood on the snowy platform at RO -Vaudreuil, Que.,
waiting for orders. This months cover illustrates one facet of opera
tion at RO during an 8-hour shift. Photography by S.J.Smaill.
~ ROARING AND RUMBLING, AMID A CLOUD OF CRYSTALLINE SNOW, EXTRA 4091 WEST
thunders by the station at Dorval, Quebec, with a bing-bang lashup of
road and hoods, whirling the cold journals west along the Lakeshore
in the direction of Vaudreuil and St-Lazare Hill on a cold February
. Q }.
. ~.. .
. R A I L
successfully. If he fails, the train m~st then come to a stop to ob
tain the essential train-order. The r~sults of bringing a 120-car
train to a stop -to the opeiator, that is -cah best be left to
The other form of train-order used by Canadian railways is a
19R order. This is used when the running of a train is being re
stricted at the issuing station, as in the case of certain mainten
ance-of-way operations, extra-train movements, or when passenger
train operation is modified in territory not protected by block-
signals or theequivdlent thereof.
Anyway, back to the desk at RO.
SDY west, you say, reaching for the lever that will change
the station order-board (semaphore) to a yellow indication for west
bound trains, while over the phone-speaker comes that familiar
drone of a,lengthy wide-load order, being transmitted.
Extra 4087 -eff-oh-you-are, en-oh-you-gee-aich-tee, ee-eye
gee-aich-tee, ess-ee-vee-ee-en -east -ee-ay-ess-tee -ordered to
leave Smiths Falls ….•…… : and so on and on and on.
The di~patcher puts out this order to Vaudreuil (you), Walkley
Yard (Ottawa), Smiths Falls, ,St.,Luc (Montreal) and Windsor Station
(Montreal). The reason for this replication is that all possible pre
caution~ must be token to ensure that this wid~load is protected,
especially in double-track territory, from all opposing trains or
those moving in the some direction on adjacent tracks. Trains re-
ceiving this order will pass Extra 4087 east with great care, as
the extreme width of the shipment could foul on opposing train,thus
causing a side-swipe, particularly in the event that the opposing
train also had an oversizej load. In addition, on opposing train
might pass Extra 4087 east on a curve where there was a re~tricted
clearance, although this possibility is normally avoided by on or
der or orders supplementary to the original 19Y.
………… Complete at nought nought forty two. L.B.C.,
ones the dispatcher. All right .. Your next guy is second 949 s
eight with the 5001 leading and, right behind him, 931 with
With this porting intelligence, the dispatchers phone
dead, leaving you in peace ~ for the moment. You begin setting
clearances for second 949 and 931.
The Winchester Subdivision on which RO is located is dispatched
using a combination of train orders and block-signal system. As
there are automatic block-signals (ABS) from Dorval (mile 4.8) thr
ough to Smiths Falls (mile 123.8) where the double-track subdivision
ends and crews change, no authority train orders are required.
Trains leaving St.Luc Yard, Windsor Station and Smiths Falls are
usually given clearance with bulletin orders -those relating to
track conditions, status of sidings on the subdivision (full or
empty), maintenance-of-way work and other temporary situations.
Because the Winchester Sub. is double-tracked all the way, the
aforementioned wide-load orders are issued quite frequently.
~THE CP RAIL STATION AT VAUDREUIL (DORION) QUEBEC IS OF STANDARD CAN
adian Pacific Railway design and of wooden construction. It resem
bles many other CP RAIL stations all across Canada. Kenneth R. Gos
lett photographed it on February 11, 1973.
fllST CLASS :
245 273 243 271 1 293 263 281 241
Pauengar Pauenger Pauengef Pessenge, Passenger Passenger Passenger Passllnrer • Panengar
Dallv Dally Dally Dally Dally Sun. only Daily Sat. only Dally
8x.Sal. ax. Sal. ex.Sat ex. Sun. ex. Sat.
and Sun. and Sun. and Sun. end Sun. i
1719 1715 1640 1610 1355 1215 1215 0940 0733 …. ·
1725 1721 81646 8161581401 81221 81221 8094580738
1731 1728 81653 81620 1407 81226812268095080744 0.0
1734 1731 1656 1623 1410 1229 1229 0953 0748 2.2
81658 81624 81231 81231 F0954 F0749 2.9
1736 1733 81700 81626 1411 8123381233 F0955 F0751 l.l
i73iii735 Si703Si629*i4i3 Si236Si236F0957F07547a
8 1 707 81 632 …. 8123981239 F0959 F0756 6.0
81709 81635 81241 81241 Fl00l F0758 6.7
81745 ………. 81712 81637 ………. 8124381243 Fl003 F0801 7.l
81747== 81714 S1640== 81245 S1245 Fl005 F080379
61753.. S1717 S1642. S1247 81247 Fl007 F0805 0.7
…… S1743 S1719 S1645. S1249 S1249 Fl009 F0807 9.2
………. S1745 81722 S1647 1419 81251 81251 Fl0ll F0809 10.2
== S1751 81725 S1651 == 81255si2s5 Fl014 F081312.i
61802 S1729 F1655. F1259 F1259 Fl017 F0816 11.0
1806 S1800 S1732 81658 1424 81302813028102080819 15.6
Fl 304 Fl 304 ……
………. .. …….. ………. ………. …. …… ………. ….. ….. 92.0
i~~ ~ ~~ ========87.9
R A I L
…. MONTREAL .••. KWZ WJ Yard
.~ …. WESTMOUNT … VXY … Nil
~ ~ V.MONTR11r.WEBT …. XBN Nil
~ ……. SOJ.T~ ………….. Yard
~ …. BALL&~ ….•. X … Yard
11 i …. LAOHlNE. •…. XY … Nil
~ ~ ….. OROvOEku. ….. XY … Nil
M ~ ••••••. DOttVAL ……… X OR Nii
Jet. with C.N.R.
