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Canadian Pacific Railway Company

Eastern Division

Amalgamation of the Canada Central into the Canadian Pacific took place on June 9th,1881. It became the Eastern Division of the CPR. The CCR consisted of itself and the former Brockville & Ottawa (opened 1859) running from Brockville via Smiths Falls and Carleton Junction (45 miles) to Ottawa (27 miles); Smiths Falls to Perth (12 miles) and Carleton Jct. (Place) via Arnprior and Renfrew to Pembroke (76 miles) and on through Chalk River to Mattawa (94 miles), totalling 254 miles.

It had still not reached Callander (named by Duncan McIntyre after his birthplace in Scotland) on Lake Nippising and the actual route to meet up with the Lake Superior Section was vague. Sandford Fleming's government surveying forces explored a route which headed up the Sturgeon River valley to what became Capreol reaching Lake Superior at Nipigon and continuing on to Port Arthur.

Other surveyors were at work on a Sault Ste.Marie Branch running from Callander north of Lake Nippising and westward on the north shore of Lake Huron to Sault Ste.Marie where construction supplies would be moved to the Lakehead by steamers on Lake Superior.

A decision was made by the CPR not to use Fleming's route and instead to route the main line to Algoma Mills where the water route was to begin.

Later, the line would be extended from Algoma Mills to Sault Ste.Marie to connect with a hoped for extension of the St.Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba which was still controlled by James J. Hill and other syndicate members and might become a subsidiary of the CPR. This would result in a through Montreal-Sault-Winnipeg route avoiding the difficult Lake Superior routing until the last if at all. They had until 1891 to do this and a route northward from the Sault (Soo) along the eventual route of the Algoma Central was planned around Lake Superior to Port Arthur.

Eastern Division expansion and construction.

Seeking to get its railway to the city of its headquarters, Montreal, the CPR in early 1882 bought the Western Division of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental from the Province of Quebec for $4,300,000. This brought the CPR from Ottawa (Broad Street) via Hull, Quebec and Ste. Therese to Montreal (Hochelaga), a distance of 119 miles. Two small branches were included: Hull to Aylmer (8 miles) and St.Therese to St.Jerome (14 miles). The Grand Trunk managed to buy the North Shore Line of the QMO&O stopping the CPR from getting to Quebec City.

Two very small connecting railways were also purchased at the same time. St.Eustache: Ste.Therese to St.Eustache, 6 miles and Laurentian: St.Lin Jct. (off the former QMO&O branch to St.Jerome) 15 miles.

A small extension was built from the QMO&O's terminal in Hochelaga at Notre Dame and Harbour Streets for one and one half miles along the waterfront to the new Quebec Gate Barracks Station at Berri and Notre Dame Streets. This facility was to be the CPR's Montreal terminal until the famous Windsor Station was built in 1889.

All of this was added to the Eastern Division along with the Canada Central. This purchasing of existing railways was to set the pattern for much of Canadian Pacific expansion in southern and eastern Ontario and elsewhere in the East.

Ontario & Quebec

Aside from the construction in Northern Ontario from the Canada Central north-westward Canadian Pacific's expansion in the East came about largely through the acquisition of numerous other railways. The biggest of these was the Ontario & Quebec which itself included two other railways, the Credit Valley and the once-narrow gauge Toronto, Grey & Bruce.

The O&Q was being built on behalf of the CPR under a separate charter with George Stephen and Duncan McIntyre among its directors. It would end the Grand Trunk monopoly in Southern Ontario. Incorporated March 21st, 1881 construction began at Perth westward through Havelock and Peterborough to Toronto opening for traffic August 31st, 1884. Before it was even completed the O&Q was leased on January 4th, 1884 to the CPR forever*. A Century later this was to come back to haunt the CPR for many years.

*A perpetual lease, something much later declared to be illegal and determined in fact to be a sale. Leases could not legally be longer than 99 years.

The O&Q had only just amalgamated the Credit Valley on November 30th, 1883 after having also leased the Toronto, Grey & Bruce on July 26th, 1883 for 999 years.

The Credit Valley was an early railway incorporated February 5th, 1871 to build between Toronto and St. Thomas with a branch from Streetsville to Orangeville. Construction began in 1874 and it was completed in 1881.

The GTR was operating the TG&B at the time it lost out to the O&Q. Grand Trunk had just amalgamated with the Great Western May 25th, 1882. The battle for traffic between the GTR and CPR would see each acquire or build a number of smaller railways throughout southern Ontario. This would go on after the "completion" of the CPR with the famous Last Spike of November 7, 1885.

