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Canadian Rail 419 1990

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Canadian Rail 419 1990

Canadian Rail
No. 419

tsSN 000&-4875
EDITOR: Fred F. Angus
Douglas N. W. Smith
PRODUCTION: A. Stephen Walbridge
CARTOGRAPHER: William A. Germaniuk
LAYOUT: Fred F. Angus
for your membership in the CRHA. which includes a
subscription 10 Canadian Rail, write 10:
CAHA, P.O. Box 1
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Rates: in Canada: $2B.
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TING: Procel Printing
THE BUSINESSCAR ……………………………………………………………………………………. . 212
Canadian Rail IS continually In need of news. stories. historical data. photos. maps and other material. Please send all contributions to
the editor. Fred F Angus.
3021 Trafalgar Ave. Montreal. P.O H3Y 1 H3. No payllent can be made for contributions. but the
will be given credit lor material submitted. Material will be returned to the contributor If requested Remember Knowledge
is of little value unless It is shared with others.
Frederick F. Angus Hugues W. Bonin J. Christopher Kyle
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The Reid Newfoundland Company
and Its Illfluence on Newfollndland
1898 to 1923
Since the abandonment of the railway in Newfoundland in 1988, there has been considerable interest expressed in hearing more about this
narrow gauge system which was once of such importance to the colony, and later to the province. In this issue of Canadian Rail we
are fortunate to be able to
present two excellent papers dealing with the Reid Newfoundland Company which operated the railway and
steamship lines for
many years. In Czar of Newfoundland, Mr. Peter Locke gives a brief biography of Sir Robert Reid, the builder of much
of the Newfoundland Railway, and details his connection with the railway and development in Newfoundland in general. The second paper
deals with the, seemingly unfair, competition between the railway and the coastal steamers, all
owned by the same company. We hope our
members will enjoy reading about this most interesting chapter in our railway history.
Czar of Newfoundlalld
A Profile of Sir Robert Gillespie Reid
By Peter D. Locke
The Reid family name has enjoyed a special status within
Newfoundland history as land developers, engineers, and
industrialists. Newfoundlands crippling economic dependency
on external political entities and markets has probably contributed
to a distinct shortage
of captains of industry; men who have come
to the island and altered the course of development as have few
before them.
Robert Oillespie Reid first came to Newfoundland in
the fall
of 1889, and over the course of the next three decades his
on the development of the island as an economic,
political, and social community was decisive. R.O. Reids ventures
out in Newfoundland history because, taken collectively,
they represent an ambitious but only partially successful
effort to
realize the islands potential
as a diversified, resource-based economic
Through his work, R.O. Reid not only created a physical
with the construction of the railway and lesser undertakings,
but he
also began the process of breaking down the isolation and
of Newfoundland society. While it is difficult to
measure precisely, R.O. Reid and his descendants have thus left a
distinct cultural and
This research paper will detail the initial ventures in which
Robert ~illespie Reid became involved in Australia, Canada, and
the United States, and the impact on Newfoundlanders resulting
from his involvement
in the islands industry, transportation, and
As one would expect, the central importance of
the construction of the Newfoundland Railway amongst the
endeavours of R.O. Reid will necessitate a special focus on this
undertaking. Indeed, it is for the
construction of the Newfoundland
Railway and its subsequent operation by the Reid Newfoundland
Company as well as for his steamship operations that R.O. Reid is
best remembered.
The various other commercial undertakings of
the Reid Newfoundland Company Ltd. will also be dealt with, the
of which were power, transpOt1ation, mining, pulp and
paper, and land development concerns.
The final section of this paper will deal with the intangible
contributions which Reid
made to Newfoundland. I think that it is
impossible to verify the impact
on Newfoundland culture and
society resulting from R.O.
Reids ventures. I do believe, however,
that it would be amiss for
me to ignore the role played by Reids
concerns in easing the isolation and segregation which pervaded
Newfoundland society5 R.O. Reids enterprises also provided
alternative sources
of income in an economy with a crippling
reliance on a single major resource industry, and gave the colony
a taste
of progress in things material that had been previously
unknown. Joseph
R. Smallwood promised to drag Newfoundland
kicking and screaming into the twentieth century. Considering the
progress that had been realized by the time Smallwood
premier, Im notquite sure where R.O. Reid had to start dragging,
but certainly to characterize the islands transportation and
communications links as backwards would have been rather
Youth and Early Engineering Achievements
of Robert G. Reid
Robert Gillespie Reid was a native-born Scotsman whose
family hailed from the village of Coupar-Angus, near Perth, and
where he was born in 1842. Reids father owned a number of small
linen mills
which served the local population, but when his son left
school at seventeen he was apprenticed as a stone-mason at a near­
quany. It was while working as an apprentice stone-mason that
R.G. Reid developed
what is best described
as a natural intuition for
engineering, in that the
man had no formal
education in the
discipline apart from that
he had received on the
apprenticeship lasted
until 1862, after
time he decided to
continue on in his trade
until word was received
Scotland of gold
strikes in Australia.
Leaving his native
Scotland in 1865, R.G.
constantly occupied in the building of bridges, railways, and
Further contracts for the construction of bridges on the
Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway (QMO&O)
gave Reid additional experience in engineering on the continent.
During this engagement R.G. Reid made the acquaintance of the
wealthy, influential
men who headed the Canadian Pacific Railway
and the Bank
of Montreal and who were to remain his close friends
throughout his life. I think it is
a valuable measure of R.G. Reids
stature as an engineer and a developer that he could count among
peers such men as Sir William Van Horne and Lords Strathcona
andMount Stephen. I I 12
For some fi ve
years following the
completion of his work
for the
Reid was engaged in
bridge building and
railway construction in
the State of Texas.
Following the steady
ex pansion of the
American railroad
Reid journeyed
Australia with
intention of prospecting
gold with a number
The CPR bridge neal Lachine, Que. as it appeared when new in 1887.
network, R.G. Reid was
responsible for the
construction of all
bridges on the
International Railway
which ran from Austin
to Laredo on the
Mex ican-American
Border.) Reid also took
of companions.)
These young men soon became discouraged with the
prospects of easy wealth, however, and Reid was left to his own
recourse. Reid turned to the manufacture and sale of stone ovens
for baking bread in order to earn a living, saving the proceeds while
engaging in mining ventures and the construction of public works.8
While in Australia, R.G. Reid began to build a lasting
reputation as a man capable of undertaking exacting tasks in
construction engineering, especially in bridge building. With his
es as a competent and cost-efficient engineering contractor
confirmed, R.G. Reid left Australiaforthe North American continent
in 1871. Reid came first to Canada, a country in which, at that time,
man with his talents could become quite wealthy. R.G. Reid
brought with him his son, William Duff Reid, and a wife, Harriet
Reid, whom he had married in 1866
The union ofR.G. Reid and
wife yielded two other sons, Harry Duff Reid and Robert
Gillespie Reid Junior, born in 1872 and 1876 respectively, and a
daughter, Nellie Reid, whose birthdate has proved to be
R.G. Reids first major North American contract came
when he was engaged to undertake the construction of the
International Bridge across the Niagara River near Buffalo, New
York. Reid completed the work in 1872 and from that time on was on the construction
all iron and masonry bridges over some two hundred and fifty miles
of the Southern Pacific Railway. In fulfilling his contract with the
International Railway, Reid built a bridge
in 1882 over the Rio
Grande River linking the United States and Mexico. This structure,
the International Bridge, was Reids pinnacle of achievement in
American construction engineering and bridge building.
Over the course of the next eight years, until 1890 when his
involvement with Newfoundland began, R.G. Reid occupied himself
with work for the Canadian Pacific, Canadian Government, and
Intercolonial Railways.
Among the challenges faced by Reid
while working for
Canadian Pacific on the railroad north of Lake
Superior was the excavation of a tunnel through four hundred and
fifty feet
of solid granite. Reids ability as a bridge builder was also
demonstrated during the
1880s by the construction of two remarkable
The Lachine Bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River
near Montreal was almost a mile in length and was completed by
R.G. Reid
in under half a year.
In 1889 Reid also contracted to build the Grand Narrows
Bridge between Cape Breton and the Nova Scotian mainland.
While the actual length
of this structure was not extraordinary, at
around sevent
een hundred feet, the actual process of laying the
masonry foundation was. The Grand Narrows Bridge was
prefabricated in Montreal by the Dominion Bridge Company, and
Sir Robert C. Reid and COllstruction workers at Camp Number 3, Southern Harbour in 1891 or 1892. Reid is the closest man to the
camera, and
is wearing a bowler hat with his hand resting upon his knee ..
Centre Jor Nell101llzdland Studies Archives. Memorial University oj Nell10lll1dland, Photo MF-23J (1).
then was shipped to Grand Narrows. An iron forge was set up on
the site for the express
purpose of producing rivets, and a fleet of
scows were used to facil itate the sinking of masonry foundations.
Before beginning construction, Reid spent some tluee weeks
testing sea bed sediments and measuring the currents running
through the
Grand Narrows.17 During the construction of the
Grand Narrows Bridge, Reid
contracted severe rheumatism, a
of prolonged exposure to cold water. This condition was to
weaken him
progressively while buil.ding the Newfoundland
Railway, and contributed to
his early demise at only 66 years of
age. IS
Narrow Gauge Across Newfoundland
R.G. Reid
and the Newfoundland Railway
Robert G. Reid visited SI. Johns Newfoundland in the fall
of 1889 shortly after completing the construction of the Grand
Narrows Bridge in
Nova Scotia. While working in Nova Scotia,
Reid became aware
of the controversy and difficulties faced by the
Whiteway and
Thornburn administrations in Newfoundland over
the construction
of a railway from St. Johns to Rantem, with
branch lines to Harbour Grace and Placentia.
Reid decided to stay
Newfoundland after the government called tenders for the
completion of the main line to Halls Bay. Reid offered to complete
a railway
of261 miles between Rantem and Halls Bay within five
years at a cost
of $15,600 per mile. Reid further agreed in his
contract offer to provide
the requisite rolling stock for the railway,
and to
operate the branch line to Placentia free of charge
government accepted Reids bid, and the contract to build the
railway was signed on June
16, 1890, with payment in the form of
40-year 3% government bonds.
Why did R.G. Reid decide to divert his attention to the
of the Newfoundland Railway rather than pursuing the
lucrative contracts available in railway construction
in Canada and
the United States?
The discouraging history of Newfoundlands
finances and
of her political turmoil would almost certainly have
served to deter all but the foolhardy from
engaging in such an
enterprise, with so many unpredictable variables involved. According
l.W. McGrath in his lecture The 1898 Railway Contract, R.G.
would have continued his work in Canada, however. his
family no longer wished to
join their fathers travels across the
continent. Faced with the reality
of his family wishing to adopt a
more settled lifestyle, R.G. Reid decided that the challenge of
railroad construction in Newfoundland would suit his ambitions
Upon completion of the
railway to the Exploits River, it
was decided by the
government to
continue the line from the Exploits
River along the
most direct route
possible to
Grand Lake and then
the west coast to POI·t-aux­
Basques. Having profited from
first contract, R.G.
Reid signed, on
May 16, 1893, the contract to
continue construction
of the narrow
gauge railway a further
distance of
some 285 miles. According to this
second contract, Reid was to
complete the railway by 1897 at a
of $15, 600 per mile to be
paid in 3
l/2% Newfoundland
Government bonds. Structures
necessary to service the railway
such as access roads,
stations, water
towers and so forth would also be
constructed by Reid, but at
government expense. Another
contract signed by Reid on the same
day charged him with operating
the Placentia branch line and the
NeHfoundland Railway bridge at Codroy on the islands west coast circa 1900. Centre
for NeHfoundland Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Photo: MF-321(2J.
railway from Placentia Junction to Port-aux-Basques for ten years
September 1, 1893. For this service, R.G. Reids interests
received five thousand acres
of land as payment for each mile of the
485 mile lineY
The governments choice ofR.G. Reid to build the islands
railroad proved to be a wise one, as work proceeded on schedule
and within budget.