…… PINE BEAOH ………..• Nil
.. STRATHMORE ….•… Nil
Nil ….. VALOIS …
——:-:-::0. 6-6 —-1·-
…. LAKESIDE …………. Nil
….. OI!IDAR PARK ..•…….. Nil
.. POINTE! OLAIRE…….. Nil
BEAOO~i~FIELD …. PX B 47
…. BE!AUREPAIRE. Nil
…. BAIE DURFE… . .. Nil
V ……. STE.1JlNES ….. PVXAD 20
~ …….. BRp~Y ………. .
• ……… ILE PERROT ………… Nil
g V ……. VAurl!ikm,.PVWXYRO Nil
~ Jet. with ~: 8& O. Sub.
~ ……… ST. LAZARE …….. P Nil
I v ……… ST. beET …… PYX. 71
~ V ……. DEB~f.nnu …… PX. Nil
I ……… SOULANOEB …. PYX … Nil
.a Jct. with c~~7wall Sub.
~ V …. DALHOUSIE MlLLB .. VX. Nil
.! ……. OREENoVFI1JY …. PX. 43
V ……. APPLEHlLL …… PV … Nil
V ……. MONKLAND …… YX … 72
……… AVONMORE …… PX … 43
………… ~ck ……… PX … 43
V ….. 0000tirrlVn.LIlI … PYX CH 71
~–===5. 9,9 .,.,.-=—==1-1-
V ……. WINOHESTER …. PVX … 43
……… MOUNTAIN ..
………. ………. ………. ………. ………. .. ………….. IOl.2 V ……… BEDlIILL ……. PYX … 93
Jct. with PClcolt Sub.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ == == == == Ii4.9 ……. MERRlbJ.::vILLE=:-.-.. -.-=.X=I-.. -.I-cNccll
V.SMrrBS FA.tr?S.OKVWXYZ MF Yard
c=== == ==== ====== == ~I _____________ I_
I Dally Dally Dally Dally Dally Sun. only Dally Sal. only Dally
~ffi ~ffi ~ffi a_ affi
lind Sun. end Sun. and Sun. and Sun.
245 273 243 271 1 293 263 281 241
TIMES SHOWN BELOW FOR INFORMATION ONLY
No. 905 Ballantyne
No. 55 Ballantyne
No. 82 Walkley Yard
No. 84 Walkley Yard 1830 Smiths Falls 2155
1200 Soulanges 1250 Cornwall 1400
0215 Bedell 0305
Smiths Falls 0345
2135 Bedell 2225
Smiths Falls 2300
WINCHESTER SUBDIVISION FOOTNOTES-PAGES 10 and 11
R A I L
The third type of train order, used quite often in this kind of
territory, is the form R -against traffic -order. As there is
no way to protect a train and monitor its operation constantly in
non-CTC territory -the situation on the Winchester Sub. -if a
train is to run west on the eastward track, an order must be is
sued to permit this wrong-way running. This sutiation will arise
during the (your) third trick, so be on the watch for it.
The approach bell sounds as second 949 hits the block and, with
boots, jacket, cap and two order hoops -with orders -you hustle
outside to the appropriate position on the platform, taking care to
be ready with second 949 s orders first and 931 s -right on his
block -second. No mixups~
The wind has picked up considerably and the snow is beginning
to drift in places.
From a faint murmur to a louder rumble to a heightening roai
and, as the wind dies, suddenly the basso-ostinato chant of GM645
engines fills the night. An eastbound container-express roars by on
the adjacent Government road (CNR), the snow whirling and sw
irling around the long string of piggyback trailers and boxes on
flats, terminated by two red eyes that rapidly disappear into the
First hoop up and second 949 roars by, her five units shaking
the platform, blasting against a full pin -all the tonnage they
can handle up the long, steadily-rising gradient of St-Lazare Hill.
Second hoop up and the van disappears. All black~
A westbound CN merchandiser bellows by, noisy, even in the snug
operators office, as you OS second 949. 931 wont be long. A glance
at the line-up in the register book: Train ~, the Canadian, is
listed about five-and-a-half hours late, which should put her by RO
right about ••• NOW~ The block approach bell from the M&O (Ottawa)
double-rings with the east block for the hotshot piggyback 931 west
for Toronto. Things sure are picking up~
••.••• Vaudreuil ••• Number 2 and 931 are both coming •••••
Problem: Number 2, coming off the M&O, has to cross over the
westbound main to reach the eastbound track. Do you slow 931 to let
2 cross over? After all, its the Companys premier train, already
late. Or do you hold Number 2 and let Number 931 come on through ,
keeping its speed for St-Lazare Hill?
The dispatcher makes the decision.
Dammit, clear 2 but let 931 go first. Hes heavy tonight. Hes
got small units, so dont stop him.
Particularly not at the bottom of St-Lazare Hill.
