Consulter nos archives / Consult our archives

La majorité des documents conservés par le Centre d'archives et de documentation de l'ACHF sont disponibles pour consultation.

Most of the documents kept by the ACHF Archives and Documentation Center are available for consultation.

Canadian Rail 334 1979

Lien vers le document

Canadian Rail 334 1979

Canadian Rail ;;

Rare pho to s howi ng the MacDi armi d Tunnel, under construction
on the
Canadian Northern Ontario Railway
near Orient Bay on Lake Nipigon.
Photo taken by Mr. A. J. Isbester
the Chief Engineer for the Railway.
An unusual view taken inside the
MacDiarmid Tunnel on the Canadian
Northern Railway. The photo was
taken by Mr. A.J. Isbester.
ISSN 0008 -4875
Published monthly by The Canadian
Railroad Historical Association
P.O. Box 22, Station B lontrea 1
Quebec Canada H3B 3J5
EDITOR: M. Peter Murphy
LAY OUT: M i c he 1 P a u 1 e t
L. M. Unwin, Secretary 60-6100 4th
Ave. NE
Calgary, Alberta T2A 5Z8
D. E. Stoltz, Secretary
P. O. Box 141, Station A, Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 8Vl
R. Keillor, Secretary
P. O. Box 1006, Station A, Vancouver
British Columbia V6C 2Pl
C. K. Hatcher, ~ecretary
P. O. Box 6102, Station C, Edmonton
Al berta T5B 2NO
R. Ballard, Sr., Secretary
300 Ca bana Road Ea st, Wi ndsor, Ontario
N9G lA2
J. C. Kyle, Secretary
P. O. Box 5849, Terminal A. Toronto Ontario
5.W lP3
Peter Warwick, Secretary
P.O. Box 593
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2R 6W8
The Driving Of The Last Spike On The
• Railway
· ,
Can<;ldian North.ern Ontario Engine L49, ParrySovnd, Ontar,io in 1908.
At thistim~ the Cana~ian Northern Railway had 25 4-6-0 lo~omotiv~s
boiltby the Montreal L~~omotive Works Ltd.~(shop numbers 4~775-99)
,numbered 227 to 251, inclusiye~ They had 20X 26 cylinders and
63,01 drivers. In ,1912 they were re-numbered Canadidn Northern 1288
– to l312, these ~umbers were r~tained when Canadian ~ationaltook
oYer, Photo CQurtesy of the Public Arc.hives of Canada ,# 23241.
The Driving Of The
Last Spike On The
Canadian Northern
Ontario Railway
Jctn Todd
With the completion of the Winnipeg-Port Arthur link,
the Canadian Northern Railway continued its rapid expansion
in Western Canada, it also made a beginning in Eastern Canada
in January 1904 by acnuiring the 244 mile Great Northern
Railway of Canada. Traffic rights were also obtained over
the Canada Atlantic Railway making it possible for the Canadian
Northern to forward cargo in lake vessels from Port Arthur to
Depot Harbour near Parry Sound, and then via rail to the
Atlantic seaboard.
The Canadian Northern took over several other small
railways and were soon operating a sizeable Eastern system.
They then planned to build a transcontinental railway which
would link the Eastern and Western divisions. This project
received a temporary setback when the Grand Trunk Railway
signed an agreement with the Government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier
to jointly build the second transcontinental railway. The
Canadian Northern had hoped to be chosen as the builders.
The Canadian Northern Ontario Railway had problems
finding a suitable route from Port Arthur to Nipigon. The
C.P.R. ran on, and controlled the shoreline from the C.N.R.
station to Current River a distance of 2.1 miles, they also
ran on the shoreline of Nipigon Bay, Lake Superior, from Red Rock
to Nipigon.
It was not until 1910 that running rights over the
C.P.R. were granted on the Port Arthur to Current River
section but rights were refused over the C.P.R. from Current
River to Nipigon. They then built their own line through
this area beginning in 1911. The problem on the Nipigon Bay was
overcome by building a cribwork and rock fill along the
Por Complete Servlcl!II West of Port Arthur, See Combined or
We.lern Line. Folder.
Westbound Eastbound-
__ –!.!.A-iUi–U-;(~cW–N:-· __ TABLE 78 _lCAD Up
Tue.,. 1uo.
Thurs. Miles (East.ernlime) Tbur!.
