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Old Time Trains

Canadian Pacific Railway

London Division Branch Lines

Guelph and Goderich


Guelph Freight Office May, 1964 Max Miller/Bob Rathke Collection

The Town of Guelph has had a railway since July 1856 when the Grand Trunk Railway went through from Toronto enroute to Sarnia. They also had a Great Western Railway branch from Harrisburg (near Paris), on the Niagara-Windsor mainline. It ran to Galt, where the Galt & Guelph (GWR) continued into Guelph to connect with another GWR line, the Wellington, Grey and Bruce which set out to build from Guelph to Southampton and to Owen Sound. Unfortunately, in 1882 the Great Western was taken over by the Grand Trunk, so now they had only one railway to serve the growing traffic of Guelph.

Eager to be free of this monopoly, in 1884 Guelph incorporated the Guelph Junction Railway, to build 15 miles south to the CPR main line and onward to Burlington. In May 1887, it was leased to the CPR and construction began in November. The line opened August 20, 1888, with 56 lb. rails and a maximum of 1% grade. Once again Guelph had competition! A two-stall engine house was located on the tail of the wye, (it was still there in 1976!) A passenger station and freight shed were also built at Priory Square. The line ended at Goldie's Mill at Norwich Street. Mile 31.76 from Hamilton Junction.

September 11, 1888, the lease was revised to 99 years, with expiry in 1987. The lease provided for twice-daily passenger service. It also prohibited disposal of any of the GJR's property, something that would cause great legal difficulties many years later with another CPR leased railway, the Ontario & Quebec. The City held two-thirds of the stock and received a generous 40% of the GROSS of all freight, passenger, and express revenues! This has paid off handsomely over the years. In November 1910, the City of Guelph acquired all of the common stock of the GJR, making it a unique municipal-owned railway, one of only two in all of Canada. Winnipeg's Great Winnipeg Water District Railway is the other one, but it is not a common carrier.

The original ten shareholders were all Guelph businessmen and included the GJR's first president, William Bell, founder of the Bell Organ Company, Charles Raymond, of the Raymond sewing machine factory and George Sleeman of brewery fame.

A new brick station was built in 1911 on CPR property at Eramosa Road (Mile 31.6), about one and a half blocks south of the end of the GJR and beginning of the G&G.

Branchline Passenger service

Renewal of the GJR lease in 1987 was under much less favourable terms to the City in recognition of the declined business on the line. Exempt was an ancient, c.1860 arena, once Royal Skate Company, which the CPR had used as a freight shed and at the time being used as a performing arts centre.

In 1989 under a strange organizational revamp, the CPR turned the GJR, and a short 3.1 mile stub of the old G&G, over to the TH&B which it also owned! It then came under the St.Lawrence & Hudson Railway! This was not to last for long as the CPR served notice to the GJR/City that it would not be renewing the lease expiring December 31, 1997. The Guelph Junction Railway would have to go it alone! The City undertook to take over its railway and contracted with Ontario Southland Railway a small contract switching operator to provide service. It was the beginning of a renascence!

Only one track into this small enginehouse in Guelph. Track to the left is part of the wye the tail of
which leads to an industrial spur ending at Fiberglas Canada on York Road still in use in 2014!
Wellington County Museum and Archives. 1973. Demolished around 1980.

Coal plant 50 ton. Article February 1921

6538 equipped with a Watchman heater sits on a very short piece of track in lieu of an enginehouse.
MLW S-3 660 hp 81194 7/1955

6537 working Guelph Yard job with well-known engineer Don Broadbear.

G2G Rail Trail (Guelph to Goderich)

Guelph and Goderich Railway.

In 1886 the GJR charter was revised to allow for an Extension to Goderich as a sought after source of traffic at the harbour. The CPR delayed undertaking this work for years while Guelph hounded them to get on with it. By December 1903 the CPR finished three surveys; first via Linwood, Atwood, Brussels and Listowel; second via Conestogo, Linwood, Atwood, Brussels; and third via Seaforth and Clinton. Finally, in 1904 the Guelph Junction Railway announced it would be applying to Parliament seeking a charter to incorporate the Goderich & Guelph Railway, between Guelph and Goderich along with branches to Listowel, St.Mary's Stratford and Clinton. The CPR caved in and agreed to honour their intention to build the long-sought after 80 mile Extension, with work beginning in 1904. It began at Norwich Street (Mile 31.75 Goderich Sub.) The G & G was opened between Guelph and Elmira on June 1906; to Millbank by the end of August; Milverton November 15th. And finally, Goderich to Blyth on August 26,1907, this section delayed by a dispute with the GTR over use of the harbour area. At the same time the GJR was re-laid with 80 lb. rail to match the G&G. The first passenger train left Goderich August 26,1907. The line to Guelph Junction was 105.4 miles with a further 16.4 to Hamilton Junction totalling 111.8. This latter portion of the line was built under the charter of the South Ontario Pacific which was leased to the CPR effective January 1, 1912 and opened July 1, 1912.