Seconds later, 931 rockets by in a blizzard of flying snow. It
is almost impossible to see anything, as he makes a determined run
for the hill. Train 2 cools its wheels at the block to the west,im
patiently waiting for the red-over-green-over-red. As 931 s van flies
by over the switches and clears the block, the middle red changes to
green and, presently, a pair of garbage-can-headlighted GP 9s lead
the Pride of the Fleet through the crossover to the eastbound main,
past the station. The fireman, grabbing a bite to eat, slings the
hoop, as the geeps whine eastward on the last lap of the trains long
Back inside to the phone.
CANADIAN 332 R A I L
. ~ · ~ · WI i
I if: !
333 R A I L
Extra 4096 west by at nought one thirty and Number 2, with the
8515, 8507 and ten cars at nought one forty five.
All right, Vaudreuil. Hows your weather? queries the
You tell him that the snow is starting to drift and the
perature is dropping. This pleases him no end, as the prospect
stiff grease in axle boxes and pulled drawbars crosses his mind
For a moment, it seems, you will have time to have something to
eat and a brief period to relax. 931 and 2 are on their ways. A
grain drag howls through the snow on the competitions line, inter
rupting the cold silence of the night with its passing. Quiet re
turns, broken only by the methodical off-beat ticking of the Seth
Thomas clock on the wall. The silence is, indeed, golden.
Then it is abruptly shattered. The clang of the approach cir-
cuit bell to the west alerts you to the advent of 904, a freight,
coming at you down St-Lazare Hill.
East man coming, dispatcher ••••••••••••••••••••••
Thats 904 s train, extra 4042 east. Let him go~ says the DS.
No orders. He got them at Smiths Falls.
Out the door to look him over, as the headlight of the blunt
nosed ALCO cuts through the gently falling snow. Surprisingly, the
storm seems to be letting up a little. 904 roars and rattles by,all
black. You hurry back inside to OS the freight. St. Luc comes on
the line to OS first 915, westbound manifest to Toronto with cars
for the U.S. connections at Windsor, Ontario and the Detroit gate-
Well, hell be here in about 20 minutes, you say to yoursel f,
making up his clearance. Half-an-hour later, the dispatcher comes
on the phone, looking for him. So are you.
Ill see if I can get him on the radio, you tell him. Hang
on .•••• II
Pick up the radio hand-set. Button to SEND.
Operator Vaudreuil calling extra four nought six five west •••
come in please ••. over ••••
Yeah, this is the forty sixty five, snaps a disgruntled-
sounding voice, that of the hogger.
Where are you at?
Were just coming at Ste-Annes and the lead unit has just
on us, so youd better tell the dispatcher to get another unit
here damned quick or else well have to leave half the train
Vaud reu il ••• over.
Wonderful~ Just dandy~
The dispatcher feels about the same way. With variations. A more
emphatic and colourful description, with a few interpolations,
comments on certain types of motive power. And presently, first 915
limps past the station and dies, shortly thereafter. Hogger, fire-
+ PHILIP MASON DID THIS PEN-AND-INK SKETCH OF THE INTERIOR OF RO VAU
dreuil Station. Many familiar pieces of operating equipment are vis
ible: train radio, track-circuit board, telephones, ,oil lamps and
lanterns and well-padded swivle-chair. The Seth Thomas clock is absent.
CPR EXTRA 4715 EAST AT VAUDREUIL, QUE., MEETING PLOW EXTRA 8758
West on the double-tracked Winchester Subdivision. In the background,
Number 1, the CANADIAN, disappears to the west on the M & 0 Subdivis-
ion. January 10, 1971. Photo by S.J.Smaill.
AT RO , OPERATOR J.A.QUINTIN HOOPS UP 19Y ORDERS TO CP RAIL TRAIN 1,
the Canadian before she heads west on thE:: M&O Subdivision to Ottawa
and the West. Train-order signal is at clear, since it applies only
to trains on Winchester Sub. Date is February 6,1972. Photo S.J.Smaill.
man and head-end brakeman all unload and stomp back into the
tion, all talking at once and all obviously unhappy.
Wouldnt be so bad if we were getting paid for this, ya know,
but this aint even a pay-point~ complains the fireman. Just as
though the whole, sorry performance -or lack of it -were your
fault. You reassure them that a replacement unit is on its way and
will arrive almost immediately. They calm down somewhat and all go back
outside to cut off the dead A unit, to park it in the yard
to the west of the station.
The dispatchers phone hums to life.
Copy three east, RO. St. Luc, copy five west , it yaps, as
the dispatcher puts out a form R to let the replacement unit run
light from St. Luc west on the eastward main line, since 951 ~s
effectively blocking all westward main line movements.
915 s head-end crew returns to the warmth of the station, hav
ing disposed of the dead A unit, and dig into their lunch-buckets
while they wait for the replacement to arrive. The minutes begin
Vaudreuil •. any sign of that engine yet? rasps the DS in ex
Simultaneously, the light engine rings the block-bell to the
east -and 928 hits the one to the west. More complications. Engine
R A I L
8903 rumbles by the station on the eastbound main and grinds throu
gh the crossover to the westbound, some distance beyond the station.
OS Vaudreuil •.. engine 8903 arrived at nought six ten and 928
is on the way down .•.
O.K … Copy one, bust that right over and let him go,snaps
You annul 8903 s right to operate west on the eastbound main,
so that 928 east can run through to St. Luc. While the head-end
crew are coupling the 8903 to 915, 928 burbles by, heading into the
first pale light of daybreak, painting the sky to the east. The
snow has stopped and it is bitterly cold. The mist rises in wispy
streamers from the Ottawa River, just east of the station.