To complete its main line between Montreal and Toronto the CPR had to do two more things. Acquire access to Montreal from another direction than it already had from Ottawa and build a new line west to Smiths Falls. This was accomplished by using the charter of the Atlantic & Northwest which had been acquired previously by Stephen and McIntyre to build a bridge over the St.Lawrence River at Lachine to connect at Mile End with the former QMO&O line from Ottawa and construct a new line using the O&Q charter from where Windsor Station was being constructed to Vaudreuil. From there the O&Q also built a new main line west to Smiths Falls where it connected with the branch of the former B&O and then part of the Canada Central which the CPR already owned, to Perth. This branch was leased to the O&Q to give it a through line of track. The 122 mile line opened August 15, 1887.

The O&Q was also busy extending west from Woodstock to London and Windsor in order to get a direct connection to US roads in Detroit instead of at St.Thomas. The West Ontario Pacific was incorporated in 1885 to do this and was leased in perpetuity to the O&Q June 23, 1887. It opened between Woodstock and London on September 5th, 1887 and to Windsor on June 12th, 1890.

The O&Q and other lines west of Smiths Falls had become the Ontario Division effective May 1st, 1884.

There were many other short lines built in Ontario, including the Georgian Bay & Seaboard, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon & Pontypool, Campbellford, Lake Ontario & Western, Grand River, Guelph & Goderich, Kingston & Pembroke, Lake Erie & Northern, St.Marys & Western Ontario, Tillsonburg, Lake Erie & Pacific. There was also a major new line built by the CPR under its own charter to give it a direct main line between Toronto and Sudbury.

For details of these railways see under Articles: CPR Ontario District.

Bruce Division; Former Toronto, Grey & Bruce, Credit Valley branch, Walkerton & Lucknow.
London Division; Former Credit Valley main line, St.Marys & Western, Tillsonburg, Lake Erie & Pacific, Guelph & Goderich, Grand River, Lake Erie & Northern.
Toronto Terminals Division; Yards and industrial areas.
Trenton Division; Ontario & Quebec, Campbellford, Lake Ontario & Western, Georgian Bay & Seaboard, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon & Pontypool, Kingston & Pembroke.
Lambton Yard; and West Toronto.
Toronto Yard; hump yard in Agincourt.

Northern Ontario

Meanwhile, construction work in 1882 was progressing in two other directions: Eastward from Algoma Mills 80 miles towards Sudbury and westward from Mattawa to Sudbury. Progress was slow, construction from Algoma Mills eastward in 1882 had seen all 80 miles graded but just 5 miles of track laid.

By the end of 1881 westward track laying had reached Eau Claire, not far beyond Mattawa on the Ottawa River. By the end of 1882 it had only gotten to Sturgeon Falls on Lake Nipissing. It took the entire year of 1883 to go another 70 miles to the Vermillion River just beyond Sudbury Junction. This lethargic pace was a result of an engineer who had been used to the slow pace of work undertaken on the Canada Central. When he wouldn't pickup the pace, Van Horne replaced James Worthington effective May 1st,1884 with the engineer who had been in charge of the Algoma Mills line, Harry Abbott.

It was the intention to begin service in the spring of 1884 between Montreal and Algoma Mills (540 miles) where steamships would take over for the next 500 miles on Lake Huron and Lake Superior to Port Arthur where rail would resume for the westward journey. Three steamships, the Alberta, Algoma and Athabaska were built in 1883 by Connel & Company of Glasgow, Scotland. These ships began service in May 1884 from Owen Sound to Port Arthur.

Suddenly, with little warning the Algoma line, barely completed at the end of 1884 had its status changed to that of a branch. The main line would now go north around Lake Superior. Later, in 1888 the Algoma line would be extended to Sault Ste, Marie as intended but at that point it would end rather than continue north from there.

Government construction was still continuing between Rat Portage (Kenora) and Port Arthur. It was a lethargic works that had begun in 1875 and which was not finally completed until June 17th, 1882 at Eagle River. Completed was a questionable term since a spring 1883 inspection revealed ballasting had still not been finished, ties and rails had deteriorated under construction train-only usage and there were no facilities on the line. Stations, freight sheds, yards and engine houses were all missing. The Government's chief engineer, Collingwood Schreiber (biography) was unmoved by the CPR's prodding. Finally, the CPR offered to do all the work if paid for it. It was agreed to pay $940,000 and turn it over in May 1883. The CPR's troubles weren't over as shoddy construction saw track sink in muskeg, bridges collapse under trains and inaccurate engineer's surveys that resulted in the line actually being five miles longer than indicated!

All-Canadian Route

The decision to build an all-Canadian rail route was adamantly opposed by James J. Hill as it would cut out his St.Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba from being part of the transcontinental railway. As well he felt the all-Canadian route was folly considering the lack of traffic. Hill resigned on May 3rd, 1883 and took J.S.Kennedy with him. George Stephen personally bought the shares to avoid a market problem with such a large number of shares being dumped at once. Hill would go on to be a thorn in the side of Van Horne and the CPR for many years to come when he built the Great Northern and expanded it into Canada.

