SCOUT HOUSE BUGLE BAND
The Grand River Railway Company was comprised of the Galt and Preston Street Railway, the Preston & Berlin Railway, and the Berlin, Waterloo, Wellesley & Lake Huron Railway. Operation of the Galt and Preston Street Railway commenced on July 26, 1894. The branch from Preston to Hespeler began operating in January 1896 and the name changed to the Galt, Preston & Hespeler Street Railway Company Limited.
The Preston & Berlin Railway began service on October 6, 1904. The GP&H and P&B were amalgamated, effective January 1, 1908, under the name, Berlin, Waterloo, Wellesley & Lake Huron Railway Company and leased to the Canadian Pacific Railway for 99 years. In 1914, the name was changed to the Grand River Railway Company. It should be pointed out that the present day city of Kitchener was once known as Berlin, being renamed in 1916.
From the beginning, the operating power was 600-volts DC. On December 4, 1921, the line changed to 1500-volt DC operation to match that of the Lake Erie & Northern Railway. All 600-volt equipment was immediately withdrawn from service. This consisted of eight 54 foot cars, six of wood construction throughout, and two with steel under frames, plus a couple of freight locomotives.
One express and seven passenger cars, all of steel construction and built by the Preston Car & Coach Company, replaced the 600-volt equipment. These were numbered 622, 842, 844, 846, 848, 862, 864 & 866. One of these cars, 866, was severely damaged by fire in one end in August 1933. In 1937 it was rebuilt as a combination baggage/express/passenger and renumbered 624.
Three of the former Galt, Preston & Hespeler and Preston & Berlin Railway 600-volt wood cars were rebuilt for 1500-volt operation, becoming 824, 826 & 828. The car ends were modified to have them looking more like the new steel passenger cars in appearance, complete with end doors to facilitate movement between cars when operating in multiple car trains. Both 600-volt freight motors were also rebuilt and equipped for 1500-volt operation, one becoming box-cab motor 222 and the other, a steeple-cab, numbered 224. The balance of the 600-volt equipment was scrapped.
Serving the highly industrialized area of Central Ontario north and south of Preston (now part of Cambridge), the Grand River Railway and the Lake Erie & Northern Railway, together formed the Canadian Pacific Electric Lines with headquarters in Preston, Ontario, Canada. Legally they were two seperate railways but were operated as one under the Canadian Pacific Electric Lines. Following the conversion of the Grand River Railway to 1500-volt DC operation, equipment of both lines was inter-mixed and running crews also worked both.
The Grand River Railway served its area in a "Y" shaped pattern, Galt (Main Street) being at the base, Preston at the fork, Kitchener/Waterloo at the west, or left tip, and Hespeler to the east, or right. Electric "inter-urban" or "radial" service, as well as freight service, was provided on daily schedules.
The original Preston & Berlin trackage, into what is now Kitchener, was on a marginal right-of-way along the south side of King Street to a point just east of Stirling Avenue. There the freight line split off in a south-west direction on a private right-of-way. The passenger line swung to the centre of King Street and continued west to Albert Street, Berlin, and from there through downtown to Water Street over Berlin & Waterloo Street Railway trackage. This practice was discontinued in 1921 when the Grand River Railway put larger cars into service with the conversion from 600 to 1500 volt operation. A new cut-off line was constructed from Kitchener Junction to Courtland Avenue where it rejoined the freight line. The GRR then ran passenger service to its Queen Street station and up into Waterloo on its own line.
The street trackage on Concession and Water Streets was removed from service in 1921 with the conversion to 1500 volt operation. Passenger operations were moved over to the freight line. In 1939, all passenger service moved to the freight trackage in Galt and Preston, and the track paralleling highway 8 between Galt and east Preston was removed as was the trackage on King Street in Preston.
Supplementing the rail passenger service of the Grand River Railway was a bus service operated by the Canadian Pacific Transport Company.