Hell, Vaudreuil, what are those guys doing? explodes the dis
patcher. If he doesnt get a move on soon, hes going to stab that
wide load, which otta be down around St-Clet right now.
Just as though the whole thing were your fault~
In anticipation of the DS s next threat, the deep-throated
roar of opposed-pistons announces that first 915 is about to move –
again. DrawbaTs clang, slack springs complain, journal-box grease
slips unctiously and the ground trembles as you pass up the hoop
with the wide-load orders for extra 8903 west. The Sunday morning
silence r0verberates with the roar and rumble of westbound tonnage
drumming and grinding up St-Lazare Hill.
Another OS, and a glance at the clock. Ten minutes more
just about do it. The day-man and the day, man, are here~
Making out the transfer takes a minute. Exchange a few words.
Wide-load is coming but thats his problem. Now home, some food
and then to bed. Not a bad night, after all. Oh yes~ Dead unit in
the yard, but someone else will rescue it.
For the last time on this trick, on with boots, jacket, hat
and gloves and out onto the platform, while the competitions over
night sleeper from Toronto scurries east to the Big City.
For you, the day ends. For others, another day begins.
~I_SUMMER TIME SUNNY TIME~ THE CHILL WINDS OF WINTER LONG FORGOTTEN, ON
T the Peoples Railroad, Freight 307 comes rumbling down Vaudreuil
Hill, heading for Montreal behind SD 40s Numbers 5024 & 5223 in notch
8. Pierre Patenaude caught them on 14 July 1973.
The First Railway Era: 1850 -1880
John Beswarick Thompson
(Editors note: The first part of Mr. Thompsons article
appeared in the August 1973 issue (Number 259) af CAN
The Lines af the 1850s.
In 1850, when the United States could boast af having almost
9,000 miles of railroad track, British Narth America cauld claim only
a paltry 66 miles. But by 1860, over 2,000 miles had been added to
this figure in a decade of spectacular railway development. When it
was over, it was clear that most of the work had been done hurried
ly and badly. Nowhere was this more abvious than in the permanent
ways of the new Canadian railways.
Slip-shod work might have been anticipated on some of the
short local lines which linked towns like Cobourg and Peterborough,
Ontario, or Carillon and Grenville, Quebec. My intention, wrote a
civil engineer about such a line, the By town and Prescott Railway,
is to make the cheapest possible kind of road.(18) To these
poorly financed companies, frugality or downright miserliness was a
virtue; quality was something to be considered later.
It is more surprising to find that the major railways were
also built in a second-rate fashion. The three longest lines in Can
ada V/est, the Ontario of today, the Northern Railway, the Buff,..lo,
Brantford and Goderich and the Great Western Railway (Canada), in
vying for the dubious honour of being the first to offer service in
this region, rushed construction and neglected to ballast their
tracks. The Northern Railway won the race in 1853, but suffered se
vere~y from a jerry-built permanent way and poor rails for the rest
of the decode, the direct result of scamping by the United States
contractor, Storey and Company. Finally, in 1859, the railway com
pany decided that works of restoration were necessary and began
to rebuild the whole line from one end to the other, under the care
ful supervision of Sandford Fleming, the well-known Canadian civil
engineer. This was the price the Northern had to pay for being the
The Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich jubilantly celebrated
its partial completion from Fort Erie to Brantford in January 1854,
but two years later it was forced to suspend service altogether with
the admission that II from the state in which the Road was, very
great danger was incurred by Parties travelling over it and it was
not a safe Road to travel.~ 19)
CANADIAN 338 R A I L
The Great Western was equally unsafe, but it never sus-
pended service. Between the beginning af operation and 1 November,
1854 – a period of less than 12 months -17 accidents involving a
loss of life occurred. After the most serious of these accidents,
when 52 passengers were killed neor Chatham, the Government appoint
ed two commissioners, W.F.Coffin and M.C.Cameron, to undertake an
investigation of the line. A Chatham newspaper, with rather grim
wit, reflected the low esteem in which the Railway was held by the
public, when it noted the accidents on this line have become of
such frequent occurrence that even Mr. Cameron, the government com
missioner, declines to travel upon it without his coffin.(20) The
report of the commissioners, subsequently rendered, was highly cri
tical of the deplorable state of the Great Western:
At the opening of the road, the embankments
and cuttings were in a dangerous state; the
ties and sleepers were laid without the stay
or support of grovel on the surfoce; the
road-crossings and cattle-guards were un-
finished .•• Neither grading nor superstructure
were in a fit state to hazard the prosecution
of traffic in the face of the contingencies
of the coming winter and spring in this cli
mate and country.(21)
In due course, the Great Western, forced by public opinion and
governmental pressure, bolstered its rails with ballast and impro
ved its cuttings and road-crossings. But no sooner had this work be
en completed than the rails of the railway began tO,weor out~
Three different types of rail had been used in the construction
of the Great Western. Thirty-four miles had been built with T-rail,
joined by fish-plates, the kind used by most United States rail
roads. Thirty-eight miles of compound rails had been laid and, fin
ally, 156 miles -the largest portion of the line -had been con
structed with bridge-rail fastened at the joints by wrought-iron
plates, on which the ends of the rails rested and which were spiked
to the cross-ties and bolted together. (22)
If the multiplicity of rail types was intended as an experiment,
operations during the 1850s proved beyond argument that the best rail
was the T-rail. Unfortunately for the Great Western, there was less
of it on their line than any other kind. By 1860, the Company having
suffered severely from bad rails,(23) had replaced 82 miles of
bridge and compound rail with T-rail. Experience was a great and
The Omnipotent Grand Trunk.