Reid showed an uncommon willingness to
absorb losses which occurred within his jurisdiction, refusing to
with cap-in-hand to the Newfoundland Government. During the
of the 1893 operating contract Reid decided he would
consult his
chief engineer, a Mr. Massey, on the terms of the
eement. The two men agreed that the railroad would be
operated year round and that all losses on operations would be
borne by R.G. Reid, but Massey was sub
sequently immobilized by
snow on a westbound train and decided to wire Reid and advise him
to agree to
operate only during the summer. Reid had neither
signed the deal, nor had it become legally binding, but having
already given his
word through a non-binding verbal agreement, he
decided not to
go back on the agreement
By April 1898 the Newfoundland Railway had been
completed by R.G. Reid and
his team of engineers and surveyors,
many of whom were also Scotsmen
R.G. Reids sons had
participated extensively in the construction of the line, acquiring in
the process a vast
knowledge ofrailroad construction and operation.
They would remain in
command of the Newfoundland Railway
1923, when ownership reverted to the Newfoundland
Reid had also completed, as part of a contract
ed in 1897, the construction of the branch lines to Lewisporte
and Tilton, and the extension
of the branch line from Harbour
Grace to CarbonearY Faced with a depressed economy and the
prospect of three thousand unemployed railroad labourers, the
government decided to encourage R.G. Reid to develop some of
his sizable land holdings. Reid was uncertain about the future of
railway operations on the is.lalld, however, and therefore while
being aware
of the resource potential of his properties he did not see
the develop them.28
Realizing that the operations of the railway would in all
likelihood remain unprofitable, and with a
pressing need for stable
employment, the Winter government
signed a contract in 1898
with Reid charging him with the Railways operation until 1951.
Under the tenns of the agreement, Reid would absorb all losses on
operations. He WOUld, however, receive 2500 acres of land for
each mile of the railway, and would be given ownership of the
entire line at the contract expiry date in return for a $1,000,000
payment. Other key clauses of the 1898 contract transferred
of the government-owned dockyard to R.G. Reid for
$325,000 and the telegraph system for $125,000. To complete the
picture, Reid was also to purchase and
operate a fleet of eight
steamers which would call at settlements not served by the railway.
In return for this service, a subsidy would be provided
of $92,000
Despite the monopoly position in transportation which the
Reid Newfoundland Railway (as it
came to be titled) enjoyed, and
a diversification into other interests, the railway remained in the red
with steadily increasing losses.
The renegotiation of the 1898
contract in 190 I, under the government of Robert (later Sir Robert)
Bond, did not remove responsibility for losses from
under Reids
shell, and these losses steadily mounted. Unfortunately, for both
the Newfoundland Government
and R.G. Reid, the development
of the interior which was to
mitigate the losses incurred by
the railway was
never realized.
While the railway did make
possible the development of pulp
and paper and Jogging operations
at Grand Falls, Bishops Falls
later Corner Brook, and
spurred I imited mining operations
in the islands interior, these
developments proved to be
The Newfoundland
Railway failed to earn money for
numerous reasons. In addition
to a
lack of industrial traffic, there
ad istinct lack of passenger
The narrow gauge of the
railway, its high average elevation
track curvature, and the
restricted motive power available
meant that trains could only travel
at relativel y
slow speeds and wi th
limited freight capacity.
Problems encountered with the
Ships in {hydock at SI. Johns in 1954. This dock was one of the assets owned by the Reid
Newfollndland Company. CRHA Archives, Toohey Collection 54-156.
vagaries of Newfoundland winters, especially in the Gaff Topsails
region, resulted in hi-gh snow~c1earing costs and unreliable
In addition, the operation of the spectacularly
unprofitable branch lines proved to bea burden which was impossible
to sustain.
By 1920, with the railway under the presidency of
W.O. Reid; and with losses totalling over six million dollars, the
Newfoundland Company was searching for a way out. This
came on July I, 1923, with the transfer of the railway to the
Newfoundland Government in return for $2,000,000 in 5% bonds,
thus ending the Reids responsibility for the Newfoundland Railway,33
The Reid Newfoundland Company Limited
One of the provisions resulting from renegotiation of the
contract in 1901 concerned the creation of a limited liability
company to control the holdings of R.G. Reid. While in England
enlisting investors for the construction of a pulp mill at Grand
Lake, R.G. Reid found that he would be able to attract substantially
more investment capital if he incorporated his holdings rather than
them under his name. It was pointed out to Reid that, in the
of his demise, the dissolution of corporate assets and the
payment of outstanding debts could become quite complicated.
Tile Reid Newfoundland Company Limited was therefore founded
on August 2, 1901, to manage the interests of R.G. Reid and his
sons 35
The Reid Newfoundland Company Limited was begun with
an initial share capital
of $25,000,000, with the controlling interest
in the
company held by R.G. Reid. It would be accurate to describe
Reid Newfoundland Company as a holding company for a
number of resource and industrial development concems scattered
throughout the island, engaged chiefly in lumbering, pulp and
paper, hydro
power generation and mining operations. The balance
of the activities undertaken by these concerns involved active
exploration, extraction, and
processing of raw resources taken
from the
over four million acres of Reid lands (about one -sixth of
the area of Newfoundland). However, some of the concerns
constituting the Reid Newfoundland Company existed for the sole
purpose of athacting investment and industry from external sources,
essence managing a landlord-tenant relationship36
Newfoundland Timber Estates was the first venture to
result from the incorporation
of the Reid interests. Formed in 1903
by William
Duff Reid and a lumber merchant, Harry J. Crowe, this
company was engaged in sawmilling operations and lumbering
around Millertown and Glenwood in central Newfoundland. In
Newfoundland Timber Estates was purchased by Gander­
Gambo Pulp and Lumber Co., but the Reids interests in sawmill
operation and lumbering were maintained through the purchase of
a large number of the latters shares]7
The exploitation of the islands timber stands continued to
be carried
out after the demise of Newfoundland Timber Estates by
.~ ~.
, .~·r
~ …….
. .. , .;.-….•• ..a. ,, .._,
The Caribou about to leave St. Johns, in October 1954,jor Port AI/x Basques 547 miles away.
CRHA Archives, Toohey Collection 54-150.
the Newfoundland Products Corporation, the Newfoundland Power
and Paper Company, and Mines and Forests (Newfoundland)
Limited. The Newfoundland Products Corporation was founded in
and managed timber stands for the Reids in western
Newfoundland. Surveys were also carried out in return for water
on the Hamilton and Northwest Rivers in Labrador, and by
1920 the corporation had
become involved in producing chemicals
and industrial products, including cement.
Newfoundland Power
and Paper Company, founded in 1922, contracted with Armstrong,
Whitworth and Company in 1922 to build the Corner Brook paper
mill. Newfoundland
Power and Paper would, in turn, erect the
hydro station at
Deer Lake that was to power the mill and would
lead in the construction
of Corner Brook itself3
With the opening
of the Corner Brook mill in 1925 the Newfoundland Power and
Paper began to lose direction, and the
companys Corner Brook
operations were subsequently dissolved between 1928 and 1938.
Although Newfoundland Power and Paper interests were controlled
at first by the International Pulp and Paper
Company, and from
onwards by Bowater Newfoundland Pulp and Paper Mills
Limited, the Reid Newfoundland Company continued to engage in
the leasing of timber and mineral rights to the new owners.39
Mines and Forests (Nfld.) Limited and the
Gander Valley
Power and Paper Company, incorporated in 1920 and 1924
respectively, were engaged almost exclusively in the
of R.G. Reids timber concessions and did little themselves in the
of extraction or processing. Mines and Forest (Nfld.) was a
Reid Newfoundland Company subsidiary from 1920-28 and from 1941-62, and as its purpose the leasing
of mineral and timber
The Gander Valley Power was built around plans to
construct an $8,000,000
pulp and paper mill in the Gander area in
a joint venture with Bowater. This fell through when Bowater
decided to purchase the Corner Brook mill outright, and with the
of the Gander Deal came the demise of Gander Valley Power
and Paper.
The legacy of industrial and resource development begun
by R.G. Reid and perpetuated by the Reid Newfoundland
also entails tl1ree other major enterprises. Newfoundland Atlantic
Fisheries operated from
19 I 7 to 1926 and was involved in the
of frozen fish to English markets and the import of poultry,
beef, and
pork products. Throughout the 1920s, the Reid
Newfoundland Company acquired the mining operations of R.G.
Rendell Materials, and from this
company fOlmed a number of
minor subsidiaries engaged in mining in locations such as Tilt
South Brook, and Bell Island. These operations were
invariably unprofitable and
cost the Reid Newfoundland Company
dearly. Land development, involving the promotion of mining,
electric power, and oil
exploration schemes figured prominently in
the interests
of the Reid Newfoundland Company after 1945. As
an alternative to direct participation, Reid land concessions have
been offered for sale to both corporate and individual buyers.
According to information contained
in the Reid collection at the
Newfoundland and
Labrador Public Archives, the last such venture
occurred in 1983.
Two views which illustJCIte graphically
the difficulties
of railway opeJCItiol1 in
the winter in
cel1lJCI1 Nel110undland,
Both photographs were taken in the
GafJTopsail region, near the summit,
ahout 1900,
SOOI1 after the line opened.
Centre for Newfoulldiand Studies,
Memorial UniversityofNeH10undland,
Official car Terra Nova, buill in 1892, at the sra/ion at Sr. Johns in 1954. CRHA Archives, Toohey Collection 54-136.
Observation-end sleepil/g car Gra/ld Falls
al SI. Johns il1 1954. CRHA Archives, Toohey Collection 54-134.
R.G. Reid in Retrospect
Robert Gillespie Reids impact on the lives of the people of
Newfoundland and their industries has been thus far couched in
economic terms, describing the impact which
Reids ventures had
in adding to the economy of the island including its transportation
and communications infrastructure. Without dispute R.G. Reid is
indeed best
remembered for his endeavours as an engineer and
of railways and bridges, as well as for the numerous other
enterprises to which he turned his hand. I think that it is true to
assert that he was in the final analys
is a contemporary of other
great men of the era such as Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, Lord
Strathcona, and
Sir William Van Horne.
While R.G. Reid was
variously described as the
Czar of Newfollndland and the
unnamed King in newspaper accounts of his death in 1908, the
man also held positions as a director
of Canadian Pacific, the Bank
of Montreal, and the Royal Trust Company.4J It is therefore clear
that R.G.Reid not only was a man of great statllre within
Newfoundland, but on a continental basis as well.
In addition to this
somewhat capitalistic appraisal of R.G.
Reid, I think that a
case can also be made for the argument that R.G.
Reids greatest and most undeniable impact was on the social habit,
unity, and cultural identity
of Newfoundlanders.
R.G. Reids
enterprises brought Newfoundlanders together as never before,
both as
employees and patrons. During its construction under Reid
the railway brought thousands
of men from around the island
together. In essence, Reid had drafted and assembled an
army of
labourers. R.G. Reids legacy of industrial and resource development,
on after his death by his sons under the Reid Newfoundland
Company Limited, resulted in a cluster of what were essentially
company towns. Corner Brook, Bishops Falls, Deer Lake,
Botwood, and Grand Falls were settled by men and
women from
Newfoundland who had generally left the privation of the
fishery in hope
of a better future.5
Before the
advent of the railway, an island-wide telegraph
system, and the
Reid Newfoundland Company coastal steamers,
travel and
communication in Newfoundland was very restricted,
especially during the interminable winter months. Travel within a
of around 20 miles of the community was possible through
the use
of large fishing boats, but then only if the coast was free of
Schooners and the like were generally occupied in the fishery
in the summer months, spending the winter resting on blocks while
under repair,
orelse in Caribbean and American waters. Steamships
visited the smaller coastal settlements
of the island only occasionally,
bringing fishing crews, returned from the Labrador cod fishery,
sealers home form the front. In the coastal settlements subject to
ice fouling and especially in those along the northeast coast, the
only method
of travel available of any flexibility was the horse and
The transportation link afforded by the Newfoundland
Railway and the Reid coastal steamers ended this isolation. Where
their personal finances allowed, people no
longer had to contemplate
long periods without access to the larger centres of the colony or
traditional outport
mecca, St. Johns. Newfoundlanders found
that they had not only obtained a railway,
but a new social mobility
that assisted
in promoting our cultural growth and in making
wealth more obtainable through greater opportunity for
By the same token, the coming of the railway and the cross­
channel service between POI·t-aux-Basques and North
Nova Scotia resulted in a migration of Newfoundlanders to the
North American continent.
The United States was the prime
of this exodus, with the majority of young men and
women going to the Boston States, to New York, Boston, and
It has been estimated that by the 1920s the wealth
home by these emigres equalled that generated by the
islands cod fishery after debts to merchants had been paid and
supplies bought.