Once the decision was made to direct the main line around Lake Superior a new survey was run in a more direct line than that of the original government survey of 1879. It headed north from Sudbury Junction for 360 miles to Heron Bay of Lake Superior.

Sudbury itself was a company town with every structure owned by the CPR to keep out the whiskey peddlers. It was around Sudbury that great riches of minerals were soon to be discovered thanks to the coming of the railway. John Laughrin, a contractor cutting ties was fascinated by the yellow-bronze rocks in the hills. In February of 1884, he and three friends staked out what became the International Nickle Company's Murray mine. A fortune was made, by others. Someone else who did become rich was Charles Francis Crean who when he arrived on the first work train in November 1883, took an interest in a piece of rock laying in the company store in Sudbury. Copper! Came back the analysis, and in May of 1884 he staked a claim on what was to become the famous Elsie Mine. The following month he looked carefully at some track ballast on the Sault Ste. Marie branch and staked out the Worthington mine. He repeated this three more times. Yet another wise man was a construction timekeeper who discovered one of the most famous of all, the Frood mine.

The route began in the basin of the Spanish River winding among the wooded and rocky outcroppings of the Laurentian Shield, for 115 miles and crossing dozens of rivers, creeks, lakes and marshes. Beyond Biscotasing it crossed into the Hudson Bay watershed running for about 170 miles until it followed the valley of the White River for the last 70 miles to Lake Superior. Here the real challenge began!

It was about 100 miles beyond Sudbury where the trouble began. Only about a foot of earth covered the rock beneath it, requiring a long distance haul for construction of embankments. Equally troublesome were the hidden sink holes that gave way after trains passed over them. Filling them in was an expensive matter with sometimes questionable long term effect. One such sink hole took 800 cars of gravel to fill it!

Lake Superior Route
"Two Hundred Miles of Engineering Impossibilities"

Grading began early in 1883 eastward from Port Arthur to Nepigon Bay and involved an upgrade to a summit about 25 miles east of Port Arthur that was nearly 500 feet above Lake Superior. Rail laying took place between May 26th. and November 21st, 1883 when it reached Red Rock. Crossing of the Nipigon River begun in the summer of 1883 was not finally completed until April 18, 1885 due to an unstable riverbed.

It took all of 1884 and 1885 to get through Northern Ontario around Lake Superior, so difficult were the conditions part of it was declared to be "Two Hundred Miles of Engineering Impossibilities". An incredible 12,000 men and 5,000 horses were at work and the payroll exceeded $1 Million a month! Three dynamite factories were built in the Caldwell-Jackfish area and they each produced a ton a day! Cost for dynamite alone was $7,500,000! Each figure involved with this work warranted an exclamation mark of its own.

The ability to access the construction work along the north shore of Lake Superior helped speed things. Work went on in both directions from McKay's Harbour which was the headquarters of engineer James Ross (biography) and later re-named Rossport, and from Heron Bay along with eastward from Jackfish Bay.

Work went on all winter in five feet of snow and fifty degrees below zero weather. It took 300 dog teams to supply the camps in winter. Bunkhouses were filthy and poorly made, they crammed sixty to eighty men in each. Food was poor in winter. In summer it was mosquitoes and blackflies that tormented the men.

Instability of the ground caused problems such as at Nepigon where excavating for a bridge pier on the bank of the Black Sturgeon River resulted in a break off 40 feet above. At Red Rock where lake currents resulted in embankments sinking into the lake. Again, at McKay's Harbour where dock buildings and supplies slid into the bay.

Other problems resulted from whisky peddlers smuggling in their goods and the resultant fights and lawlessness in an unsettled pioneer land. It was particularly bad in winter due to the isolation of camps along the fragmented rail line. Only local constabulary was available and wasn't the best. Whisky sold for $15 a gallon.

Labour was a problem in another way as it was the practice in 1882 to pay labourers $1.75 per ten hour day, rock specialists at $2.00 or $2.25 per day while out in Alberta men were getting the higher rates for common labourer work. This left the CPR in competition with itself!

Horseshoe Trestle near Schreiber on the north shore of Lake Superior. It was later replaced with earth fill
as time permitted as were many others. Pacific Express enroute from Montreal to Vancouver in 1886.

Rock work specialists were sent out ahead to excavate the many rock cuts before grading crews arrived the next year. Tunnels were required around Jackfish Bay, (last one finished May 1885) Mink Harbour (completed July 1884) and Red Sucker Cove (September 1884). One mile including a tunnel at Jack Fish Bay cost $700,000 and the three mile section here cost $1,200,000!

Eventually, certain over expenditures were uncovered whereby measurements of excavations contractors had been overpaid including one of $550,000 on their 126 mile section. In actuality it was not a major expense in this costly work however Van Horne relieved the engineer in charge following completion of the work.