___ -1~5~~I·-I—I—————I_7s~~I~··-r—-
.Y Y.)!. ,;!~.2 (.T •••••••…. Foley.t , ………. A r cPli~60
m.Th.Sa.. ~tt~ .J,.U …………. HhuwuUro …………. cll.29 ·!.1/~h.~I,. ua.9 .•••.•••••.•.. MlssODICIl •.•••••••.•.. dl.10
c1.51 5.3.6 .• •··• •• ·, •.••• Ostlund • ••••••••.••.. cl0.60
/S.10 63.1 ……………. A_n …………….. /10.80
c2.26 47J.4 .••.•.••.••.. Ounrunkln …………. elO.IO c2.85
76.1 .• , ……….. lIkeswne •.•••••..••.. c:10.00
J2.50 4.82.6 .•••..••…… Pctorbell ••••..••…•.. c S.fa .••••.•••••.
U~ ~~:g :::::::::::::·.·t~-IU:.;~::::::::::::: ~ trg –
~tta g~t~ :::::::::::::)tV~~~~!:~hl1::::::::::::: ~::ti ~~~;r~S
c:f.H 62tL6·, ……….. Neswabln . •.• •••…•• c8.18 will be
•. 80 63 •. & …………….. Ob. .••…••.••••..•. 8.00 bandledoD
«:,41 6f,{).O ………… Alban.1 }torks ……. …. d.t? lIrelrbt.
cf.61 6t8.1 …….. o-••••• )Io.cdutr .•…•….••. c7.81 Trains.
~::Ig r~:~ ::::::::::::: .. ~ohDe~~~~:::::::::::::: ~~:M rr<::f~~~~.
6.60 673 … Ar ……… Hornepayn ••….. L. 6.40 mitsnot
e6.17 6H~~ …………… Lenmm ……… ,. …. ca.l? required)
d.Sl 688:~ ………….. Tontloro… ….. …… c:6.01 to or from
c8. 6~:~ …………. , OtH~I.I.Dll •••••..• …… d.tS Stations
01.00 60t.S .•••.••••.••.••.. Lu% •••.••••••.•••.. c6.30 Goiram&
~:~ ~~:~ :::~::::::::::j~~ls~I~~t::::: ::: :::::: jtM A~:U~:ta1.
~~:: ru:~ ::::::::::::.~·~~1:a~!~:r.~::::::::::: ~tU ~~I~bs
d.GS 635.1 …………… GaDlsb ………….. d.18 One and.
l::~ ~:; ::::::::::::::C:r~;~;:::::::::::::: /t~: T:o:re
: I::~ ~!:: ::::::::::::~al!~~~~a~:::::::::::: ~:~; ~~~~~d
8.15 &73 ……………. Lon_lnc.. …… …… 8.00 f—-
c 8.32 682 .•.•….•.••….. Oclopns ………….. ci .• J
c 8 .• 6 681.7 ………….. I.lIl1ifmnr ……. …… ci.ii
~l~:~; ;~n:::::::::::::~K!.~r!d.:::::::.::::: ~W
cl~:~ Ht~A;:::::::::::~~fr:~;.::::::::::L~ tf:=
d1.1e 729.7 …………… I … b …………… xll.66
xll.81 131.6 ………….. Ja.ckplne ………… 1 xlJ.fO
x11 ••• 1 …………… R~nr(huorf…………. x12.86
x11.58 1411;6 …………. ~n-rrrftrord ………… xli.1.
x12.01 751.6 ………….. }·llirioch ………….. xl1.61
J12.U 160.7 …………. Mn~·(1I:umld ………… J11.6O
12.2~ 76..2 ………… a.y………… IJ.~<6
J 1.13 790.1 ………. C.m.ron F. ……….. 0.42
xL~ ~g~:~::::::::::::::Ut~Ji~~~ :::::::::::::: J:~g:~
x1.61 813.6 ………….. Coll6thlln ………….. x 9.61
;n~ f~L:::::~:~:::<~~~r:::::;:::;::; d:~
x2.61 8.6 …………. IJftss Lake… ………. xS.6~
,3.13 853.1 ……………. Mlhloy …………… ~8.38
)::.23 8~a. ……….. HII1N JlnrbClMr ……….. xtl.~
x3.3 tl6- …………. Wild Uoose…………. 1:8.11
%3. 869.8 …………… Cnrrtnt …… •……. x8.07
b 3.M 871.~Ar ……. Port Arlhur ………. Lv cP3.00
·A.,1. , ( lime) A.~I.
Wp-.Fr.Su. Ill Th}~i.
Trains NO!l. I Duel l-Toronto-VlnnlptJ!-Vllnct,uy(r.-·-CnIllJHutmr.nt
OLsrvution Cnrs Toronto-Winnip~. EdrnolJtoll·am:IlUVl·r: StD.lI­
dQr<1 anel Tourist Sleeping CaN Toronto-VIl[J(olT(. Dining CaN
On Fricly night only, June 27th to August 29th, Standard
SI~ping Car Toronto to J,ake Jos.eph.
Trains Nos.3Rn<14-0ttawR.Caprfol.Sudbury.--Ou!Olrv:.tioll, nroiler.