Along with their Yankee money, these men and
women also brought back with them a new concept of what was an
acceptable standard
of living. Acculturation within American
society resulted in the importation
of new work procedures and
practices, different clothing
styles, a better trained and experienced
and a belief in material progress that contrasted with the
hand-to-mouth reality
of the cod fishery51
In a rather peculiar sense, one can perceive the net impact
of R.G. Reid and his enterprises as being quite a good example of
the tendency for the results of initiatives taken on the island to be
the opposite
of what would be expected elsewhere. Reid believed
his enterprises, and especially the railway, to be the harbingers
a new era of economic growth and diversification in Newfoundland.
This would have been the end result
elsewhere, and yet it appears
in retrospect as if the railway and its primary sector offspring were
intended to function more as agents
of social and cultural change
then as viable enterprises. In the case of the railway, a line built
from nowhere to nowhere, this
unarguably appears to be the
verdict. Considering the exportation
of profits from those few
Reid-inspired ventures which achieved a
degree of permanency,
much the
same can be said. I think that while R.G. Reid should be
remembered as a pioneer and a man
of industry and ambition who
left a lasting impression
of the soul of Newfoundland, we should
also realize that as an economic colonialist he stood with the best
of his time.
The symbol of the Ne applied to the railways rolling stock. CRHA Archives,
Toohey Collection 54-13S.
322 in t!Jeyardat St. Johns
in October 1954. CRHA Archives,
Toohey Collection 54-133.
. . -~ . -..
.: rdR> THE . Spb:R.iKMAN~:1Q:u:R 1sf
,. .. . AND . ll-EALTH:str. KE R ..
. . .. . ,;. . –, _ . .,-< ., -
The cover of a very attractive SO-page guide book produced
by the Reid NeHifoundland Company about 1910 to promote
tourism on the island.
It contains maps, tour schedules and
much information
of use to tourists.
of Fred Angus.
1. J.W. McGrath, The 1898 Railway Contract, Newfoundland
Historical Society (St. Johns: Newfoundland Historical Society,
1973) page
2. J.W. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway,
ewfoundland Historical Society CSt.. Johns; Newfoundland
Historical Society, 1971) page 25.
3. Sir R.G. Reid Dead, The Gazette (Montreal), June 3, 1908.
Newfoundland Company Papers (RNCP), File No. 522 Death
Notice Clippings
of RG. Reid, Public Archives of Newfoundland
and Labrador
(P ANL). Footnote references to the Reid New found land
Company Papers (RNCP) and the Public Archives
of Newfoundland
nd Labrador (PANL) will be made hereafter using these acronyms.
4. Ibid.
5. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, pp. 24-
6. Sir R.G. Reid Died in Montreal, The News, June 3, 1908.
RNCP, File 522, PANL.
7. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland
8. Sudden Death of Sir Robert Reid, The Montreal Daily
Witness, June
3,1908. RNCP, File 522, PANL.
9. McGrath, KG. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 7.
10. Finding Aid No. 95, RNCP, PANL, p. I.
11. Sir Robert Reid Dead at Montreal, The Morning Chronicle,
4,1908. RNCP, File 522, PANL.
Last Tribute to Sir Robert G. Reid, The Moming Chronicle,
8,1908. RNCP, File 522, PANL.
13. Sir Robel1 Reid died in Montreal, The News, June 3, ]908.
RNCP, File 522, PANL.
14. Death
of Sir Robert G. Reid took place today, The Daily Star,
3,1908. RNCP, File 522, PANL.
15. Ibid.
16. Michael MacKenzie, Intercolonial Railway: Cape Breton
Line, Glimpses
of the Past (Robinson-Blackmore: Grand Falls,
1984) p. 55.
17. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 8.
18. Sir R.G. Reid died in Montreal, The News, June 3, 1908.
RNCP, File 522, PANL.
19. McGrath, The 1898 Railway Contract, p. 2.
20. A.R. Penney, Centennial of Newfoundland Railway
1881 -1981, St. Johns: Creative Printers, 1981, p. 6.
21. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 6.
22. McGrath, The 1898 Railway Contract, p. 5.
23. Penney,
p. 15.
24. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 13.
25. Ibid, p. 12.
26. Ibid,
p. 21.
27. Penney, pp. l5 -27.
28. Penney,
p. 27.
29. McGrath,
KG. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 14.
30. Ibid, pp. 18 -19.
3J. Ibid, pp. 22 -23.
32. Summary
of Main Reasons for Losses in Operation Reid
Newfoundland Railway, pp. 16 –
33. PelUley, p. 55.
34. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway,
16 -17.
35. Penney,
p. 35.
36. Backlog
Project Report Reid Newfoundland Company
Collection, RNCP, PANL, pp. ii -iv.
37. Ibid,
p. iii.
38. Ibid, p. iii.
39. Ibid,
p. iv.
40. Ibid,
p. iv.
41. Ibid, p. iv.
42. Last Tribute
to Sir Robert G. Reid, The morning Chronicle,
8,1908. RNCP, File 522, PANL.
43. Sudden Death
of Sir Robert Reid, The Montreal Daily
Witness, June 3,1908. RNCP, File 522, PANL.
44. McGrath,
RG. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 25.
45. Ibid.
p. 18.
46. McGrath, The 1898 Railway Contract, p. I.
47. Ibid, p. 1.
48. McGrath, R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway, p. 25.
49. Ibid, p. 21.
50. Ibid,
p. 22.
51. Ibid,
p. 22.
Train standing on the dock at Port Aux Basques. /954. CRHA Archives. Toohey Collection 54-108.
Eastbound Caribou crossing the
causeway at Grand Bay, a few miles east of POri Aux Basques.
CRHA Archives, Toohey Collection
Locomotive number 305 moving on to
the turntable at St. Johns, October
CRHA Archives, Toohey
Collection 54-145.
The eastbound Caribou
climbing up from Grand Lake
to the summit near Pond
Crossing, October 1954.
CRHA Archives, Toohey
Collection 54-123.
Locomotive 312, a
2-8-2, is the front
of the double-headed Caribou
standing in the stalion at Corner Brook.
CRHA Archives, Toohey Collection,
Coastal Steamer and Branch Railway Line
Revenue Competition in the Reid
Newfoundland Company
By Peter D. Locke
Building on Dreams: The Reids and the
Creation of
an Island Railroad
Coastal Newfoundland in the 1990s is still a difficult
to which to provide scheduled freight and passenger
service. This factor
has been recognized since merchants from St.
Johns, Bonavista,
and other communities began such service as an
accessory function to the fishery, and particularly the inshore
in the middle of the nineteenth century. As identified in
the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Newfoundland
Transportation Volume
I, ….. the reality of a tiny population of
than 500,000 people occupying a ribbon of development
extending over 10,000 miles posed problems of gargantuan
to governments charged with the responsibility of
providing basic service including adequate transportation
communications.2 Before the development of the provinces road
and the beginning of the air age, the only means of
delivering such service
was by sea or rail. The purpose of this paper
is to describe the competition between the coastal steamers and
branch rail lines of the Reid Newfoundland Company during the
years 1909-1923, the developments which led up to this, and the
ramifications for the earning potential of these branch rail lines.
ward of the government today, scheduled freight and
passenger service to the OlItports began under the banner of the
Reid Newfoundland Company and
its progenitor, (Sir) Robert G.
Reid. Reid first became involved with island transportation in the
fall of 1889, when he came to St. Johns to tender for the completion
of a railway line
from Placentia Junction to HaJJs Bay, on which
the present day town of Springdale
is located. J Reid secured to
contract from the government without much dispute, and proceeded
to work on the line to Halls Bay. By 1893, work had progressed
to a point near the Exploits River, to the satisfaction of both the
Reids and the Newfoundland Government. Reflecting their
in Reids abiJities -and concern over an impending
election –
the Whiteway government decided in 1893 to extend the
Reids contract
to cover the railways completion to the Bay of
and then on to Port-aux-Basques: This would bring the
length of
the main line to 547 miles. In that the Reids were not only
the Islands railway during the period 1893-1898, but
were operating the trains which ran on it as well, their role in the
future of Newfoundland transportation was guaranteed.
In 1898 the line across the Island was finally completed,
and at 7:20 p.m. on June 29 of that year the first passenger train left
St. Johns for POI·t-aux-Basques. Having completed the railway,
the Newfoundland Government was now faced with the task of
running it. The government was fully conscious of the difficulties
in running a railway. The experience of running the
Placentia and Harbour Grace lines
in the pre-Reid years weighed
on the collective minds of the newly elected Winter­
Morina cabinet.
Fortunately, negotiations with R.G. Reid resulted
in the 1898 Operating Contract, in which the Reids were to run the
railway, the St. Johns drydock,
the telegraph system, and were to
and operate the St. Johns street car service. All this was
in return for 2500 acres per mile of track. In addition, Reid agreed
to build and operate a fleet of eight coastal steamers for a $92,000
annual subsidy
from the Newfoundland Government.
These vessels were defended
as a necessary adjunct to the
existing rail operations, linking settlements bypassed
by the railway
and funnelling freight, passengers, and mail to the main railway
line –
an asset in the search for revenue to justify the main lines
It was also agreed that should these coastal steamers
earn a profit, such a surplus
in revenues would revert to the
Newfoundland Government.
Although the
1898 Operating Contract was renegotiated in
its entirety in 190 I under the government of (Sir) Robert
Bond, the clause concerning
the construction and the maintenance
of coastal steamers was left untouched.
The Reids carried on with
their contractual
responsibilities, operating the Islands rail and
coastal steamer service
at a loss which amounted to some $152,122
by 1908.
By that year, the Newfoundland Governments
foreboding of unprofitability having been realized, the Reids were
casting about for some kind of development which would return
on their considerable investment in the Islands economy.
With only the construction of a paper mill
at Grand Falls (completed
in 1909) in the works, the Reid Newfoundland Company, now
under the leadership
of William D. Reid, following the death of his
on June 3, 1908, turned to lobbying for the construction of
a series of branch rail lines to complement main line operations. 10,
A tie between (Sir) Robert Bonds Liberals and (Sir) Edmund
Morriss Peoples Party
in the 1908 general election in 1909
general election, which was
to result in a run off election in 1909,
would give the Reid interests the necessary political leverage
through campaign contributions
to effect such a move by the
Newfoundland Govemment.
Rails of Despair, A Dream Unfulfilled
On December 9, 1909, the Reid
Newfoundland Company and the Morris
government signed a contract for the construction
of six branch lines to Trepassey, Bay de Verde,
s Content, Bonavista, Terrenceville, and
Bonne Bay, an estimated 250 miles
of rail in
addition to the 547 mile ma
in line and the branches
to Placentia and Harbour Grace,
of 26 and 7 miles
in length respectiveJ
yY 14 II was estimated that
the cost
of building the branch lines, the Morris
governments repayment to the Reids for their
ccessful campaign in the May 8, 1909 run-off
election, would amount to some $4,000,000.
This was a princely sum in those times. so the
government defended the branch line
tion program on the grounds that the branches would
de an overland, all-season transportation rOllte to the larger
lltports of Newfoundlands northeast coast and would increase
ger and freight revenues on the main line.
The truth be known. however, the branch railway lines
covered in the 1909 contract were built, as discussed in Frank
tins More Blood, Sweat and Money. The Development of
Branch Railways in Newfoundland:
… to provide immediate employment to those who had suffered as
a res
ult of a failure in the fisheries. The Morris railway platform
was an elec
tioneering platform … a look at the districts which
Two views of Newfoundland coasla! ships
phed in J 954. M. V Baccalieu
is seen
01 Port Aux Basques, while M. V
Burgeo is pictured al North Sydney,
N.S. C
RHA Archives, Toohey Collection
-188 and 54-/90.
The S.S. Kyle (large ship) and the Finback at Carbonear, preparing to leave for the ice ill 1965. Centre for Nel110undland
Studies Archives, Memorial University of NeH10uI1dland Coll-075.
changed support in the t 909 election (those wbich had been
Liberal in 1908 but wen I Tory in 1909) were the ones in which the
branches were to be const
The financial consequences of constructing these branch
es appeared to have been lost on the government of the day, in
tbat the four lines. wbich were completed to Bay de Verde (52
miles), Bonavista (88 miles), Hearts Content (42 miles), and
Trepassey (106 miles) by 1915, cost considerably more than
estimated -an additional
$3,000,000 in total.