Of all the railways built in Canada during the first roilway
era, the one that should have been most soundly built was the Grand
Trunk Raillvay, a line promoted to be superior to any American ot
Conadian railway •.• ond equal to a first class English rai!way.(24)
Once it was in operation, the Grand Trunk made a parody of its pros
Certainly, the heavily travelled Montreal-Toronto main line
was far from being first class. From the outset, there was a sus
picion of corruption surrounding its construction. The Chief Engin
eer, A.M. Ross, planned to have inspecting engineers for every 60 to
70 miles. This practice wos quickly labelled humbug by a Canadian
engineer, Walter Shanley, who charged
CANADIAN 343 R A I L
_1_ THE PLAQUE UNDER THE SECTION OF SCOTTISH U-RAIL IS SELF-EXPLANATORY.
The picture was taken by Ken Papineau.
I.J THE SIDE-VIEW OF THE SAME SECTION OF RAIL SHOHS THE PECULIAR CONTOUR
I~ of the rail and the fissures in the wrought-iron rail. Photo K.Papineau.
CANADIAN 345 R A I L
rail. According to the Superintending Engineer of the Grand Trunk,
the form of the new re-rolled rail is that of a high T-rail with
fish holes; it is joined to its neighbours by means of a pair of
fish plates and four bolts.(33)
In other words, it looked somewhat like the rail that is used
today. Yankee ingenuity had triumphed over British practice,but the
real significance of that triumph was unperceived.
The track renewal continued throughout the early 1860s and,al
though rail breakage was gradually reduced, it was by no means elim
inated. The notation train off track in consequence of broken rail
was frequently recorded in a Grand Trunk Railway report of accidents
in 1864, which listed at least eight serious mishaps, involving in
jury, due to faulty track. The lingering problem was blamed on poor
quality iron T-rails imported from Britain in the 1860s. G.L. Reid,
the highly respected chief engineer of the Great Western Railway of
Canada, commented in 1867 that, during the previous six or seven
years, frequently it has happened that rails sent out from England
have proved very inferior in quality.(34) To Canadian civil en
gineers, it must have seemed that every advance toward an improved
permanent way was marked by only partial success and complete frus
Finally, there occurred the revolutionary development in the
treatment of iron which ended the frustrating search for a satisfac
tory rail. The Bessemer process for producing steel from iron made
the manufacture of relatively cheap steel T-rails commercially feas
ible. The Grand Trunk was among the first railways on the North Am
erican continent to experiment with the new rails, placing a trial
order for them in 1865.(35)
The Company reported in 1869 that the ~urability of the steel
rails far exceeded that of the best iron rails and, most important
to a Canadian railway, extreme low temperatures, as much as 30 de
grees below zero Farenheit, did not injuriously affect them.(36)
Although much impressed by the apparent advantages of steel rails,
the Grand Trunk delayed total conversion because the high initial
capital cost would add to the Companys already heavy financial
burden. Reluctantly, it continued to use iron rail throughout the
Elsewhere in Canada, the Great Western, following the advice of
Chief Engineer G.L.Reid, took the lead in converting its track to
steel. First laid in 1869, the new steel rails immediately proved
to be a great improvement ••• very satisfactory, and in 1872, the
Company was lavish in its praise:
New heavy steel track has enabled the Traffic
Department to conduct the heaviest half-years
business in the history of the railway, with
despatch and freedom from casualties and has
diminished wear and tear on the engines and
At length, in 1871, following the practice established by the
rival Great Western, the Grand Trunk began steeling its rails.(38)
The conversion was, by necessity, a slow process. As late as 1886,
the Chief Engineers report shawed over 100 miles of iron rails still
in use. But as each section was changed to steel rails, the benefits
became more and more apparent. Decreased rail breakage meant safe
and dependable service. Increased roil strength meant that heavier
and stronger locomotives could be used to power longer freight trains
and faster passenger trains. The average Grand Trunk locomotive in
1857 weighed 25 tons and took 15 hours to haul the Through Express
CANADIAN 346 R A I L
from Montreal to Toronto. By 1884, the weight of express locomotives
had doubled and the time for the same trip had been reduced to only
A century has passed since the introduction of steel rails on
Canadas railways. In that time, there have been many improvements
in the permanent way: harder steel, heavier track, stronger joints,
standardized designs, but no radical changes. The sight of steel
T-rails on wooden ties, disappearing in the distance, is as famil
iar today as it was to those pioneer railwaymen who drove the Great
Western trains to Windsor, Ontario or the Canadian Pacific construc
tion specials to the end of steel at Port Moody, British Columbia.
By the beginning of the 1870s, a century ago, the time of trial
and error had ended. The railways of Canada were finally on the
Po rt II
18. DAYLIGHT THROUGH THE MOUNTAIN: Letters and Labours of Civil
Engineers Walter and Francis Shanly; Walker, F.N. & Walker,
G.C.; Engineering Institute of Canada, Toronto, 1957; p. 200.
19. TESTIMONY OF JOHN GALT,President, Buffalo, Brantford and God
erich Railway – 1 April 1856; JLA, 1856, Appendix 13.