TraJ~~~~:15~~~ ;~To~~~ro: Trains No~. 5 on(l 6-0Uawn-Montre-RI.-Cnfc-]lIrlor CII=,.
Trains No,. 7 nnd R-Torolito-OHlI.W:1.–stuudoutl Drawing Room nnct
BulTtt·Compartment Slccpin~ Cnrsl
Trntns Nn,,,. 1 Anti 8-0ttowflaMontrc~1.-CArc &larlor Crtr~.
1mns J;us. 21 and 22-QIle-htc-(;hlcoutlml.-Cnfc:-J·arlor CaC!.
Trains Nos. 23 and 24-QueMc-ChJcoutlml.-Stnnfbrd Sireping Con.
Trains Nos. 3· nlld 35–Toronto~PArry Sound (Suclhllry).–EfffCtivc
t~~~nlt~t1;;~~lt:s ~~~y~Orollto.Po.rry &1111<1 (Suclhury), Diniut( Car
Tl1lln!l Kos. 36 Dud 31–Toronto-Parry SO1nd.·-(·af~·Puror Cnr. Effective
Jllne 11th. unpt on No. 37 011 St urd:ty~.
Trains Nos. 38 and 39-Toronto-Pnrry Sound.-Cafr-PiHtor Clt.r
Northbound. CuE-Parior Car Soulhlncmc1 hc:tween )arry Sollnd Dnd
Vn. .. hnKo Parlor Car… Toronto AIIII Pilrry SOIUII!.
Train No,. 3 und 4 -Oue-bec-CochraneaVlnnJpe-g -Stnndard Sle~P
ing Cars, Dining Car Quehec to WinniprK.
Train Nolt. 3, 5 nnd 6 -Qu(bfC·CnChmnl.· -fitnnd:1f(1 Sirepln){ Cnr:-l.
Dining Car.
For Equipment of TraJtscontillfnllll Trn:ns ~te-Tnille I
(For l~f~r6nCl: MlHb riM Ptl.wes 32 Bod 33)
The route of the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway
from Port Arthur to Sudbury was chosen in 1910, and the
contract for its construction was awarded in the summer of
1911. It was completed in 1914.
Near Little White Otter River, at a point 254 miles
east of Port Arthur, 615 miles northwest of Toronto and
approximately 60 miles north of White River on the C.P.R.,
Sir William Mackenzie President of the Canadian Northern,
on New Years morning 1914, drove the last spike of the new
line connecting the eastern and middle-western provinces of
The ceremony took place at eight 0 clock, just as the
morning light of early winter day in the auiet north country
gathered strength to offset that sombre majesty of stately
pines, and was witnessed by a small party of guests and
officials. Barely ten minutes elapsed from the time the
participants left the cars until the train was again in
motion towards Port Arthur.
This first official act of 1914 was of vast signifi­
cance to the Canadian Northern Railway and the Dominion for
the reason that it established the necessary physical
connections of the lines in the industrial east with those
of the agricultural west, and gave the country its second
cross-continental line from Quebec to the first divisional
point of the company in British Columbia, 1574 miles west
of Port Arthur and opened up extensive arable areas in
Ontario for settlement.
dont know whether I will be able to drive this
spike straight or not said the great railroad builder,
smilingly, as he drew off his outer coat and grasped the
spike mall in preparation. It is just twelve years since
I drove the last one. The C.N.R. s president was referring
to the linking up of the Winnipeg-Port Arthur line. Sir
Williams doubts were, however, not realized, and five inches
of prepared metal were imbedded in the tie, and a new era in
Canadian transportation history inaugurated, almost before
the interested crowd that had gathered could believe the
fact accomplished. Their hands and hats were raised aloft
in accompaniment to the cheers in which a large number of
men from a nearby construction camp joined. Sir William
Mackenzie, Sir Donald Mann and the Canadian Northern men
followed. A few minutes later the train steamed slowly
over the new steel, the great work done.
This new section of the Canadian Northern trans­
continental when fully completed is remarkable for the
rapidity of its construction and for its efficiency
characteristics. It runs from Sudbury to Port Arthur in
Ontario a distance of 617 miles. The contract was awarded
to Foley Bros., and a subsidiary the Northern Construction
Company in the summer of 1911. Only a small amount of work
The Blende River Viaduct as seen during construction in 1912
and as completed. The structure is 2258 feet long, 130 feet
high and has 19 supporting towers. Both photos courtesy of
Mr. A.J.Isbester, CNOR.
· .