19 However Morriss
Don Quixotic paternalism for the electorate of the northeast coast
did not entirely cloud
his sensibilities for, as was the case with the
1898 Operating
Contract, the Reids were again paid for the actual
construction of the branches, netting a $1 ,SOO,OOO profit, but were
contractually obliged to operate
them within their own resources
Subsidies for the entire railways operation would be limited to a
mail subsidy, wh
ich averaged $SS.808 between the year in which
the first branch line. the Bonavista branch, opened and 1920.11
the branch lines and the main line were to be profitable, the Reids
would have to make them so: the government would not.
By some strange twist, however, the attitude of the
Newfoundland Government towards subsidizing the Reids fleet
of coastal steamers, still sailing under the terms of the 1898
Operating Contract. was quite favourable. In 1911, the total
paid to the Reid Newfoundland Company was some
46,870 for its steamShip service, with an average annual subsidy
increase from J 906 to 1912 of $8,617.
With the opening of the
branch rail lin
es to Bonavista, Trepassey, Bay de Verde, and
Hearts Content from 1911 onwards, the subsidy to the Reid
Newfoundland Companys steamship service was increased to
cover the loss of passengers and freight to these branch rail lines.
From 1912 to 1918, the average annual subsidy increase was some
$20,170, so that by
1918 the Reid Newfoundland coastal steamships
were receiving a $282,S98 subsidy from the Newf
oundland and
Canadian governments, while
the entire Reid Newfoundland Rai Iway
was s
ubsidized to the tune of only $61.2Sl annuallyB As a
percentage then. the railway as a who
le received a subsidy equal to
21.8% of that collected by the coastal service of the same owner,
the Reid
Newfoundland Company.24
Opposite Page. Three views of a mixed traill at St. Johns in 1954. The top photo shows locomotive 594 alld train ready to depart from
the station heading for one of the branch lines. Note diesel 900 (NeHiOllndlandsfirstl11ainline diesel. now preserved) ill the backgrol/nd.
the mixed tmin is under way. while the iJollom view shows Ihe rear of the traill with its ancien! wooden coaches
CRHA Archiles, Toohey Collection 54-109,
54-139, 54-146.
The key point behind these figures in that while the Reids
could not retai n profits from the coastal steamer serv ice, as stipulated
under the 1898 agreement, any losses attributable to the service
would be covered by Newfoundland Government subsidies; these
increased drastically as branch rail lines serving coastal
opened the outports to rail service.
This stands in contrast to the
insufficient mail subsidy paid to the railway, intended as
compensation for carrying mail on
behalf of the government, and
yet not enough for even this function. Whereas in 1917-1918 and
1918-1919 the
book profit made on operating marine equipment
by the Reid Newfoundland Company was $151,581 and $210,792
respectively, the railway recorded a loss for the same years of
$205,351 and $341,924
Despite an average operating loss on the ships Argyle
(Placentia Bay), Petrel (Trinity Bay), Ethie (Bay ofIslands and
Battle Harbour),
Clyde (POlt Union -Lewisporte) and Home
(Notre Dame Bay) of $19,546 per ship in the year 1919 and further
losses for the
same year on the Glencoe, Sagona, Kyle and
other ships serving on the Labrador and south coast as well as
theNorth Sydney-Port-aux-Basques service, the coastal steamers
of the Reid Newfoundland Company recorded a solid, though
illusory profit.
It may be argued that we do not know the full measure of
discriminatOlY subsidization in favom of the coastal steamship
service on the branch railway lines, in that few figures are available
giving a complete breakdown of revenues for each branch line and
its compatriot coastal service. For the time period from July 1920
June 1921 the Reids did keep such a spreadsheet, however,
which gives additional credence to my hypothesis that the unnecessary
duplication of services provided by the Reid Newfoundland
Companys steamers was the chief drain on the earning abilities of
the branch rail lines and the railway. During this period, local
revenues from the Trepassey branch
and its proportion of through
traffic accounted for earnings on the branch itself
of $38,878. The
steamship earnings attributable to the same branch came to a
pittance – $ I
81 -so tbat the income of the former, serving the same
general market as the latter, was greater by
214 times.
Admittedly, this is a worst case scenario, but comparing
cost recovery figures for the
other coastal steamers running parallel
with the branch raillines yields a similar
disparity in earnings.
Total branch earnings as a proportion
of through traffic and from
local revenue for the
Bay de Verde branch rail line totalled $30,013
for the
same period, while the coastal steamer(s) serving the same
area accounted for $2009, a difference of almost 1400%. On the
Hearts Content branch, coastal steamers contributed earnings of
$2,339, wbile the line earned $29,476, while figures for tbe
Bonavista branch were $13,827 and $52,122 respectively.
summarise, for the 12 month period July 1920 -June 1921 the
coastal steamers share
of earnings for the Trepassey, Bay de Verde,
Hearts Content, and Bonavista branch railway Jines was $18,357,
while total
branch earnings attributable to their proportion of
through traffic and local revenue came to $150,492 in total.
Taking into consideration the Reid Newfoundland Railways net
losses in 1920 and 1921
of $1,335, 107 and $1,650,000, there is still
no justification for the unrealistic, politically motivated subsidies
extended to tbe coastal steamers of the Reid Newfoundland
In retrospect, the
solvency of the Reid Newfoundland
Companys coastal steamer service was a fictional creation resulting
from a level
of subsidization against which branch rail line selvice
to the outports could not compete, draining revenues earned from
the main line
in order to maintain branch line services. Although
high annual snowfalls,
engineering and operating difficulties, and
a small market population undoubtedly added to the unprofitability
of the branch lines, the primary reason for their status as economic
failures rests with a series of governments lacking the political
courage to undertake transportation rationalization
in the best
of Newfoundland at the time. To conclude, a 1922 report
by R.C. Morgan on the Reid Newfoundland Company, in
recommending a $185,000 subsidy for railway branch lines, noted
that … while this direct subsidy would not
cover the actual branch
line loss,
it would take care of a large proportion of it, and would
have the merit
of placing the expenditure where it belongs.32
1. Arthur M. Sullivan et. aI., Report of the Commission of InquilY
into Newfoundland Transportation,
Volume 1. Ottawa: Minister
of Supply and Service, Canada, 1978. p. 14.
2. Ibid, pp.
13 -14.
3. A.R. Penney,
A History of the Newfoundland Railway
Volume 1 (1881 -1923). St. Johns: Harry Cuff Publications, 1988.
4. Penney, p. 42.
5. Permey, p. 63. 6. J.W. McGrath,
R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway,
Newfoundland Historical Society (St. Johns: Newfoundland
Historical Society, 1971), p. 13.
7. Ibid, p. 14.
9. Abstract of Statistics from June 30,1903 to June 30,1921.
Reid Newfoundland Company Papers (RNCP), File No. 321, Reid
Newfoundland Railway Statements 1902-19l9,Provincial.Archives
of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
10. Penney, p. 93.
11. A.R. Penney, Centennial Newfoundland Railway 1881 –
1981,. St. Johns: Creative Printers, 1981.
p. 47.
12. Penney,
p. 95.
13. Frank Martin,
More Blood, Sweat and Money: The Development
of the Branch Railways in Newfoundland. St. Johns: Memorial
University Centre for Newfoundland Studies, 1982.
p. 33.
14. Penney, pp. 32 -33.
15. Martin, p. 33.
16. Ibid, p. 33.
17. Ibid,
p. 33.
18. Proposed Reduction
in Train Service June 28, 1921 . RNCP,
File 324, Newfoundland Railway Situation,
192!. PANL.
19. Penney, p. 96.
20. Ibid,
p. 96.
21. Subsidies from Newfoundland and
Canadian Governments.
RNCP, File 324, Newfoundland Railway Situation, 1921. PANL.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid.
Reid Newfoundland Company Ltd. -Operating Marine
Equipment. RNCP, File 312, Railway Claims,
27. Abstract of Statistics from June 30,1903 to June 30,1921.
RNCP, File 321, Reid Newfound Railway Statements 1902 -1919,
Bay Boats (1919). RNCP, File 321, Reid Newfoundland
Railway Statements 1902 -1919, PANL.
29. Estimated Operating Expenses
of Various Branches for Year
Ending June 30th 1921. RNCP, File 311, Branch Line Receipts
1920 -1921, PANL.
30. Ibid.
Abstract of Statistics from June 30,1903 to June 30,1921.
RNCP, File 321, Reid Newfoundland Railway Statements 1902-
1919, PANL.
32. Report of the Government Members of the Rai Iway Commission,
Johns, Newfoundland, lune 15, 1921 n. RNCP, File 324,
Newfoundland Railway Situation 1921,
Abstract of Statistics from June 30, 1903 to June 30, 1921 . Reid
Company Papers. RNCP. File No. 321. Reid
Newfoundland Railway Statements 1902 -1919. Provincial Archives
of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
Bay Boats (1919). Reid Newfoundland Company Papers (RNCP).
File No.
32!. Reid Newfoundland Railway Statements 1902 –
1919. Provincial Archives
of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
Estimated Operating Expenses
of Various Branches for Year
Ending June 30th, 1921 . Reid Newfoundland Company Papers
(RNCP). File No. 311. Branch Line Receipts 1920 -1921. Provincial
of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
Martin, Frank.
More Blood, Sweat and Money: The Development
of the Branch Railways in Newfoundland. St. Johns: Memorial
Centre for Newfoundland Studies, 1982.
I.W., R.G. Reid and the Newfoundland Railway.
Newfoundland Historical Society. SI. Johns: Newfoundland
Historical Society, 1971.
y, A.R. A History of the Newfoundland Railway, Volume
1(1881 -1923). St.
Johns: Harry Cuff Publications, 1988.
Penney, A.R.
Centennial Newfoundland Railway 1881 -1981. SI.
Johns: Creative Printers, 1981.
Proposed Reduction in
Train Service June 28, 1921 . Reid
Newfoundland Company Papers (RNCP). File No. 324.
Newfoundland Railway Situation, 1921. Provincial Archives of
Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
Reid Newfoundland Company Limited -Operating Marine
Equipment. Reid Newfoundland Company Papers (RNCP). File
No. 312. Railway Claims. Provincial Archives
of Newfoundland
and Labrador (PANL).
of the Government Members of the Railway Commission,
St. Johns, Newfoundland, 15th June,
1921 n. Reid Newfoundland
Company Papers (RNCP). File No. 324. Newfoundland Railway
Situation, 1921. Provincial Archives
of Newfoundland and Labrador
Subsidies from Newfoundland and Canadian Governments.
Reid Newfoundland
Company Papers (RNCP). File No. 324.
Newfoundland Railway
Situation,I92!. Provincial Archives of
Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL).
SU.llivan, Arthur M. et. al. Report of the Commission of Inquiry
into Newfoundland Transportation Volume
1. Ottawa: Minister of
Supply and Services, Canada, 1978.
The Last Days of the Newfoundland Railway
By Claude Hoddinott
After more than a century of service, the final run of the railway in Newfoundland took place on September 30, 1988. The vital importance
of the railway
had declined with the opening of the Trans Canada highway across the island in the 1960s, and the main-line passenger
had been discontinued in 1969. In the 1980s the branch lines were closed and finally, in 1988, it was announced that the entire
railway would
be abandoned. Passenger service, via a mixed train, continued through the remote Topsails region until the very end,
long after the other passenger runs
had gone. Our member Claude Hoddinott, of Grand Falls Newfoundland, took a number of
photographs shortly before
the end of service, as well as others after the abandonment. We are pJeased to publish these historic photos
as a conclusion to this series of articles on the Newfoundland Railway
Westbound train 203, bound for
Cornel Brook, photographed
an underpass just west of
Bishops Falls on July 17, 1988.
Passengers at Bishops
Falls ready
to board
mixed train 203
Cornel Brook, July 17,
The lasl Irain crew about to leave
Bishops Falls on September
the lasl day
of operation. Left 10
righI, standing in /ranI of the
/ocomolive, are trainmen Gerald
Turner. Palrick OReillt and William
Penney. Engineer Patrick OReilly
and conductor Carl Dillion stand in
/rant on the track.
More Ihan a year after abandonment.
phOIO shows crews lifling the rails
Moum Moriah, ten miles west of
Comer Brook. on November 10, 1989.
En route to Corner
Brookforthe last time.
The last scheduled
photographed at
Falls slalion on
September JO, 1988.
Page 204
The last I1vo remaining diesels, 943 and
927, at St. Johns on August 27, 1989.