20. THE EARLY YEARS OF THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY: 1833-1857;
Smith, Russell D., Ontario History, Volume LX, No.4, December
1968, p. 220.
21. Ibid., pp. 200-1 .
22. THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY OF CANADA; Spriggs, W.M.; Bulletin of
The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Boston, Mass.,U.S.A.;
No. 51 (1940), pp. 19-20.
23. Ibid., p. 19 .
24. A HISTORY OF THE GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY OF CANADA COMPILED FROM
PUBLIC DOCUMENTS; Brown, Thomas Storrow; p. 12
25. Walker, p. 271.
26. Ibid., p. 320.
27. Brown, Thomas Storrow; p. 34 •
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE AND REPORT
AS TO THE CONDITION, MANAGEMENT AND PROSPECTS OF THE GRAND TRUNK
RAILWAY COMPANY; John Lovell, Toronto: 1857; p. 208 .
29. Ibid., P1204 •
30. COMMISSION APPOINTED TO INQUIRE; Report; 1861, pp. 125-7
31. Ibid., p. 95 •
33. Ibid., p. 88.
CANADIAN 347 R A I L
34. THE OPENING OF THE PICTOU RAILWAY; Fleming, Sandford; Halifax,
1867; p. 25 .
35. OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF THE GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY OF CANADA;
Breithaupt, W.H.; Bulletin of the Railway & Locomotive Historical
Society, Boston, Mass.,U.S.A.; No. 23 (1930), p. 54.
36. STEEL RAILS: THEIR HISTORY, PROPERTIES, STRENGTH AND MANUFACTURE;
Sellew, William H.; D. Van Nostrand Company, New York; 1913; p. 54.
37. Spriggs, W.M.; p. 24.
38. THE GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY OF CANADA; Currie, A.W.
University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 1957. p. 121.
Breithaupt, W.H. ~Outline of the History of the Grand Trunk Railway
of Canada~: Bulletin of the Railwoy & Locomotive
Historical Soc~ety, Boston, Mass., U.S.A., No. 23,
Brown, Thomas Storrow A HistorYof the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada
Combiled from Publ~c Documents. Hunter, Rose & Co. Que
ec, Canada, 1864.
Canada, Legislature Journals of the Legislative Assembly,Appendix,
Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Affairs of the Grand Trunk
Railway, Report, 1861. Derbishire and Desbarats,
Quebec, Canada, 1861.
Currie, A.W. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada; University of
Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada, 1957
Fleming, Sandford The Opening of the Pictou Railway. Halifax: 1867.
Public Archives of Canada: RG 30, Vol. 96, Summary of Steel Rails:
Great Western Railway of Canada; Vol. 2707-1,
Timetables of the Grand Trunk Railway.
Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Inquire and Report as
to the Condition, Management and Prospects of the
Grand Trunk Railway Company: John Lovell, Toronto,
Sellew, William H.
Smith, Russell D. Western Railway:
Vol. LX, No.4,
Spriggs, W.M. Bulletin
Walker, Frank N. ~The Birth of the Buffalo and Brantford Railway,
Ontario History, Vol. XLVII, No.2, 1955 (Spring).
Walker, Frank N. and
Walker, Gladys Chantler
1. I J 1» 1f If I e
gg; J ~JL~~Q)
IN A LETTER DATED APRIL 19 1973, THE HONORABLE JEAN CHRETIEN, MINIS
ter of Indian and Northern Affairs advised Mr. N.J.MacMillan,
Chairman and President, Canadian National Railway Company,
of his departments interest in railway buildings, principally sta
tions, and his concern about the rapid disappearance of these in
disuse. Meanwhile, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
stimulated to action the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings,
Research Division, National Historic Sites Service, National and
Historic Parks Branch. The CIHB assigned two undergraduate archi-
tects, two temporary-staff photographers and at least one historian
to prepare the necessary photographs, screening papers and justifi
cations which would be required to permit the Minister to recommend
to the pre3idents of Canadas railways that certain railway stations
The recommendations of the CIHB group came through the His
toric Sites and Monuments Board and were approved by the Minister on
July 30, 1973. On August 15, the Minister of Indian and Northern Af-
foirs advised Mr. MacMillan that the following recommendation had
been made at the June meeting of the Board:
that the following Grand Trunk Railway stations are
of national historic interest and architectural sig-
nificance and that every effort should be made to
ensure their preservation, the priorities being ten-
tative pending more comprehensive material being
available for discussion by the whole Board:
Large category •••••. 1. Kingston Grand Trunk station
2. Belleville Grand Trunk station
Small category ••••.. 1. Port Hope Grand Trunk station
2. Prescott Grand Trunk station
Small stations no
longer in use .••..• 1. St. Marys Junction Grand Trunk
2. Ernestown Grand Trunk station.
The Ministers letter went on to say that the Boards ex-
pansive research into the part that railways have played in Can-
adian history is continuing and during the time it takes to reach
a conclusion, it would be appreciated if Mr. MacMillan would assure
that the six stations named would be saved from demolition and pre
served in their original condition -the latter requirement a re
markable request. Apparently these stations are of particular sig
nificance and when the Boards overall study is complete, it will
indicate what place these stations would play in its plans.