I • ~ ).1
Two photos of the steamer EMPIRE placing fill for the roadbed
of the Canadian Northern Ontario Line along the shore of Nipigon
Bay, between Red Rock and Nipigon, Ontario. Both photos courtesy
Mr. A.J.Isbester.
was done that fall. The food supplies for the army of men
engaged, flour, pork, butter, canned goods and so on,
together with hay and oats for the horses were hauled north
and distributed at various points during the winter of 1911-
1912. As a result real construction operations did not
commence until the spring of 1912, which means that the
entire contract has been worked out in two years. Despite
this cutting down of available time, a rigid standard was
insisted upon through and the gradients and curvature held
down to an eminently satisfactory minimum. This works for
economy in operation and expeditious handling of the heavy
traffic of the coming years and should constitute a line
that will contribute greatly towards the elimination of
trade congestion in the future.
The official special train consisting of four business
cars ran through over the C.N.R., from Toronto to Sudbury.
Beyond, all the way to Port Arthur, the schedule was arranged
to permit the keenest inspection by Sir William, Sir Donald,
Mr. D. B. Hanna and other officers chiefly concerned.
Discussing the construction of the new line and its
place in the developmen~ of Canada, Sir Donald Mann, Vice­
President of the company said, The first section of this
line north from Sudbury is known to contain enormous mineral
deposits. The next 260 miles is suitable for agriculture
when cleared, it is now covered by a dense growth of pulp­
wood and pine trees. The revenue from local traffic alone
will sufnce in a very short tillJ.~ to make the road sel f
sustaining. The standard of the line is equal in ivery way
to the Notional Transcontinental, compared by gradients,
bridges, curvature and weight of rails. It was built in one
quarter the time renuired to construct the National Trans­
continental and of course, for very much less money. The
new line has a grade of but four-tenths of one percent
between Port Arthur and Montreal with an almost perfect
alignment. It is the lowest graded road on the continent.
Our roads are so much lower than our competitors that we
can take one hundred per cent more tonnage over it at the
same cost than any other road on the continent. To secure
this grade our Chief Locating Engineer, Mr. H. K. Wicksteed,
spent four years in the North Country winter and summer.
The party included in addition to those already
mentioned, Mr. John Aird, Assist. Gen. Manager of the
Canadia~ Bank of Commerce, Toronto; Major C.D. Hine, New
York City; Mr. W. W. Butler, Montreal; Mr. Frederic Nicholls,
Prewident Canadian General Electric Co., Toronto; Mr. J. E.
Mackenzie, Winnipeg; Mr. H. K. Wicksteed, Chief Locating
Engin~er, Canadian Northern Railway, Toronto, and Mr. W. H.
Grant, Manager of Construction for the company, Toronto.
Memorable affair was that early today when completion
of big link iri Canadian Northern celebrated.
Fresh from driving the last spike the crowning of their
great work, Sir William Mackenzie, Sir Donald Mann and party
arrived in Port Arthur at one oclock this morning and, from
that hour until 3:30 oclock they were the guests of honour
at a banquet at the Prince Arthur Hotel given by the Port
Arthur City Council and the Board of Trade.
The holding of a banquet at that hour was perhaps
without precedent in the history of Port Arthur, but interest
never dulled and during the whole evening over one hundred of
the prominent citizens of the city sat or strolled around the
spacious rotunda of the hotel, smoking and chatting.
The 254 mile journey over the new unballasted line
from Little White Otter River to Port Arthur had taken
longer than anticipated.
It was nearly one oclock when the special carrying
the railroad builders was aspied in the distance. When train
engine number 1370 pulled into the depot, Mayor Oliver, Mr.
J. J. Carrick, M.P., D. M. Hogarth, M.P.P., and many pro-rninen.t.,c.
itize.n,s· were. there to meet t.hem.
Sir William and Sir Donald alighted looking bright and
spry and were at once escorted to the hotel.
Mayor Oliver presided and at his right sat Sir William
Mackenzie, Mr. Frederic Nicholls, President of The Canadian
General Electric Company, Toronto, and the former President
of the C.N.R., and Mr. J. J. Carrick, M.P.P., on the left
was Sir Donald Mann.
The Mayor in introducing Sir William and Sir Donald
referred to them as the two great pathfinders, and spoke
of the occurrence of twelve y~ars ago, when the last spike
was driven in the Port Arthur-Winnipeg Division of the
Canadian Northern Railway.
Mr. I. L. Matthews also spoke to the toast, he said
Twelve years ago, I presided at a banquet in the old
Northern Hotel celebrating the completion of the Winnipeg­
Port Arthur link of the C.N.R. Now we are celebrating the
completion of 7000 miles or more of railway. Sir William
Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann have been truly termed path­
finders •
Sir Williom Mackenzie on rising to reply to the toast,
was given an ovation. Of medium height, strongly built with
iron grey hair, pointed beard and keen grey-blue eyes that
see afar, the President of the C.N.R. spoke slowly as one
who is accustomed to consider what he says before saying it.