Excluding work train locomotives and
preserved IInits, the rest of the engines
were e
ither sold to Soulh American
countries or scrapped. Eight or ten units
were kepI in lise
for dismantling Ihe
As of January 1990, the only
of the railway remaining was the
ISO-miles between
Bishops Falls and
elarenville, and this was expected LO be
torn up before the end
of 1990.
ow plows parked near
station at Bishops
Falls on November 26,
1989. This once busy rail
is now quiet, and
the plows will never again
battle the snowdrifts over
the Topsails regio
n. It is
A view at the station at St. Johns on
24, 1989.
The first main line diesel locomolive, numher
900, has been preserved and is here shown at
Pippy Park in St. Johns 011 July 8, 1989.
Embankment Update
By David Davies
SEQUEL: On reading the Embankment article in the November­
December 1989 issue
of Canadian Rail, Mr. Leslie Kozma of
Edmonton Alberta wrote supplying more details as well as two
Kozma says the trestle was completed in February 1914 at a
st of $66,270. Employee timetables for the period June 1926
Ihrough October 1928 show a Magoffin
Spur at mile 17.1 with
a capacity for two cars. Trains I and 2 were noted to stop at this
point to exchange mail.
The two photographs were taken by Ray Matthews and are undated,
but are presumed to be the early to mid 1920s. Both are taken from
southern end of the trestle looking north. ADDITION:
The following item should be inserted at the bottom
of the right-hand column on page 186: Western Wheeled Scraper
Co., Aurora. This
company was in business from 1892 to about
1934 and at one time employed 1500 men at Aurora, a city 30 miles
of Chicago. As its name implies, the company started off in
life making horse-drawn scrapers and graders but soon got involved
in the construction
of dump cars for permanent standard gauge
rail ways or rickety and temporary narrow gauge lines.
The customers
were mines, steel plants and all kinds
of construction projects from
roads to harbours.
In 1904 the Western Wheeled Scraper Company
designed and built the worlds first air-dump railway car, and by
1907 had supplied
700 of them to the Panama Canal Commission.
Book (and Video) Reviews
Published by: By William
Creative Publishers, P.O. Box 8660
St. John
s, Newfoundland
Price: $11.95
Review by Fred Angus.
There has been much published in recent times about the
Newfoundland Railway and its history. This is understandable in
of the recent abandonment of the system. Less well known,
of considerable interest, is the story of the street car system that
served N
ewfoundlands capital city of St. Johns for almost half a
century; from 1900 to 1948.
early as 1889 there was a proposal, by Halifax businessmen, to
build and operate a street railway in St.
Johns. Approval of the
scheme was delayed by the Newfoundland Legislature until 1892,
and there were further delays. In 1896 a
Street Railway bill was
passed by the legislature, but Royal Assent was withheld at the
of Sir Francis Evans, receiver fonhe bankrupt Newfoundland
Railway Company, who feared that the street railway might offer
competition to the steam railway! Finally, on
October 13, 1897 the
bill was signed by Her Majesty
Queen Victoria and, in February
1898, a contract was signed with
Sir Robert Reid (the builder of the
Newfoundland Railway) to construct the street railway.
The first rails for the street railway were laid on August 8, 1899, and
the first car was delivered on
August 24, 1899. There were eight
identical cars on the system, single truck 3 6 gauge double­
enders. Curiously, although double-ended, they had doors on only
one side, a peculiarity shared by their Birney successors
of 1925.
These first cars were built by N. & A.c. Lariviere, the well known
car builders of Montreal, and they closely resembled the single
truck closed cars built by the Montreal Street Railway
1896 and 1900. Service began on May I, 1900 and continued until
Some lightly-travelled routes were abandoned as early as
1902, but the rest continued, with slight modifications unti I the
In 1924 the recently-formed Newfoundland Light and Power
Company, controlled by Izaak Walton Killam, took over the street
railway from the Reid Newfoundland Company, and
proceeded to
rebuild it completely.
The entire system was rebuilt with heavier
rail, eight new Birney Safety cars were ordered from the Ottawa
Car Co., and the old cars were retired. These eight Birneys
furnished the entire service for almost a quarter century more.
in 1948, just before Newfoundland joined Canada, the old
street car system was abandoned after serving St. Johns well for
many years.
The Street Cars of Old St. Johns, William CO/Ulors gives us an
idea, both nostalgically and
historically, of what this long-gone
street car system was like. The 8 1/2 X I 1 inch pages of this 98-page
book are arranged in a horizontal format to allow reproduction of
the photographs in the largest possible size. There are42 photographs,
of which are full page, plus one map, two reproductions of
notices, as well as pictures of tickets and transfers. Two interesting
poems are also reproduced, one written in 1925 on the
of the old cars, the other from 1943 when the ageing
Birneys were struggling under the wartime overcrowding. There is
car roster, but this is not much of an omission as the roster was
so simple (the old cars were numbered 1 to 8, the Birneys were 10
to 17).
The photos are arranged in chronological order, starting
with views
of the powerhouse, track laying in 1899, and the start of
the service in 1900. The photo coverage shows the old cars in all
of weather and service, and depicts the gradual ageing and
of the fleet to the point where they developed extreme
sags and bulges at the roofline
The second part of the book starts with the modernization of 1925,
the introduction
of the Birneys, and follows the story through the
Depression, World War II, and on to the final end of service on
September 15, 1948. The last picture is a copy of an offer to sell the
eight Birney cars after the service ended.
There is
some introductory and explanatory text, but most of the
is told through the medium of contemporary newspaper
accounts. These are placed mostly on the left-hand page, while a
of the same period is placed, full page and with an
caption, on the right-hand page. The effect of this
procedure is to
make the story more intimate and cause the reader
to feel that he is actually observing the street railway instead of
merely reading about it. Another unusual effect is achieved by
underlaying the text on the left-hand page with a faint image
of the
photo which appears
on the corresponding right-hand page. The
result is striking indeed and enhances the appearance of the book.
Whether for the street car enthusiast, the nostalgia fan, someone
who likes old city scenes, or simply one who wants a nice, weJl­
done work on a little
known (to the mainlanders) transit system,
The Street Cars of Old St. Johns is a good buy.
Streetcars cf ~Icl1treal
r:hdg. JhJu~ -()t1t19l(unqtl[~11
By Fred Angus and Olive Wilson
Available from CRHA, Box 148,
St. Constant, Que. J5A
Price $13.75 ($12.75 to CRHA members)
This 80-page bilingual book is a pictorial history of Montreals
street car system from the first horsecars in 1861 to the last day of
operation of electric cars -August 30, 1959. The majority of the
160 illustrations in the book are from the collection
of Richard M.
Binns, one
of the longtime members of the CRHA and one of the
of the Canadian Railway Museum. Although there is a
brief introductory
history of the Montreal system, most of the story
is told by the pictures and their captions.
The illustrations are
arranged in
chronological order of the date the photo was taken, not
ecessarily the order in which the cars depicted were built. Thus car
es which operated at the same time are showlJ together regardless
of their builders date.
The book
is divided into eleven parts, the introductory section and
chapters, each covering one decade, starting with the 1860s
and ending with the 1950s. Many
of the early pictures from the
ar era are line drawings (since few tram photos of that period
exist), but coverage of the period after 1885 is mostly by clear
photographs. Many of the photos show street scenes, while others
depict the rural suburban lines.
AI! these portray vividly how the
ity and its environs appeared during each of the decades covered.
I! pictures are fully captioned, and each plays its pal1 in telling the
Montreal str
eet car story. Every photo is reproduced by a special
fine-screen process and is printed on high quali
ty paper to ensure
the hig
hest degree of clarity of these vintage illustrations.
of Montreal should appeal to all traction enthusiasts as
well as
anyone interested in the history of Montreal.
Produced by Peter Murphy
A vailable fro
Box 148, St. Constant Que. JSA 2G2
Price $27.00
Reviewed by Fred Angus
The Newfoundland railway may be gone, but it will never be
forgotten. Such is the
comment at the end of this one hour and
forty minute VHS video tape
of a trip on Terra Transports mixed
train between
Bishops Falls and Corner Brook on August 14,
1988, only weeks
before the abandonment of rail service in
Canadas eastemmost province.
Now that you have read the story of Robert Reid and the
Newfoundland railway in this issue
of Canadian Rail, why not see
the movie and relive the experience of a trip on this scenic line
over the spectacular countryside of the Gaff Topsail area of
Newfoundland, from which the name of the video is taken? This
area, one of the most remote in a
ll of Canadas eastern provinces,
was the last
in Newfoundland to have passenger service, and the
first to have the tracks torn up after
the line was abandoned in 1988.
Soon afte
rthe announcement was made of the pending abandonment
of the railway, the CRHA organized a trip on the last remaining
mixed train on the island, and this tape is a record of that excursion.
It starts at Bishops Falls on a rainy Sunday morning (a soft day
as they would say in
Newfoundland) as passengers purchased
tickets for the trip. After some shunting, the train starts (one hour
late) and proc
eeds to Grand Falls where there is more shunting
while several container cars are pi
cked up. Then on to Badger,
where engine and caboose are turned before the trip up to the
Topsails. In this video there are scenes from the car platforms, from
the cupola
of the caboose, inside the cars, and even a rare sequence
from the engine
cab as the train descends the long grade after the
The entire mood of the trip is captured, from the songs
sung by the passengers en route to the comments by the train crew
and others about the operating conditions on the line in days long
ago and
more recently. As Peter Murphy says in the introductory
comments No names have been changed to protect anyone, what
see is how it was.
The high point (both literally and figuratively) of the trip was the
run past at the summit, 1551 feet above sea level within sight
Gaff Topsail mountain, and this is fully captured on tape as the train
runs by at track speed while photographers capture the scene on
film and tape. Following the steep descent,
where one can hear the
of brakes and see the smoke from the brake shoes, the
viewer is treated to a run down the scenic Humber valley and then
on to
Comer Brook where the historic museum train, with the only
preserved Newfoundland Railway steam
locomotive, is shown. On
thereturn trip, the train runs up the
Humber valley as darkness falls
ending the taking of movies for the day.
The Gaffer concludes with views in St. Johns showing the soon­
to-be-abandoned railway facilities together with many of the
of now-retired equipment. At the end there are scenes of the
of the large container ships which have taken over the
traffic and put the Newfoundland railway
out of business.
The photography in this video is excellent (bordering on genius
as one critic said), and the picture quality, both inside and out, is
very good indeed considering the weather
conditions that prevailed
at the start
of the trip. The sound is excellent, and one can plainly
hear the sounds
of the train, as well as the comments of the
passengers and
the songs they played and sang that day. Spoken
comment, while fully adequate, is purposely helel to a minimum so
that the viewers can appreciate the unique sounds of the
Newfoundland railway. Altogether
The Gaffer is a wonderful
memento of an era in Canadian Railroading that is, alas, no more.
Produced by Ray Neilson
Available from: GPS Video
Box 5895, Postal Station
Toronto, Ontario M5W I P3
Price $59.95
This one-hour video tape combines a selection of rare early still
photos (many from the CRHA Archives) with full-colour movies
of the Montreal street car system in the 1950s. Unti I 1952, most of
Montreals major routes were still operating, and many of these are
covered by films taken by John Mills
(1950 to 1955) and Fred
Angus (1955 to 1959). In addition, some commentary be authorities
on the history
of the Montreal system helps to explain the story of
Canadas largest urban rail transit system.
The Montreal Tramways Company network was noted for its long
of private right-of-way as well as the large variety of
street cars on its roster. Even as late as 1950, there were almost
1000 cars, of 30 different classes and sub-classes, on the Montreal
The company was taken over by the city in 1951 and,
during the next eight years, all street cars were replaced by busses.
The I O-minute history of the system, at the start of the video, covers
the earlier types
of trams from the horsecars of the 1860s and
1870s to the electric cars of the 1930s. Then, after some historical
commentary, the movies take the story up to the end of service in
The video concludes with sequences of former Montreal
street cars operating at
museums including the Canadian Railway
Museum at Delson.
Montreal Tramways gives a good view of this interesting
transportation network, and is a fine companion to the CRHAs
own picture book on the same subject.
By Don Loney
This beautiful full
colour print, measuring 20 by 28 inches, depicts
a Canadian Pacific
Selkirk class locomotive at the head end of
the Dominion during the late 1940s. The scene is not a specific
location but represents the typical landscape through which this
famous and
popular train passed on its journey through the Rockies.