It should be understood that (a) the total evaluation pro
ject is as yet incomplete and (b) these six buildings are initial
suggestions. There may be more. In fact, there are sure to be more~
FORMER CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS STATION AT JONQUIERE, QUEBEC, A modern
brick structure ca. 1930, todoy is used by lOrdre Loyal du
Moose~ ~T41e bea:Jh ful 1866 brick station of the Montreal & Vermont
Junction Ry., at St-Armand, Que.,is the town hall. Photos K.R.Goslett.
CANADIAN 350 R A I L
If six Ontario stations have been designated, then it naturally fol
lows that there will be an equal number from Quebec. Having estab
lished this level of selection, it may be assumed that there will
be at least two or three from each of the other Provinces, which
will make a grand total of some 20 or 22 stations, since Prince Ed
ward Island and Newfoundland con muster about one each.
Even if this number is cut in half, or reduced by as much
as 80%, Canada does not need 15 preserved railway stations. While
the preservation of one or two architecturally and historically sig
nificant stations might be justified, it would be preferable to del
egate their preservation to private, self-sustaining organizations,
which combine enthusiasm for the project with the will to make it an
ongoing, permanent, community-related activity and not an undertaking
totally unrelated to and unwanted by the society in which it is lo
cated, resulting in added expense to Canadians in general.
The Minister might also have been advised on the number and
variety of railway station preservation projects presently being un
dertaken in Canada and perhaps, had he known, he might have had a
crumb or two of praise -and money -to throw their way. Readers of
CANADIAN RAIL already know that there are a few.
The further recommendations of the Historic Sites and Monu
ments Board of Canada -and the justifications for these recommend
ations for these recommendations -are awaited with interest.
AN APOLOGY IS DUE TO DR. PHILIP R. HASTINGS, OUR MEMBER IN WATERLOO,
Iowa, U.S.A. Through some accident, the credit line from the
two photographs on page 223 of the July 1973 (number 258) of
CANADIAN RAIL was lost and only now can we express our rather belated
thanks to Dr. Hastings for allowing us to use his two excellent
pictures of the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County Railroad, as it
used to be.
SPEAKING OF THE ST. JOHNSBURY & LAMOILLE COUNTY, IN ITS FRIDAY, AUG
ust 24 1973 issue, the St. Albans, Vermont DAILY MESSENGER
had the following news item;
The Vermont Transportation Authority told the State Emergency
Board Thursday that it would take the $ 75,000 needed to re
pair tracks of the St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County Railroad
out of money used to buy the line.
The Authority voted last Saturday to purchase the line from
Mr. Samuel Pinsley of Boston for $ 1.4 million. Authority
Chairman Robert Gensburg of St. Albans appeared before the
Emergency Board Thursday to give a status report on the
99-mile line between Swanton and St. Johnsbury.
The railroad will be leased to a group of Lamoille County
business men for eight months. The Authority will pay the
group $ 11,000 a month to operate the line.
Businessmen in northern Vermont expressed concern that if
the line went under on September 3 when the Interstate Com
merce Commission said it could be abandoned, they would be
left without adequate transportation for their raw materials
CANADIAN -351 R A I L
ABOUT 09:15 HOURS, FRIDAY JULY 20 1973, ONE OF THE TWO UNITED AIR
craft of Canada Limited $ 2 million, 4-car TURBO trainsets,
sold last December to AMTRAK USA for service to and from
Chicago, Illinois, slid smoothly out of Canadian National Railways
Central Station, Montreal, for a 240-mile round-trip test run on
the Montreal-Toronto main line west to Brockville, Ontario. The
white front-and-rear power cars bore the usual AMTRAK headless arrow
and the two intermediate coaches were painted with blue and red st
ripes. The name AMTRAK was prominently displayed in large letters
on both sides of the power cars and the destination signs indicated
At about the same time, Canadian Nationals overnight pig
gyback-container freight Train 228 from Toronto to Turcot Yard, Mon
treal, was passing Dorval and reducing speed, in preparation to ta
king the crossovers at Ballantyne to the direct-access north track
to Turcot Yard.
As the TURBO train set swished through Ville-St-Pierre, the
westbound main line signal 52 L, controlling switch 47 at Ballantyne,
came into view. Whatever its aspect, the trainsets speed, estimated
at 60 mph, was not significantly reduced.
Container-piggyback Train 228 was then in the process of ne
gotiating the crossover from Track 3 to Track 2 at Ballantyne, fiom
the eastbound main to the westbound main and thence to Track 1 for
Turcot Yard. It was moving over switch 47. TURBO was also approach
ing switch 47 on the westbound main line at about 60 mph.
As the 4-car trainset sped towards Ballantyne, mile 8.9,at
about 09:45, members of the traincrew and others in the control cab
atop the forward power car saw four 89-foot container flats and the
caboose, the rear end of Train 228, moving cautiously through the
crossover. At that moment, the AMTRAK TURBOtrain had less than 15
seconds in which to stop.
As soon as he saw the freight blocking the westbound main,
the man at TURBOs controls applied the brakes in emergency. But in
the time and distance left, there was no way that TURBO could be
stopped. At 09: 47, at an estimated speed of 40 mph., the train set
struck the long container flat, loaded with two empty 40-foot ACL
containers, fourth from the end of Train 228.
The corner of the 89-foot flat sliced into the side of the
leading power car just behind its bulbous nose, about three feet
above rail level on the right-hand side in the direction of travel.