Photos showing the construction of trestle cribwork at Red Rock and
the digging of a cut near Nipigon, Ontario for the Conadian
Northern Ontario Railwoy. Both photos courtesy Mr. A.J.Isbester.
Railway Construction before levelling near Orient Bay, Ontario.
Photo courtesy Mr. A.J.Isbester.
Riprapping at Orient Bay, by A.J.Isbester
Construction locomotive being pulled out of the MacDiarmid Tunnel
after having been involved in a collision. ( A.J.lsbester)
L ok
Lost Spike
at Lilt Ie White Olter R.
254 of Port
H & ara t
in Northwestern Ontario
ell 0/

,04,,/ a:
… / z
-9 wIg 2-78
Three photos of this C.P.R. wreck that spilled over onto the
Canadian Northern Ontario at Red Rock, Ontario. Photos cour­
tesy Mr. H.H.Matthews, Thunder Bay, Ontario
He opened his address by thanking the citizens for
their splendid reception and wishing them a prosperous New
Year. He also referred to the banauet of twelve years ago
in the old Northern Hotel. We at that time were very
small, he said We owned about one thousand miles of rail­
road. Today we have grown. You have grown. We are going
to make Port Arthur our great terminal where rail and water
meet. Since the completion of the Port Arthur-Winnipeg
line twelve years ago we have constructed 400 to 800 miles
of railway a year. Today our system is close to 10,000
miles in length. We have had our difficulties. We have had
to dispose of our securities unguaranteed to raise money to
carryon the work. In the last two years we have spent from
three to five millions of dollars a month on the C.N.R.
Times have not been of the best of late and we have had
difficulties, but we have now got rid of these big
The building up of the east and west has C9me to such
a point that expenditures will be much less in the future.
Our lines in British Columbia will be completed by August
or September of this year, and we will drive the last spike
there and shall have spanned the continent.
Sir Donald Mann, a man of few words, sauare, powerful
and compactly built, was given a great ovation when he arose
to reply to the toast.
Thirty four years ago last July I came to Prince
Arthurs Landing, said the constructive genius, I worked
near here for the C.P.R. for about a month. I then went to
White Otter Bridge, mile 255 courtesy A.J.lsbester
Duluth, which was simply a scar on the face of nature. In
1886-87 I came back to Port Arthur. There were three
passengers on the train besides myself. You have grown some
since then. We have grown. You are at the head of inland
navigation, where wheels and keels meet. The wheels of three
great transcontinental railways are centered here.
Twelve years ago I made the prediction that ~ithin a
decade one million bushels of grain would pour intothe
elevators at the head of the lakes in a day. It has come
to pass.
The banauet was brought to a close by the singing of
Auld Lang Syne.
Mr. Hanna returned east this morning. Sir William and
Lady Mackenzie went west as far as Winnipeg, Sir Donald Mann
went through to the coast.
Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann were
knighted in 1911 on recommendation of the new Prime Minister
Robert Borden.
Roderick Mackenzie was the eldest son of Sir William
Steam hauled freight on the Blende River Viaduct, photo courtesy
Mr. Ed Christie, Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Names chosen for divisional points on new C.N.R.O.
Jellicoe -after the British Admiral.
Hornepayne -after R. M. Horne-Payne financial adviser
to Sir William Mackenzie and the C.N.R.
Foleyet -after Foley Bros., a Foley Station already
existing in Manitoba, Foleyville was suggested,
Sir Donald Mann was unimpressed and said
Well call that place Foley-yet.
Capreol -named for Toronto man who had been a director
of one of the first railways from that city.
Blende River viaduct near Pass Lake and east of Port
Arthur,Ontario is 2258 feet long abutment to abutment,
130 feet in height.
References us~d in preparing this article.
Port Arthur Daily News January 2nd, 1914.
G. R. Stevens Canadian Notional Railways Vol. 2
Clarke Irwin & Company Ltd., Toronto 1962.
D. B. Hanna. Trains of Recollection, the Macmillan
Company of Canada 1924.
The Canadian Northern Railway. T. D. Regehr. The
Macmillan Company of Canada 1976.
Notes on naming stations on Canadian Northern System (By
A. J. Hills, Ottawa, 1956). Special collection H. Q.
Library, Canadian National Railway, Montreal.
I wish to thank the following for their valuable assistance
in preparing this article.
Mr. Clifford Brown, Thunder Boy, Ontario.
The Estate of the Late A. J. Isbester, Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Mr. William Germaniuk, Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Mr. E. C. Everett, Nipigon, Ontario.
Mr. J. Norman Lowe, Historical Research Officer,
H. Q. Library, Canadian National Railways, Montreal.
Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, Thunder Bay.