The Selkirks were 2-10-4 locomotives, of which there were two
major types
on Canadian Pacific lines. The first type was introduced
in 1929 while the second first
saw service in 1938. The name
Selkirk did not come into use until 1938 and was the winning
in a contest held for CPR employees. The locomotive
shown in the picture,
number 5934, is one of the latter type. Two
of this type have been preserved; 5935 is at the Canadian Railway
Museum at Delson, while 5931 is at Heritage Park in Calgary.
The original painting, acrylic on masonite panel, is the property of
Gordon and Barbara Belot of Calgary. Barbaras father, Ed (Tod)
Currie, had been an
engineer on the Canadian Pacific working west
of Calgary.
The artist, Don Loney, presently resides in Sherbrooke, Nova
Scotia. He retired from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish
in 1984 where he had served for 23 years. While at SI. Francis
Xavier University he established himself as one of Canadas
foremost university football coaches, retiring as head coach with a
of 133-31-2. Recognized as the fatherof Atlantic Universities
football, Don has been inducted into the St. Francis Xavier and City
of Otlawa Sports Hall of Fame. Prior to joining St. F-X he played
professional football
in the Canadian Football League with Montreal,
Toronto and Calgary, and in 1989 was inducted into the
Canadian Sports Hall
of Fame. Since taking up the brush in 1965,
he has specialized in railroad and marine subjects. His interest in
came naturally as his father was an engineer on the
Canadian National. His feeling for ships probably resulted from his
service with the
Canadian Navy and the fact that he has lived close
to the sea since he
came to live in Nova Scotia in 1955.
More information, prices etc. for Steam In The Valley may be
obtained from:
1. Loney
P.O. Box 128, Sherbrooke, NS, BOJ 3CO
CRHA Comnlunications
The 1990 CRHA conference was held in southern Alberta and
Columbia in late August. The following aJtic1e, by Ruby
Nobbs, appeared in the Revelstoke Review on Thursday, September
6, 1990.
The 1990 conference of the CRHA commenced in Calgary on the
of August 24 with a get-acquainted reception. Next morning
we were
off to Champion Park, near Calgarys south boundary. It
is a 55 acre private park, owned by a Calgary real estate man who
grew up in a railway station where his father was
CPR agent for
40 years. A station, identical to that at Champion Alberta, was
moved 60 miles to the site and beautifully restored both inside and
In front of the station about a quarter of a mile of track has been
laid, along with a vintage
CPR diesel engine and steel caboose.
Parked at the end
of the track is the business car Saskatchewan
[the fourth of that name], completely furnished.
Champion Park we travelled to High River, visiting its
Museum which used to be one-half of Calgarys former sandstone
CPR station. (The other half went to a town a few miles south of
High River). After looking over High Rivers collection of railway
we enjoyed dinner in the beautifully restored CNR dining car
-then back to Calgary.
Sunday morning started with an hour-and-a-half conducted tour of
Calgarys Light Rapid Transit repair service facilities, followed by
a charter tour
over the three legs of the LRT line. A shop foreman,
who had been called in at overtime pay for
our benefit, seemed to
enjoy the whole thing as
much as we did. After lunch we were
driven to
Camp Gardener, near Bragg Creek. Here were three
exquisite miniature engines, operating on live steam, on a considerable
of miniature track which crossed a grassy plain and
wound through
forest groves. The light engine hauled the driver
and a caboose.
The other two engines could each haul two cars with
eight-foot wooden seats on each
of which four or five passengers
sit astride. It was a real fun afternoon!
day Monday was spent at Calgarys Heritage Park. First we
inspected the Selkirk steam locomotive 5931 (no longer erroneously
numbered 5934) which
is in the process of being sandblasted and
Across the road is the restored 7019, one of the CPRs
earliest diesel locomotives. It was built in 1944 and is therefore
almost five years older than 5931. We were given a conducted tour
of the roundhouse and the car shop. Then, on the platform of
restored passenger coach number 141, the CRHA 1990 award for
preservation and restoration of railway heritage was presented
to Heritage Park for their work on 141. The natural colour of the
exterior of this ancient coach now sparkles under its
varnish finish.
The inside sparkles also, with its polished woodwork,
windows and exquisitely rebuilt rattan seats with backs
swing over so passengers never need to ride backwards.
Throughout the conference, seminars were held on various subjects
-the signal project at Champion Park, the history
of the CRHA and
its early acquisitions, the struggle to save and preserve 7019, the
Northem Alberta Railway, the restoration and operation of heritage
mobile equipment. At 8
AM on Tuesday, August 28, delegates departed for Revelstoke
and the second section
of their conference. They travelled on the
old No. 1 highway following the
CPR main line through Cochrane
Exshaw to Canmore. First stop was at Banff to have a look at
the station. Listening
on their scanner they learned that a trainload
of sulphur was approaching, so we waited for it to roll by -50
gondola cars, two robots, then
51 more gondolas. The next stop
was to visit the heritage-designated
Lake Louise station, and to
wave at the
crew as the sulphur train went by once more. From the
lookout platform at the
Big Hill it was the sulphur drag that
wound around the mountain and through the upper and lower spiral
tunnels, for
our railway enthusiasts to photograph. We drove in to
Field for a brief look at the station and yards.
Golden we inspected the old railway station at its new location,
went on for a look at the new CPR yards. The interpretive
centre at Rogers Pass was
much enjoyed, and then came a walk
around the site
of the historic Glacier House. As we stopped at the
of the short access road to view the west portal of the
Macdonald tunnel, an eastbound freight
came by at just the right
time to allow us to get pictures
of it entering the tunnel. That
evening, Revelstokes Selkirk Division of the CRHA welcomed
the visitors at an informal
get-together in the Museum.
Wednesday morning they inspected the site
of Revels toke , s proposed
Museum and had a look at the CPR yards and what is left
of the CPR facilities. They had all heard of the beautiful lawns and
gardens that used to be on the hill behind
our former heritage
station. Alas, these are all
gone but fortunately we had coloured
postcards we could give them. A drive to Craigellachie, following
the main line through Eagle Pass, was
much enjoyed, and of course
group pictures were taken at the
Last Spike cairn. After lunch there
was a drive to the Revelstoke
dam and the lake behind it, turning
off on the way back to view the golf course, the Court House and
other heritage buildings.
They had a free hour or so to explore our
downtown core before gathering at the home of a
member for a bar-b-que supper. By 8:30 Thursday
morning they were
offfor Nelson and Cranbrook, with a visit to the
S.S. Moyie at Kaslo on the way.
At the
many conferences I have attended I have never seen
enthusiasm to equal that
of this group, and there was not one
railroader in the lot.
We had two science professors, one from
Vancouver and the other retired from McGill, a corporate lawyer
from Toronto, a regional sales
manager for a Montreal industrial
firm, a data processing manager, an electrical engineer and
so on.
Their intricate knowledge of railway history and the operation of
railway equipment was extensive. The preservation of Canadas
railway history is in good hands!
The Vancouver Province of August 30 carried a picture of
the freighter Golden Mizushima docked at the inner harbour
where it had just taken on four unit trainloads of sulphur. One of
these trains may be the one we saw going through the Rockies.
The editors, production staff, and all others connected with
Canadian Rail, wish all
members and readers A VERY MERRY
Members have undoubtedly noticed that issues 417 (July-August)
and 418 (September-October) were mailed together in the
envelope. The reason was very simple -to save money. Due to our
of computer processing, we are rapidly catching up on the
backlog with the result that these two issues were ready quite close
Since our printer was on vacation in mid-summer the two
issues were
even closer together.
Under the present first-class postage rate it costs (in Canada) $1.17
to mail one
copy of Canadian Rail, whereas two copies can be
in one envelope for $1.56. Hence the mailing of the two
issues is reduced from $2.34 to $1.56, a
saving of 78 cents per
member, or more than $1000 in all. We decided that this kind of
money was better spent improving the quality of Canadian Rail,
instead of being given to Canada Post, so we opted for the double
We trust that the membership will approve.
We have recently received the latest issue of On Track, the
of the Prince George Railway Museum which is now
CRHA s newest division. Thisjournal reports much progress in
the development of the Museum.
The British Columbia Ministry of Social Services and Housing has
approved a grant
of $52,224.15 for a work project covering May 24
to October 26, 1990. This project involves clearing land for future
expansion, repairing and painting rolling stock, building public
washrooms, installing an underground sprinkler
system and some
The Museum has also obtained institutional membership
within the B.C. Museums Association.
Early in June, the long-predicted spring flood hit as the combined
of last winters heavy snowfall plus the springs unceasing
rainfall caused the Fraser river to overflow its banks.
Although the
Museum is not on the Fraser it was affected due to its proximity to
confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers. However the
effect on the
Museum was relatively minor, consisting mainly of a
paltially-flooded parking lot and the temporary
conversion of the
brand-new turntable pit into a
swimming pool! B.C. Rail suffered
worse from the rains as a small slide blocked their main line north
of Prince George.
A large group
of California tourists visited on May 30, and were
very impressed with the Museum. One gentleman said
1 cant
believe it.
Ive been to railway museums all over North America
and Ive never seen anything like this. This is a real undertaking.
On June 5 the grand opening of the Museums new firehall took
place. For several years Director and firefighter Warren
has spearheaded this project, and on June 5 it all came together. The
Hall now sports new flooring, wiring, insulation and a paint job of
white with red trim. Inside are gleaming, fully restored and
operational, artifacts -numerous hose-carts, a 1918 fire sleigh and
a gorgeous 1927 Reo Speed Wagon chemical pumper. A tower
attached to the fire hall houses the
1920s fire belJ from South Fort
The Division has now adopted the official name of The Prince
George-Nechako-Fraser division
of the CRHA.
Jim Crack brought to the Canadian Railway Museum the skills that
he had learned and practi
sed over his many years in the employ of
Canadian Pacific as a steam locomotive mechanic. Although Jim
was in his eighties, he was very active, particularly on the warmest
of days.
s particular interest lay in reinstalling the drive rods of many of
our steam locomotives .. The rods had been removed before the
locomotives were shipped to the
Museum in the early 1960s. His
skills were especially useful
in overcoming the problems precipitated
by the nearly 30 years
of outdoor storage -seized nuts and bearings.
Our locomotives now look as they should, with all rods in place.
Our photo shows Jim in typical position working on CPR 999. The
date was August 26, 1987.
Jim passed away on July
14, 1990. May you rest in peace, Jim.
Well miss you.
The McCord Museum of Canadian History, situated in Montreal,
is presently undergoing a major renovation and will be opening in
of 1992 with a series of major inaugural exhibitions. One
of these shows, which wi II also commemorate the 350th anniversary
of the founding of Montreal, will be a comprehensive exhibition on
the Victoria Bridge.
The story of its construction across the St.
Lawrence River between 1854 and 1859 will be the central theme
of the exhibition, which will describe the important role the bridge
played in the social history
of Montreal in the mid-nineteenth
This included providing the city with a year-round
transportation route to the Atlantic Ocean at Portland Maine. The
viewer will also learn someth ing of the economic, political, industrial,
social and cultural significance
of the construction of the Grand
Trunk Railway of Canada, which linked Montreal with Upper
Canada and the American
Objects from almost everyone of the McCords collections –
Costume and Textiles, Painting, Prints and Drawings, Ethnology,
Archives, Decorative Arts and,
of course, the Notman Photographic
Archives -have been selected
by the curators for presentation in the
They range from a gigantic bound engineers report and
engineering drawings, through costumes worn at the Prince
Wales inaugural ball, to numerous photographs and archival
Should any member be in
of any material relating
the Victoria Bridge, such as
documents or family
mementos, Stanley Triggs,
coordinator of the project and
Curator of the Notman
Photographic Archives, would be
very happy to hear from you. Mr.
Triggs can be reached at
On page ISO of the September­
October issue we printed a photo
which was intended to portray
Mr. Doyle
McCormack in the
of Royal Hudson locomotive
2860 during a visit to Seattle.
some injudicious
cropping cut out the guest of
honour We hereby print the
picture the way
it was supposed
to be.
We offer sincere apologies
to Mr.
McCormack, as well as
Mr. McGarry, the
author of the

The Board of directors of the CRHA has approved a plan to restore,
cosmetically, former
CP locomotive 2850, presently at the Museum
at Delson -SI. Constant, to the paint and decorative scheme as used
during the Royal visit
of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to
Canada in
Mr. Alan C. Blackburn has been appointed Coordinator, 2850
project and, in conjunction with the Canadian Railway Museum,
planning is now underway.