Following the abandonment of passenger service on April 23, 1955, the National Railway Historical Society sponsored two final farewell trips. On a rainy April 24, 1955, the Syracuse Chapter trip was operated with cars GRR 626, 846, LE&N 939 & 937. GRR 862 was added at Brantford due to the number of people boarding there. Believe it or not, the fare for this farewell trip was $3 when paid in advance, $4 on the car. Of note, on the ticket stub was the phrase, 'To enjoy for yet another moment, the romantic saga of flanged wheels, air whistles and trolley wires'.
The Buffalo Chapter held their farewell trip one week later, on May 1, the day being warm and sunny. LE&N 937, GRR 848 & 846 made up the original train. On returning to Preston from Waterford, GRR 864 was added to accommodate the crowd.
For its freight operations, the Grand River Railway had seven electric freight motors, and combined with the Lake Erie & Northern Railway, served some 450 industies along their lines. The Grand River Railway, or GRR as it was known, numbered their freight motors 222, 224, 226, 228, 230, 232 & 234. These last three were a deviation from the numbering system where GRR equipment was to be numbered with even digits and LE&N odd digits. During the course of their lives, all motors would be equipped with MU electrical equipment and it was common to see a Grand River and Lake Erie motor MU'd.
The Grand River Railway had interchange connections at Galt with the Lake Erie & Northern Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Canadian National Railway; at Preston, Kitchener and Waterloo, connections were made with the Canadian National Railway.
Freight schedules provided for over night service between Grand River Railway points, with Windsor, London, Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal. Direct freight connections are also made with C.P.R. trains to and from Pacific and Atlantic Ocean points, and the Canadian Northwest.
All train movements on both the Grand River and the Lake Erie & Northern Railways were dispatched in the regular steam road manner from the dispatch office at Preston.
Electric freight operation continued until October 1, 1961 when diesels of the Canadian Pacific Railway replaced the electric freight motors.
Trackage south from the Canadian Pacific Railway interchange to Main Street (junction point with the Lake Erie & Northern) was removed in the 1980's, as were the rails of the Hespeler Branch and those beyond the east end Kitchener Canadian National Railways interchange and Waterloo.
At 12:30 A.M., Sunday April 19, 1992, the Cambridge Fire Department responded to the Grand River Railway Shop to find it completely engulfed in flame. A wall and the roof collapsed about 10 minutes after firefighters arrived dashing any hopes of saving the building. Back on December 4, 1906, fire destroyed the car barns of the Galt, Preston & Hespeler and Preston & Berlin Street Railways at this same location. Several cars, including a new $12,000 freight motor, were lost in that fire which was believed started from a stove in one of the cars.
The rails of the Grand River Railway in the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo were lifted shortly after service was abandoned beyond the east end of Kitchener in 1993. A portion of former GRR right-of-way in Kitchener and Waterloo is now the Iron Horse Trail. As well, the Mill Run Trail was constructed along a portion of the Hespeler Branch.
When this page was originally prepared (1997), freight operations continued on the former Grand River Railway between the CPR interchange at Galt and the east end of the City of Kitchener, interchanging there with the Goderich & Exeter Railway. The former GRR line is now known as the CP Waterloo Subdivision. The Cambridge Toyota car manufacturing plants generate most of the traffic on the line. Two MU'd SW1200RS units were assigned to switching the Toyota plants. CPR GP7/9's, GP38's and GP40's provided the motive power for trains between the plant and the CPR yard at Galt. Today, two rebuilt GP7's/GP9's work the Toyota Plant while a pair of GP38/GP38-2's, sometimes assisted by a rebuilt GP7/GP9, work the line between Galt and Kitchener.
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Additional Canadian Pacific Electric Lines History
History of Electric Rail Transportation in Cambridge
To learn more of the area served by the Grand River Railway,
Preston once boasted its own radio station, CKPC. The 'PC' stood for Preston Canada.