Thos. Bell was stationed at Macdiarmid, Ontario (C.N.R.)
for a number of years. He was a very obliging station agent,
who gave all information obligingly to tourists and all who
asked. Macdiarmid was a unique fishing place, a mixture of
Indians, Scotch, Irish, French and Finns; often causing
scraps and fueds.
Back in the days—Pass Lake Ontario, courtesy Mrs. Rita Petersen.
Thomas Bell was a friend of mine,
I used to know him down the line,
For years and years for the C.N.R.,
And before that too for the G.T.R.,
This railroad man with his lights all green,
Had highballed through -all slick and clean.
I knew Tom when he was in his prime,
At Macdiarmid station at any old time,
The trains came at night -and always were late.
But Tom was there if you had to wait,
With a roaring fire that gave lots of heat,
The accommodation there was hard to beat.
CNORy on the bank of the Nipigon River where the CPR passes overhead
and photo of Orient Bay Station. Both photos courtesy Mr. E.C.Everett
of Nipigon, Ontario.
With Indians and dogs and passengers few,
This agent cried aut, The train is due
Mid the howling of dogs and the screaching of brake,
And the echo resounding -clear across the lake.
Number 79 is in boys -have tickets in hand,
If you belonged to the Indian Lake Nipigon Band.
He was Telegrapher, Agent, Mailman and Mayor,
Fisherman, Trapper, Fish Agent and square,
Friend of all men -from tourist to tramp,
To trapper and traveller, and men from the camp.
With a pot bellied stove that gave lots of heat,
And your lunch in a bag -if you had to eat.
There was Joe Snatch, Joe the Ghost, Adolph King and Moose McLeod, And many more
Old Timers -who belonged to the crowd,
Who played poker all night when the fish didnt bite,
And when their money was gone, theyd all start to fight.
But Tom was counsellor, peacemaker and friend,
And everything turned out O.K. in the end.
By E. C. Everett
The MacDiarmid Tunnel now completed as photographed by Mr.
A.J.Isbester of the CNORy.
b~ Fred Angus
The network of Canadas railways covers almost every
conceivable type of topography from the level plains to the
mountain passes of the Rockies. In the more than 140 years
since the first railway ran in Canada the development of this
network has involved vast numbers of engineering projects,
among the most spectacular of which are the great bridges
which carry the rail lines over rivers, lakes and valleys.
A considerable number of these bridges date from the nineteenth
century, although in many cases the original structure has been
rebuilt to handle heavier trains and increased traffic of the
present day. Foremost among these nineteenth century bridges
is the Victoria Bridge at Montreal, constructed in the 1850 s,
rebuilt in the 1890s and still in use. While the construction
of the Victoria Bridge is one of the great success stories of
mid-nineteenth century railway building, another, and even
longer bridge of the same period offers an example of a
spectacular failure. This latter bridge, almost forgotten
today, was 2.6 miles long, possibly the longest ever built in
Canada, and almost double the length of Victoria Bridge. This
ill-fated structure was the Cobourg and Peterborough Railway
bridge across Rice Lake.
In 1850 the aspect of Canadas transportation was just
starting to enter its period of great change; the railway age.
Until the late 1840s the most dependable, albeit seasonal,
was by water, and up until 1848 the Canadian and British
governments had spent huge sums on a network of canals in
Canada. Although railways had been on the scene since 1836,
the early lines were mostly intended to supplement existing
waterways, and it is only after 1848 that the value of the
railway development got under way the lines spread rapidly,
and within ten years the Grand Trunk main line was essentially
completed and the transportation map of Canada was irrevocably
altered by this new fast system which could operate in all
seasons. Among the places adversely affected by the coming
of the railway were the old towns, on both river and lake,
which had once handled freight shipments by water and which
now were threatened with being bypassed by the railways.
One such town was Cobourg on Lake Ontario which had once
~hown promise of rivalling Toronto, and was even then in
the process of erecting a large new city hall which stands
to this day. With the coming of the railway the citizens of
Cobourg realized that they would lose much business unless
they too had a railway going inland from Cobourg so making
their town the point at which goods and passengers could be.
transferred from the boats, and from the projected Grand Trunk,
to a northbound railway for travel to the interior. Thirty
miles North of Cobourg lies Peterborough, and this was a
logical initial destination for such a railway. Accordingly,
in 1852, an act of the Legislature of the Province of Canada
was passed incorporating the Cobourg and Peterborough Railway
Company, and authorizing the construction of the line.