In researching this project we find that such materials as stainless
steel, Endura paint, woodworking etc. are available to undertake
this work.
However not all the work can be provided through
volunteers; thus ski
lled craftsmen (and women) will have to be
employed where necessary to complete this undertaking. Keeping
in mint the aforementioned, this singular locomotive MUST be
restored to pristine condition
in keeping with its Royal character,
and this brings up the point
of funding. It is estimated that a suitable
ation will cost approximately $250,000, of which about
$8000 has already been collected.
achieve the required amount we will be appealing to members
of the CRHA and Friends along with fund-raising attractions to
our goals. The locomotive is intact under cover at the
Museum, and restoration will not proceed until the funding is in
would appreciate any colour photos (or slides if they exist) of
2850 in its 1939 Royal paint scheme. This would greatly help the
project as well.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Canadian Railroad Historical
Association is offering its Annual
Awards for 1990. Results of the
program will be featured
in Canadian Rail, in the newsletters of the
divisions and in other rail publications.
Members and all other persons are earnestly requested to participate
in this activity as it can only be successful by
your making
nominations, such that the Association can hon
our those who do so
much to record Canadas rail history.
As in previous years there are five awards: Lifetime Achievement,
Preservation, Book, Article in a
CRHA publication, Article in a
non-CRHA publication.
Please make your nominations as early as possible and before
28, 1991, attaching any supporting documentation.
Nominations should be sent
CRHA Annual Awards
Compartment 132, R.R. 2
Picton, Ontario KOK 2TO
As we go to press it was reported that, on October 30 I 990, a two­
inch probe,
300 feet long, was drilled through between the two
of the Channel Tunnel connecting England and France. The
holing through of the full bore is scheduled for early January J 991
when a ceremony will be held. This is the first direct connection
under the English Channel and a
major and historic step in this
project which has been contemplated
since the time of Napoleon,
lmost two hundred years ago.
The Business Car
Canadian National Railways is selling its 112-kilometre branch
line from Stratford
to Goderich for $4 million to Railtex of San
Antonio Texas, the largest U.
S. operator of short lines, and one that
itself on running a non-union shop.
is the first such spinoff of a branch line in Ontario, and the first
to a U.S. company. Both CN and CP have ealmarked several
branchlilles for sale as short lines to feed their main lines. The sale
has upset
the unions and the municipalities involved, but for
differenheasons. The union
is worried because there are at present
more than 100 unioni
zed workers operating the line, and the issue
of whether a buyer inherits existing labour contracts
is now being
ed by an Alberta short line railway before the Supreme
of Canada. The city of Stratford is concerned that the line
remain open because otherwise about 150
trucks a day, carrying
salt from the mines at Goderich, would destroy
its roads in three
months. Stratford
had backed the plan of the Ontario Midwest
Railway Company Ltd
., run by Peter Bowers. Mr. Bowers said that
CN rejected his bid because of financing (or lack thereof) and had
given him a chance to rearrange it. CN is not concerned whether
the bidder
is American or Canadian, but whether he has the
to keep the line running.
was founded in 1974 by Bruce Flohr, its chief executive
officer, who formerly worked with the Southern Pacific Railroad
and with the Federal Railroad Administration in
Washington. The company was listed last year as 464th in the 500
fastest growing U.
S. companies, with 1989 revenue of $16.6
million (U.S.) and a projected 1990 revenue of more
than $20
It has 1500 kilometres of track and moved 80,000 carloads
of freight
in 1989.
Source: The Globe
and Mail, September 28, 1990.
A 120-car train,
caIlying toxic chemicals, approaches a graded
in a suburban community where the track speed limit is 15
miles per hour. The train fails to slow down and derails spilling its
deadly load. This is one scenario played out on a computer screen
in the Montreal plant of Dynamic Sciences Ltd., the largest locomotive
simulator company in the world. The object of the simulator is to
develop systems that will consign such real-life disasters to the
In the simulator, the engineer sits with the controls flanked on his
left; before
him are two TV monitors. One screen shows a train
ng through Phoenix Arizona, tracks and scenery whizzing
past m
colour. The second monitor has a split image in which the
bottom third features the tra
ck configuration and what is coming up
ahead -in this case the curve and the steep grade. The train itself is
a moving blob in the upper portion of the screen, which also
displays the trains speed,
the local speed limit, dispatchers
messages and track for the next four miles, including such details
as track work being done.
As the speeding train approaches the 15 MPH zone, the screen
flashes a warning that a lower speed is required and indicates where
the slowdown should start. If the engineer fails
to respond, a loud whoosh
is heard as if the air had been let out of the brake system,
stoppmg the tr
ain and preventing disaster. The infraction has also
been entered on the engineers record. The system represents an
advance in rail~ay technology that observers compare to the leap
from steam
to dIesel locomotIves.
Welcome to the world of Advanced Train Control Systems, which
can cont
rol everything from the running and dispatching trains to
SIgnallIng and even repairs. By the year 2000, computer controlled
trains should
be running on about 200,000 miles of track in North
America. Canadian National
is leading the testing. In 1983 CN, CP
Rati, fIve U.S. railways, the American Association of Railroads
nd the Canadian Association of railways met in Montreal and
that technology was available to make trains as flexible as
tlUcks. This year, CN fitted the Level Three ATCS system to BC
Northland RaiJway, a unit of CN,
on a 180-mile stretch between
Prince George
and Harvey which will be fully operational next
sprIng. Level f
our, the last phase, will involve operations in high­
traffIc areas.
It Will cost CN about $300 million to convert to smart
trains, but the annual benefits witl be about $100 million, not
counting customer benefit. Thus the conversion would pay for
in three years.
The ATCS concept links
all the control systems of a train, its route
and the configuration of the track on which it will travel, to an on
board computer terminal on the locomotive. It puts all the data
under the supervision
of a central dispatch computer. The on board
computer sends a beam
of energy to transponders embedded every
few mtles of track. The transponders are electronic devices designed
to receive and relay the trains position to both the central and on
board computers. Under the existing system, railways simply
e.sllmate the approximate location
of a train based on its departure
tIme and reports
fIled by the conductor at the end of each shift. In
its tryout of the ATCS transponders, Union Pacific found that it
c~uld pinpoint trains to within 200 feet. The system virtually
es the cause of rear-end collisions by eliminating human
No safety instructions can be ignored.
The central computer eventually would receive information
the 500 freight trains that run daily on 35,000 miles of track. If two
trains are headed on a collision course, the computer decides which
gets the right-of-way and which
is directed to a siding. If two trains
are between s
idings and neither stops the computers will do the
braking for them.
CN engineers believe that accidents like the
Hinton disaster
of 1986 are preventable under ATCS; however
is just one of several aspects. Because the rai Iways wi II know
where trains are, they can
use shorter faster trains and run them
closer together.
In terms of wear and tear, the on board computer will monitor such
diverse things as wheel bearings and amount of fuel in the tanks
and can advise the engineer and the next station as to whethe:
repairs or fuel are needed. One of the most crucial benefits is that
the system uses standard equipment. Thus a train using another
railways tracks
will be able to use that carriers central computer.
Two threatening situations prompted the railway
s development of
ATCS. Firstly, the 1979 Mississauga derailment and other accidents
raised the question of public safety. Secondly, the trucking industry
was (and IS) qUIckly gobbling up the freight trade. In Canada,
trucks carry almost
70% of the freight while a decade ago railways
carried 70%. The railways image as an outdated method of
transport was such that a few years ago Canada Post took out large
ads to announce that the mail was no longer
moving by rail [not so
in the United States
where the U.S. Post Office has re-discovered
the benefits
of mail-by-rail]. To compete, the railways had to find
other advantages besides their ability to
move large amounts of
freight. They decided they had to be able to predict deliveries
accurately and be flexible
enough to offerjust-in-time delivery. As
CN official said What pulled ATCS into the forefront was
what systems of this nature promise for the future viability of the
railway business.
Source: Globe and Mail,
September 24, 1990. Zuhair Kashmeri.
More than 300 Americans have bought their own private
railroad cars, one
of the most luxurious modes of travel ever
No form of transportation had the elegance of the private
car as it flourished from about 1880 to the stock market
of 1929. Recently Amtrak has been encouraging private car
ownership again since it is a way of collecting substantial revenue
by hitching the cars to regularly scheduled trains.
In their heyday, private cars had three or four staterooms,
servants quarters, a formal dining room, a kitchen and a drawing
room that opened onto a
brass~railed observation deck. They were
in railroad jargon as private varnish because of all the
elaborate varnished panelling that lined their interiors. Even at the
of rail travel, there were never more than a few hundred of
them. Their occupants often owned the railroad as well as the
railroad car, which
gave them the privilege of travelling at top
speed, all other trains having been cleared from the tracks ahead
Railroad titan Jay Gould
owned more than 7000 miles of track,
over which he travelled in a
convoy of private cars with French
chefs, Engl ish butlers, secretaries, a barber and a physician. His
personal dairy
cow rode in a private baggage car. William H.
of the New York Central was asked in 1882 why the
he maintained for the public were not up to the standard of his
own car.
He replied with the immortal words The public be
damned. [This is
one version of the story. There are others. ed.].
With the decline in railroads after World War II, the number of
functioning private cars dropped sharply, until Amtrak revived
them. Earlier this
year, 12 owners brought their private cars to a
of private car fanciers in Savannah Ga. The man wbo
organized the gathering was
Jack Heard, a funeral director from
Fernandina Beach
Fla. His car, with its cherry-panelled observation
lounge, was originally used by tbe
Dante Stephensen, an Atlanta restauranteur, lives in his car full­
It was built for Jessie Woolworth-Donahue. Sleeping in a
moving train
is more pleasurable tban sleeping still Stephensen
Theres a rocking motion. When trains roll past the siding
Im parked they rock me and I feel like Im moving.
Source: Montreal Gazette, August
19, 1990.
On September 24, 1990a wind-fanned blaze destroyed the landmark
Stationhouse restaurant on the waterfront
of Gananoque, causing
$200,000 damage. The building had been erected in 1929 by
Thousand Islands Railway, owned by Canadian National.
Strong winds were blowing out of the north when the 26-member
Gananoque fire department arrived at the restaurant on the shore of
the St. Lawrence and found the 61-year-old former railway station
engulfed in flames.
Fire Chief Jim Stevenson said he did not know what caused the fire,
which also caused about $2000 in heat damage to the nearby
Canada Customs office. No one was injured.
Source: Globe and Mail,
September 25, 1990.
During the past summer, CP Rail crews began to take up the rails
of the famous and scenic railway line to Mont Laurier Quebec. This
line, which passes through tbe Laurentian
mountains north of
Montreal, had been abandoned earlier this year. An attempt had
made to form a shortline company to take over the line, but
this fell through. As a result all the track north
of SI. Jerome will be
so bringing an end to this historic line that served the
Laurentians for almost one hundred years.
Effective August 4, 1990 CP Rail abandoned its London Division,
Simcoe Subdivision, having been given permission by NTA order
to do so. Since CN had taken over switching at Brantford on August
2, there was no farewell last run to be observed by railway
enthusiasts or the news media.
The line involved was the former
Lake Erie & Northern electric line in which CP had been involved
since 1912.
By Fred Angus
VIA Rails $200 million revival of the silvery passenger trains of
the 1950s finally began to bear fruit in mid-September as the first
of rebuilt Budd stainless steel equipment began a cross­
country promotional tour entitled
Of Style & Steel.
The train consisted of locomotive 6441, baggage car 8604, coach
8104, Skyline
dome car 8515, dining car EMPRESS, sleeper
ELGIN MANOR and dome observation carTREMBLENT PARK.
It was first
shown to the public in Montreal on September 2 I, and
scheduled to visit Moncton, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg,
Saskatoon, Edmonton, Regina and Vancouver.
The program to rebuild the stainless-steel cars was announced in
1987 after it was decided not to follow the example of Amtrak and
purchase new double-decker equipment. When the massive cuts in
VIA service were announced in October 1989, many feared that the
program would also be curtailed. Happily, this is not
the case and the program, although a year
behind schedule, has
now begun to produce tangible results. A
major reason for the
is that the project is, as VIA says, a labour of love of
unprecedented scope in which design work alone took two years as
engineers prepared 1600 technical drawings.