Bankruptcy Threatens - Trouble Intervenes

The high cost of the work threatened to bankrupt the fledgling Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
A government loan in 1884 helped keep things going a while longer and in October 1884 it was decreed that men would be paid by cheque as it was too dangerous to send out the pay car each month with $1 million cash in it. The real reason for this move was the lack of any place to cash their cheques in the isolated areas of Superior where 9,000 men were kept at work throughout the rugged winter.

Early in 1885 George Stephen was writing the Prime Minister and waiting upon him in Ottawa while Shaughnessy stalled paying bills. Macdonald was preoccupied with political matters of importance to him and little disposed to appease the CPR once again.

George Stephen and Donald A. Smith had pledged everything they owned. So concerned about their integrity was George Stephen, who had just borrowed against his new home and all of its contents, that he stated in the event of bankruptcy they must not be seen to have so much as a dollar of their own.

Midland Regiment on parade at Winnipeg en route to the front.

The second North West Rebellion led by Louis Riel (biography) broke out in the spring of 1885 in Saskatchewan. The government could not send armed troops through the United States to reach the west and during the first uprising in 1869 under Riel in Red River country it had taken troops 96 days to get there over 47 portages across the Canadian Shield. It turned instead to the CPR for assistance in getting them there. The first troops, 228 men, along with their horses and guns left Montreal arriving at the end of track on Sunday, March 29th, 1885. Ahead lay 267 miles before they were to reach the track from the west at Red Rock. The infantry travelled by rail for 169 miles and on foot for the balance of 98 miles some of it over the frozen ice of Lake Superior and Nepigon Bay taking about 96 hours. Conditions were horrendous in winter, travelling in open freight cars for the most part and walking for great distances over the breaks in the railway.

The train trip from Red Rock to Winnipeg took another 24 hours with the total journey taking seven days compared to the three months for the first North West Rebellion 15 years earlier. A further 2,750 officers and men followed immediately.

The Rebellion by the Metis people was put down and its leader, Louis Riel hung. Law and order prevailed and the troops were returned to the east, although they were held while the line was completed. The last spike was driven just west of Jack Fish Tunnel on May 16th, 1885.

Work continued all summer finishing the many undone tasks completing ballasting, building stations and other facilities including establishing division points for servicing locomotives and rolling stock at the usual interval of about 125 miles. Cartier, Chapleau, White River and Schreiber were where terminals were established.

Suddenly, the government could justify further loans to the CPR ending the cash crunch. A bill placed before Parliament provided for the postponement of $29 million of government loans until May 1st, 1891 and the issue of $35 million dollars of 50 year 5% bonds. Stephen went to England again and this time the banking houses were receptive to his offering. Baring Bothers, an old and reputable house took 3 million Pounds (nearly $15 million). Upon completion of the CPR in November 1885 Baring bought the remainder of the issue. So, flush with cash the CPR decided to pay off all of the government loans five years ahead of time. The railway itself was completed five years ahead of its obligation.

To the East Coast

In addition to all the work undertaken to build the CPR to the west coast and the gathering together of many other railways to connect with southern Ontario and the United States, there was also the matter of the east coast of Canada.

Early on the CPR's principals intended to create a truly transcontinental railway stretching as did Canada itself From Sea to Sea. They (George Stephen was one of the principals) had secured a charter for the Atlantic & North-West that allowed them to build from the Atlantic coast to Lake Superior.

The Eastern Townships of Quebec was where the CPR would have to go through to reach the east coast. Here the small South Eastern had been struggling to survive. In 1882 Duncan McIntyre became a director and the CPR made loans to the troubled railway. Later, they called the loans forcing the SER into bankruptcy.

It was taken over by the Montreal & Atlantic incorporated in 1891 for that purpose. Followed by the lease of the International it got to the Maine border where it connected with the Maine Central to cross that State. At the other end it connected with the New Brunswick whose principal shareholder was none other than George Stephen. Sure gets around!

The CPR acquired control of the New Brunswick and its leased lines effective September 1st, 1890 along with other small railways over the years for a total of 657 miles in New Brunswick. This resulted in what was known as the Short Line, a 481 mile long run from Montreal to Saint John, New Brunswick, more than 200 miles shorter than the all-Canadian GTR/IRC route to St. John. The first passenger train of four cars had already made the trip leaving Montreal on June 2rd, 1889 led as far as Megantic by 4-4-0 174 (ex TG&B 25).

The CPR would go farther on to Nova Scotia when it eventually leased the Dominion Atlantic in 1912 and to acquire control of the Quebec Central also in 1912, to say nothing of the Esquimalt & Naniamo in 1905 on the extreme west coast of Canada.

Expansion throughout the Prairies and elsewhere would continue on for another half century, sometimes on an almost ruinous basis as the CPR and GTR fought for traffic running branchlines everywhere.

The Mountains


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