The first sod was turned at Cobourg on February 9, 1853,
the ceremony including a parade, ball, and torch-light pro­
cession. The citizens of Cobourg celebrated this event which
was to bring even greater prosperity to their town in this era
of great progress. No doubt the line would soon have been
completed to everyones satisfaction had it not been for one
great obstacle. Midway between Cobourg and Peterborough lies
Rice Lake, situated souarely in the path of the intended rail­
way. Going around the lake would have unduly lengthened the
route, so it was decided to carry the track across the lake
by means of a timber bridge which would be one of the longest
yet built in the world: The lake is shallow, the bottom con­
sisting of black mud in a semi-liauid state which supported
much growth of wild rice, but which afforded no support to
piles. Beneath the mud is a layer of hard, compact sand, and
below that, clay. Even at the start there were dire pre­
dictions from persons who knew the lake that the planned
bridge could not stand up to ice in the winter. However,
expediency overruled reason, and construction began on the
project of which a contempory writer said A greater engi­
neering or commercial blunder can scarcely be found in the
Canadas. The contract for the construction was awarded
to Samuel Zimmerman, contractor, builder, and self-styled
railway king whose death in the Desjardins bridge collapse
of 1857 was one of the contributing factors to the depression
which set in later in the decade.
The bridge crossed from the south side of Rice Lake to
Tic Island, a distance of 3,754 feet. From there, for the
next 2,760 feet there was a series of wooden cribs 10 x 20
at 80 foot intervals, filled with stone and carrying a super­
structure of Burrs truss spans. At the channel was a
swing bridge giving two 50-foot passages when open. The
remaining 6,728 feet to the north shore consisted of a pile
bridge like the first except strengthened by crib work filled
with stone. The entire bridge was 13,676 feet long, and
required 184,000 feet of piling, 782,000 feet of timber, both
sauare and round, in the crib work, and 1,932,000 feet of
sauare timber in the bridge itself. In addition the bridge
trusses reauired 250,000 Ibs. of iron, while 20,000 cubic
yards of stone were used in the cribs. Total cost was about
$175,000 which was a large sum for a structure on a short
pioneer railway of the 1850 s. In the sections built on
piles, the piles were driven with great difficulty into the
hard sand. While it was intended to penetrate through to the
underlying clay, it was found so difficult to drive the piles
(each blow drove it two inches at the most) that in most cases
a depth of ten feet into the sand was judged to be sufficient.
In the centre of the lake the hard bottom is about 40 feet
below high water, pile driving to the clay was not even
attempted, the stone in the cribs being deemed heavy enough
to support the piers of the truss bridge. This judgement,
like the bridge itself, was unsound as was to be painfully
apparent before very long. To be strictly fair to the
——— ———— – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -6;7 sf£ —.
Drawings of
to accomp~ml a PapCl
byT.C. Clarke C.E.
…. _________________ ;F5:. ______ • __ • ___ _
~——–~—-,-I–~—–n-.-.x-r–·——~T—-.—~——-~·-.. -,~–.. ——~—-.—
; fie : /
,j.— ~
~i~ .
promoters ot the railway, the bridge was not intended to last
indefinitely, but only until sufficient fill could be dumped
around it so as to convert it into a causeway. It would have
been better if this had been done at the start, however such
a crossing might have been so costly that it would have killed
the project at the outset, and by starting with a bridge the
thought was that the fill could be placed over the next few
years as revenue permitted.
– —- – -________ . __ 7.J 676j2–2 hi; m ilu _. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _________________________ .
– — – – – — — – —— – — — – – —–~ -. -. — — –
. I
—– -270
;;:: —- — ——–1–43* t— – —-
seRLE HORIZONTAL 600fieb to o7Ufnd,.
1 1
f –
/ / 1 f 1
1 <;.
1 1-//
1 1
IV? Ii.
CROSS SeertoN /01 PIle BRIDce
ajJa 3(/ny.ftf/(d Iv om foot-iflow 1Yci..ler 1fi#,·{fl.rth
Work on building the Cobourg ond Peterborough continued
during 1853 ond 1854. During construction it became apparent
that costs were greatly in excess of estimates, and a dispute
arose between the directors of the company and the contractor.
A shortage of material and ootbreaks of sickness among the
workers also complicated matters. Eventually the directors
agreed to dispense with the services of Mr. Zimmerman and
. …:.——————————————————-~
433ft -Jt— – ——- – — —– – –.J1S#p————————).
continue the work themselves. The Rice Lake bridge was
completed in the summer of 1854, and the line pushed on
towards Peterborough. Despite difficulties with the bridge,
the line was opened in December 1854 and, amid much rejoicing,
the inaugural train, hauled by locomotive Cobourg, newly
built by James Good of Toronto, pulled the first train into
Peterborough. The following year two additional locomotives,
Alma, named after the recent battle in the Crimean War, and
Peterborough joined the fleet. These locomotives were also
built by James Good. In addition two passenger cars, 82
freight cars, and five work cars completed the eauipment.
All were, of course of 5 ft. 6 in. gauge which was then the
standard Provincial gauge.