VIA is banking on the restored cars to cut losses and to recapture
part of the leisure travel market, especially across the Rockies. But
it will need three more years to convert tbe entire fleet. By the
spring of 1992, all cars for the Toronto -Vancouver run should be
converted, while those for the two Maritimes runs should be ready
about a year later.
Since the service cuts in January 1990, the number of passengers
carried on the
VIA system has declined to little more than half that
of 1990, a somewhat greater decline than had been anticipated by
VIA. The
decline is, however, not surprising in view of the ill
pruning of the feeder lines, as well as the increase in
Another factor in the decline in ridership is the extreme
negative publicity given to VIA by the news media in the wake of
the service cuts. Many people think that all passenger trains are
gone, and one VIA official said that the biggest problem now is to
convince the public that VIA is still in business. Just recently your
editor heard a comment, on the morning show of a well known
Montreal radio station, that they once used to announce the arrival
of trains but now there are no more trains! Hopefully the
of the new equipment will help to dispel this
The plan now is to push VIA into a more expensive segment of the
market and capture more of the leisure business. This seems to be
sound idea in view of the fact that those who are simply travelling
a long distance will
probably fly, while those going a short distance
will drive. The long-distance passenger train will take on the
er of a cruise ship, and will cater to older, affluent foreign
who would go on a cruise or ride such trains as the Orient
Express. This may mean a further fare increase from the already­
high $397 (plus $280 fora sleeper) fare from Montreal to Vancouver,
but may also include further first class services. In some ways this
would be a return
to the days of long ago when the railways
provided first class
lUXury services at prices well above those
which the average passenger could afford. VIA hopes that all this,
as well as less
maintenance on the rebuilt cars, will cut its operating
expenses by $20 million per year. Many people will miss the
reduced fares
which once existed (thanks to heavy government
subsidies), but one must realize that this is 1990, not 1960, and the
of cheap long-distance rail travel in Canada are over. As one
VIA spokesman said This is not a museum piece running from one
end of the country to the other. It is a train that means business and
is business.
As most railway enthusiasts know, the
cars being rebuilt are the
nless-steel passenger cars built by the Budd Company in
for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the years from
1953 to 1955. They were intended for the new improved
transcontinental train The Canadian which was operated by CP
from 1955 to 1978, and by VIA from 1978 to 1990. The present
VIA transcontinental train uses the same name but runs on a
different route. At the time they
went into service, Budd claimed
that these cars were among the finest in the world, and the ensuing
thirty-five years have proved them right. Although they were
getting old, their basic stainless-steel struclme was always sound
and it seemed that they could be brought up to date if it was ever
decided to do so. Now it is being done, the cars are being rebuilt
from top to bottom and the obsolete steam heat has been replaced
by modern
head-end power (fully compatible with Amtrak and
other modern
passenger railways); in shorl the equipment is being
brought up to the standards of the late twentieth century.
The first impression one gets on seeing the train is that of meeting
an old friend that has been magically rejuvenated. Walking through
the cars, one cannot help but compare the train to the Canadian
of 1955. Much of the ambience that made that t.rai.n so attractive is
still there.
The dome cars, the Mural Lounge, the dining cars with
their glass partitions containing edge-lighted pictures
of birds,
cars with a variety of accommodations (even some open
sections), and numerous small details such as those neat stands in the observation car, designed to hold glasses steady as the train
rounded curves, a
ll these 11ave been retained. In the diner, the tables
were set as if for a meal and one could almost hear the jingle of the
erware (yes, it was real silver plate in 1955) as the pieces
vibrated against each other while the train sped on. The first
is that of being transported back to 1955 and seeing the
Canadian new again.
Soon the realization comes that this is not the Canadian of 1955,
but is a new train
of the 1990s. The first thing noted is the absence
of the steam pipe and the hissing of escaping steam. This anachronism
from the
steam locomotive is gone and is replaced by a 440-1011
system drawing its power from a generator in the locomotive.
Strangely this feature, one of the most important of all, was not
emphasized in the publicity releases concerning this train. The
coach seats are more comfortable and have retractable shelves, a
feature borrowed from the airlines. In
each sleeper there is one less
open section because the space is now occupied by a shower
available to all sleeping car passengers. In the mural lounge there
once again original paintings by well known Canadian artists.
They are quite different from the old ones and just as attractive in
frames and protected by plexiglas. All the paintings intended
the Park cars (except for the one installed in Tremblent
Park) were displayed in a large tent adjacent to the train. The
electrically-operated stoves and
other appliances in the dining car
galley should make life easier for the crew and still provide first
class meal service to the passengers. In the
Park dome car is a
clock with multiple faces s
howing the time in most Canadian time
zones (even Newfoundland time is shown). The loudspeakers are
still in the
dome cars, and one hopes that the public-address and
music system will be revived after being silent since the
Not visible, but of greater importance, are the new brake and
suspension systems which will
ensure a smoother and safer ride.
Some people will certainly criticize the spending of about a million
dollars per
car to refurbish equipment that will, after all, still be 35
years old, and perhaps this criticism is justified. In a future issue we
hope to discuss more the pros and cons of ordering Superliner
equipment. One major advantage is being able to carry many more
passengers without increasing the
number of cars per train, and
hence the
charge by the railways. However the cost of the rebuilding
will still be much less than that
of new equipment and will result in
passenger cars that are, to all intents and purposes, new. VIA, and
the designers
of the rebuilding program have shown a certain
element of genius in that they have succeeded in reconciling two
entgoals. They have created a train with the technological
of the 1990s while still retaining those features that made
this equipment so attractive three and a half decades ago.
One year ago there was much despair and the feeling that the
ger train in Canada was headed toward extinction. While
this apprehension is still very much present, the launch of the
new equipment
shows that VIA means business in its attempts to
fight back and upgrade the
service. Whether this attempt will be
successful remains to be seen but with more help and cooperation,
government interferance and less negative comment from the
news media and others
it has a chance of success. On seeing the
one could not help but recall the words of Thomas Stonow
Brown who was present at the opening of the Champlain & St.
Lawrence Rail Road in 1836.
On that occasion he said We are so
accustomed to see things done ill that a work well done is a
The rebuilt passenger cars appear to be a work well done;
the future will tell
if they will be the miracle needed by Canadas
passenger rail system.

On October 15, 1990 four more can; from the: Montreal. Deux
Montagne:. OOmmUlI:!T !inc: were removed from ~I ice due to poor
condition. but :I eN official ~llyS that this will be only the
beginning of hC:ldachcs for c:ommUlCN, Under [he terms
or II 1982 agreement bet ….. ecn eN Rnd the Quebec
provincial department of Irnnspon. eN will sImI the line
down completely in 1992 iflhepTOv;nccdoc)u, upgrade
it by then. The trouble 1~ that if [hey started tomorrow il
would take three year; modernize the line. The sIan of
wOlk is ht:ing heM up until an c:nvimumcmal impact
study is complete nrc ironed out IIJn~llUe thi~ a~ red tSlpel. Altogether
the variou!! aUlhorilie,
neM four year~ tt) do a job with a
o-year deadline: thu~ they are tWO ),elm latc 1Il.relldy,
The lint has never been upgmded siJlce 1918 when Ihe
first Canadirul Nonhern truins began runnmg betwecn
Montreal and Deux Montagnes
(I hen knol>.t1 as 51.
Eustache sur Ie Lac), The first 1000ol11otile thnt pa~sed
through the tunnel in 1918 is still in regular ~rYice, The
electrical system i~ 72 yeaN old, Replaetmem pans must
be hand crnfted
by eN nrtisans bcc:lu…e no one ~ell~ them
still in operation, and car 130 had been severely vandalized,
5ubS down and it was believcd, as
early as 1971.
thai 130 had been scrapped,
;my more, A worldwide sellrch for a type of brake shoe
turned up some in Clllna where CN /1 tImes the nOnll
al price for such n plrt,
N5J.T mr 131, [demit1I1 w f30. ar 51. Car/!(lrillc~ on fill) 22, 1948.
CRHA Ardlllj$, Tw/!e,l CUIlI!(lioll 48-368.
rn AugUSt 1988 then transport minister Mnrc-Yvan COtC said thllt
$175 million would be devoted to modemi7ing the line. This June,
the transport
depanment said the ovcrh:1U1 would hoppen wUh the
briefest d
eJay, But nothing is happening nO1 cxcept technical
stUdies. Theyve been doing studies for 20 ye:lfS, Another study
isnt going to get nn)thing done,
Source: Montreal Gazette. Oct
ober II, I 99(),
Editors note: Whichever way thi~ ~;tulitIOn turns Oll!. the CN
service I ill not continue: in iN p~ent form for much
longer, Railway
cnthu~ia~lS are to ride the inc, and take
photOS and videos of this truly ;nt:lgc eh..Ctrie operation, while
they still can,
Back in 1914 the Preston CM & Coach company built six large
1Ilth-window interurban cars for the Niagara St.
Catharines and
oronto interurban line. 11lc~ were among the last of this truly
classiC type of 1I1tcrurbon design. for 111 the iIl1TIe year World War
I broke out. and won the interurban industry began its long decline
into near-extincI101l.
The first of Ihc:>C eaTS was relred in 1935 Ilnd
the lUI.
number 130. was taken OUI of SCl>ICt: 10 1954. fi e years
the end of all electric service on Ihe NS&T. An excellent
of these earsappeued in CWlildi:m Rail number231, April
CM 130 was shipped 10 the Rail City Mu…eum al Sandy Point
New York where it remained for thirty·liye yeaN, Rail CilY had
been eSlablished by a Syracuse demist as a pan of his e.:uensiyc
real-estate holdings
but for various rcason~. had languished, By
1964 Ihe property appeared run-dol
, although the museum was In actual fact
130 hlld nOI been sCr;l.pped, but was gradually
il~ tht: surrounding egetal;ol1 slol>.ly reclaimed the )1e
until it reached the condition where 11 resembled the Maya
sit~ofCenlral Amuica:lS oneenthu5iast put it. In
1989 tltt Sea.~hore Trolley Museum of Kennebunk M:line, as port
of OpemLion Ltt~t Roundup, :In effon to make an al1cmpt to
prescl>e .some
of the ~lgnificant electric railway artifacts still
around. isitcrl what was
left of Rail City, Most of the former
,cre gone. but old 130 still remained, An in~pecllon
revealed that 11 was too much delenoTaled to ~ae, for the small
I>.:lS gorw>, t~ woodwork rotted and the roof CIVed in. As
a 1i,11 indignity. ~,me yundals had Sllwt-(] through every window­
WIth a ch;!in saw,
II was not 4uile the tnd of Ihe Story, however, (or tile Original
Taylor trut!.., under 130 were sull good. Seashore h:ld recently
acqui~ the body of Roche.stu and Sodu~ Bay car 113. built in
1899. and thu!> one of the oldest interurban caN in America. It did
1101 hal e trucks. and it required juslthe type that wcre under 130.
The Ol>.oer of Rail City. convinced lit last thai the ear WiI!> indeed
ond rep.1;r. donaled the trucks 10 Sea~hore. On September 12.
1989 the trucb I>.ere removcd and soon bruught to MaIne. The
origlOal pltm IM to tip Ihe car body on Ill; side bul, out of respect
for the old .. eler-tn, il …. as jacked up, Ihe trucks removed_ and then
wa~ left upright. At last repon, what was kfl of 130 is 5till in
CXI~tcnce, tcnty ),c;lr after it was belieed to have been .;cmpped.
but it
is cenainly 100 far gone to save an.d is slo1 Iy disintegrating.
It is sad indeed th:It one of Can ados finest i,nteruman ellrs h tnding
lI.)carcer this I>.ay. but Ioe are thwlkfullhal i:.lrucks I>. ill give new
10 a really significalt car -a rare interurban of the 1890s, the
decade when the industry began.
BACK COVER: All Aboordfor N~lIfollltdlrmd SI:lty-/i1e ye(Jrs (Jso,fi(-#:ighlh1 (1 IiiI (miT( flett (If Birrtty c(/rsfor Ihl Nen!mmdltmd
& Po ….. (r Compony ….. tre piclllr(d (If ,.,-IOII/reol harbollr being loadl!d Oil (I barg( prior 10 ~ing /T(lIIsfl!rrld to 0 shil for tilt rrif/ln
SI, johns. TIJ~ tlale 01 Ocwbt-r 27.1925. Nmional ArchillS (lfC(lI/alil/, Mcrriltlf Col/(clioll PA-I64734 and PA-J64730,

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