It knifed into the aluminum carbody, apparently striking one of the
turbines and severing fuel lines and electrical connections. Under
the force of TURBOs momentum, it continued shearing through the
carbody of the first coach and along the side of the second coach
for about a quarter of the latters length, before TURBO was thrown
sideways to the left off Track 2 onto Track 3. The rear of the sec
ond coach and the rear power car had their sides scraped and dented,
but the aluminum bodies were not ripped open.
Within seconds of the collision, fuel from the broken pipes
ignited and there was a burst of flame and smoke which seemed to
shoot nearly a hundred feet into the air. This was followed by a
second, less violent explosion. Flames spread rapidly through the
interiors of the leading power car and first coach.
CN personnel, AMTRAK representatives, UAC employees, guests
from the Illinois Central Gulf and Milwaukee Railroads and the United
States National Transportation Safety Board escaped from the flames
and smoke through the windows of the control cab, knocked outward
with a fire-axe, or through the nose-door of the power car. Fortun
ately there were no fatalities, but there were burns, bruises and
CANADIAN 354 R A I L
The front power cor ond first coach were now blazing fur
iously, the heat being sufficient to melt the aluminum roofs and
sides of the cars. Firemen from the City of Lachine, Quebec, rushed
to the scene of the collision, were able to confine the flames to
the forward power car and the two coaches, but the inside of the
rear power car was apparently extensively damaged by heat and smoke.
Efforts to bring the fire under control were hampered by the fact
that CNs main line west at Ballantyne runs through a 40-foot-deep
CN main line passenger trains to Toronto, Ottawa and the
west were rerouted through the Mount Royal Tunnel to EJ Tower and
thence .over the St-Laurent Subdivision to Montreal Yard, regaining
the main line about 1,000 feet west of the scene of the accident.
At about 17:00 that afternoon, the remains of the burned
up front power car and first coach of the AMTRAK TURBO trainset were
loaded into two gondola cars by the Montreal Yard auxiliary. Track
crews were making temporary repairs to the crossover switches and
track, torn up by the derailment, The second AMTRAK TURBO coach and
rear power car were upright on Track 4, but could not be moved be
cause the single pair of supporting wheels between the two coaches
had been demounted, probably when the rear portion of the train set
was dragged back away from the two blazing forward units.
The AMTRAK TURBO trainset which collided with Train 228 was
composed of power car Number 54 leading, followed by coach Number
77, coach Number 76 and rear power car Number 55. Damage to the
front power car and first coach was so extensive that neither can be
rebuilt. Coach 76 will require major rebuilding, while rear power
car Number 55, unless badly damaged inside, can be rebuilt.
In a press statement on July 31, 1973, J.W.G.Macdougall,Ex
ecutive Vice-President of Canadian National, said that the accident
had occurred because the TURBO passed a red signal governing the
switch being cleared by the piggyback-container freight. He affirm
ed that the freight had the right-of-way over the crossover switch.
He also pointed out that the TURBO trainset had withstood the force
of the collision as well as could have been expected and said that
an investigation of the cause of the subsequent fire would be under
taken in cooperation with the Railway Transport Committee of the
Canadian Transport Commission.
FURTHER NEWS OF CP RAILS BALDWIN UNITS ON VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH
Columbia, comes from John Hoffmeister of Victoria, B.C. In
mid-August, Number 8007 had been sent back to Ogden Shops,
Calgary, Alberta, for repairs and what was postulated to emerge was a
conglomerate of Numbers 8007 and 8012. A representative of the
railways motive power department said that Number 8006 might be
reparable by using parts from destroyed units Numbers 8008 and 8011.
Mr. Hoffmeister planned a visit to the Olympic Peninsula of
the State of Washington, U.S.A., in September, to investigate the
isolated branch of the Milwaukee Railroad which runs from Port Town
send to Port Angeles. The SD 9 units which handle much paper traffic
run through some very scenic country. Connection to the Milwaukees
main line at Seattle is by car-barge from Port Townsend. This iso
lated branch is the farthest-west railroad in the continental United
.. HOlrl MANY TIMES YOUVE SAID TO YOURSELF, I WONDER WHAT THE AUTHOR
looks like~ Well, now you can see for yourself. On the front plat
form of CP RAIL Baldwin DRS-4-4-1000, Number 8000, stands John E.
Hoffmeister of Victoria, B.C., author of several articles for CAN-
ADIAN RATI Th., rln+., ;c Mn )1; 1071. ·H.~ _, ___ 1.1_
EARLY IN AUGUST, 1973, THE DOMINION ATLANTIC RAILWAYS MACHINE SHOP
ot Kentvllle, Novo Scotia, was co.pletely destroyed by fire.
Glenn Wolli~, our ••• ber in Kenlvill., who sent this in
formation, reported that lhe fire caused so •• S 250,000 dOMage and
its cous. was unknown. The other railway buildin9 and equip.ent ad
jacent to the ~ochine .hop, were kept wet down with woter and thus
saved. Built in the 1920 the building wos used Mainly to house
DAR eaintenonce equip~ent. The west end was renled to the AN.ricon
Can Company which hod about a 0111ion cons stored in it fOf us. by
food processors. The building was used as a Machine and block.nith
shop before sleoe locONotives were replaced by die.el units.
Norris on in; in the Roekies~.
P.litllct. folks … Ire b.irt .II slidt • .II lush·out. a hot box. II fl:JI dtt!, Qd If, 31uililJllbt
roll o( tht dire 011 tht ttXIJocMiol1 for the stlu/irt SlriJ:t. ..
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