The line was scarcely opened when the ice began to play
havoc with the new bridge. Ice two-and-a-half feet thick
formed on the lake, this tended to buckle under the alternate
heating of the bright sun and cooling of the cold nights.
Furthermore, when the lake level rose the ice would lift too
and pull the bridge with it, pulling out the inadeauately
driven piles. Although this effect had been noticed during
the winter of 1853-54, at that time only part of the bridge
was in place, but by 1854 the total effect was much worse,
with the entire bridge subject to the moving of the ice. The
worst damage was caused on January 1, 1855 when a massive
shove moved two parts of the bridge in opposite directions,
creating a seven foot gap. This of course stopped operations,
but was eventually repaired and the spring of 1855 saw the
bridge still in service but twisted and shaken and pushed out
of line in many places. There is no record of the speeds of
trains on the structure, but they must have been VERY slow.
It takes some imagination to picture the scene of a 4-4-0
wood-burning locomotive hauling two light wooden passenger
cars over the undulating twisting line. The creaking,
pitching and swaying must have been incredible, enough to
cause seasickness in the most experienced sailor~
By the start of 1856 the total cost of the line was
almost a million dollars, and revenue was not sufficient to
pay even the working expenses and bond interest, as money was
being constantly spent to keep the bridge in repair. In 1867
the line was leased to a Mr. D.E. Boulton who appeared to be somewhat more
successful in management. However just at this
time, the Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway obtained
authority to build a branch line to Peterborough from Mill­
brook on their main line. This branch was opened on August
18, 1858, was only three miles long, and was more dependable
than the Cobourg and Peterborough. As a result the latters
traffic fell so much that the bond-holders foreclosed on the
line in the same year, and through service was discontinued.
However, one last attempt was made, in 1860, to revive the
line and replace the bridge with an embankment, this was also
unsuccessful, and finally, in 1861, the ice completed its
destruction and the bridge was swept a~oy, never to be rebuilt. So
ended the through railway fra~ Cobourg to Peterborough, and
for SOMe years the only connection to Peterborough was by way
of Port Hope.
However the whole story was not auite ended. In 1865
what was left of the railway was sold for SlOO,OOO, and the
following year it was a~olgo.ated with the Har~ora Iron Works
to for~ the Cobourg Peterborough and HarMora Railway and
Mining COMpany. By 1870 total trackage was 25t Miles in­
cluding a physically-separate branch to Slairtan, the sit.
of considerable ~ining operations. In the 1870s most other
Tailway. which hod been 5 ft. 6 in. gouge converted to
standard ft. at in., however the C.P. & M. could not offord
to Make the change. By the Mid eighties it and the Carillon
and Grenville were the only brood gouge lines left in Conodo,
ond this situation continued until 1889 when the former
Cobourg and Peterborough lines were abandoned. As the rail­
way was 5 ft. 6 in. gouge to the end it is likely that the
original locomotives survived until then when they were no
doubt scrapped hoving served For 35 years.
So ended the story of a railway which hod been conceived
with such optimism and which proved such a disappoint.ent. It
is difficult to tell what might have happened if circumstances
hod permitted the building of a more substantial bridge across
Rice Lake. Would this now have been a ~oin connecting link in one of Canodo
s Major roilwoy syste.s and would Cobourg have
beco .. e a large roilwoy junction, or would the line have suffered
the Fate of so Many other branch lines in the latcr twentieth
century? This is difficult or i~rossiblc to soy, but it is true
that the Cobourg and Peterborough achieved three distinctlons;
it built the longest roilway bridge in Canada. Portions of the
line were o~ong the first to be obondoned in Conodo. The re­
IIIoining port of the line becolllc the second-ta-Iost brood gouge.
Althovgh the project foiled to achieve it, objective, the con­
struction of such a long bridge wos a good example of the spirit
of the railway pioneers, a spirit which in so mony other cases
pushed roil way lines on to success and helped to build the
network which helped to bind together the notion.
Clarke, T.C. ~On the action of th~ ice on the bridge at Rice
Lake, Canadian Journal, Toronto. June 1855.
rout J.M. & E. Railways of Canodo, Toronto. 1871.
Deportment of Transport: Statutory History of Steam
Electric Railways in Canada, Ottowa.
Lavollee O.S.A. The Rise ond roll of the Provincial Gouge,
Canadian Roil, February 1963.
eefer, 50.uel Report of the aoord
of Canodo, Homilton.
Bock Cover:
of Railway Com~issioners
In the FoIl of 1954 Jim Shaughnessy of Troy, New York photogIaphed
Central Vermonts No, 450 on the head end of a drag eli_bing up to
the divide near State Line, Moss. Photo frail! on olbu .. in the CRHA
Archives, 5,S.Worthen Collection.

Demande en ligne