The grade beyond Ariss was mild (0.75%), for the most part with the major exception of the climb out of the harbour at Goderich to Blyth which cut tonnage to less than half. (855 tons vs 1770 for a D10). A spectacular 695' steel bridge over the Maitland River in Goderich has survived abandonment to become part of a hiking trail. A 4-stall enginehouse with 70' turntable was located right on the waterfront along with a fine, large brick station and a traditional enclosed octagonal water tank. Grain, and salt mined at Goderich was the main traffic handled.

October 6, 1904 the G&G was leased to the CPR for 999 years! By 1913, control of the common stock was in the CPR's hands. But, it could only reach the rest of the CPR's vast network over the GJR! And, here once again the City of Guelph proved astute in securing good revenue for this traffic along with a prohibition against diverting G&G traffic off the GJR! In other words if the CPR were to build another line connecting to the G&G somewhere else, they could not re-route traffic over it. Very astute indeed!

Goderich and Guelph were B class yards, two of a few on the Ontario District
and as such operated with only a two-man ground crew instead of the standard three men.

Guelph Junction-Hamilton

Hamilton Junction Mile .0 to Mile 16.4 Goderich Subdivision

November 1910 the Southern Ontario Pacific (CPR) announces it will build from Hamilton to Guelph Junction. February 21,1911 the CPR files plans for this line as well as onward through Georgetown or Acton to Georgian Bay. May 1911 construction was started at Guelph Jct. via Waterdown to Hamilton. 16.3 miles of 85 pound rail and a steep grade of approximately 1.9% - the steepest in Southern Ontario climbing 586' in only 5.4 miles - northward to Waterdown that restricted tonnage severely, a D-10 being limited to only 515 tons but 1315 afterwards. The line opened July 1, 1912 after having been leased to the CPR effective January 1,1912 for 999 years! This was to be the only piece of railway built using the SOP charter.

Extra 5118 North on the wye heading to the Hamilton Sub. seen from Dundurn Street with Poulette Street bridge in the background. Tunnel in background out of view. Canada Street is deadend street at upper left. TH&B tracks to the right lead to Aberdeen Yard where this train just backed out from. Likely this train came from Quebec Street in London and is now returning there via Guelph Junction.
Hamilton June 1958 Clayton Langstaff

Guelph Junction Mile 16.4 to Guelph Mile 31.6 and Goderich Mile 111.8 Goderich Subdivision

This view of the Goderich Sub. outside Elmira, looking west shows how straight the line was. April 1986. Eugene D. Burles

Long-abandoned (1939) CNR (London, Huron & Bruce) right-of-way overhead.
Blyth, May 21, 1972. Al Howlett.. Note Al's children!

TH&B 402 a long-hood forward GP9, once in passenger service, works Goderich-Aberdeen freight.
October 4, 1979 Al Howlett

Long out of use this steam-era water tank was still in place at Blyth in 1972 and
in fact it remains in existance long after abandonment of the line. Al Howlett

Abandoned lines Blyth CPR & CNR inc. station


G2G Rail Trail (Guelph to Goderich)

G.A.R.T Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail
Video of bike ride along dirt trail. (6 minutes)


Birdseye view of Goderich from hillside shows original terminal circa 1915,
Lake Huron in the background. Public Archives of Canada #PA69988

D-10 892 on shop track for Mixed train in foreground. 6275 in background.
July 1955 Harry Otterbein/Randy Masales Collection

892 on the table. July 1955 Harry Otterbein/Randy Masales Collection

View of the yard with 892. July 1955 Harry Otterbein/Randy Masales Collection

6275 switching the combine for the Mixed train. Note the hand car!
July 1955 Harry Otterbein/Randy Masales Collection

Two views of 6295 on the table.

Two views of 6275 at rest on the shop track. Bill Thomson


6275 switching at Goderich, May 30, 1958 Al Paterson

Engine 6275 became the very last 0-6-0 operating anywhere on the C.P.R. working at Goderich between March and December 1958 where it finished up at 12 noon on Saturday December 6th. Note indicator on water tank showing half full. These engines were very similar to Essex Terminal Railway #9 operated by the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society (SOLRS).


On a very hot summer's day in August of 1958 6275 simmers quietly in Goderich Yard.

past station

Then, the crew comes back to work and smokes up the area a little as they shove
back towards the elevator. Note the yardman "decorating" as they pass the beach.
August 1958 R.L.Kennedy


The turntable remained in its original location following demolition of enginehouse.


6275 is preserved inside the Huron County Pioneer Museum in Goderich.
July 31, 2013 James A. Brown

Al Howlett

Note: 6275 was replaced by 6589 an MLW S3 until a tiny 44 ton Hydraulic Switcher
number 17 was delivered by CLC in early May of 1959.

17 sits in the yard. Note the Champion grader loaded on a flat car ready for shipment. An end ramp built for this purpose was located to the right just out of view. Although the factory was located on the CNR Champion Road Machinery preferred to ship mostly by CPR. William D. Thomson

The old enginehouse will soon be demolished.

July 1963

Two views of HS-17 switching in Goderich yard 6/20/1968 Bruce Chapman Collection

Eventually, the yard job was abolished with all work being handled by the regular daily freight to and from Guelph Junction (later, Aberdeen) the long run requiring two crews working alternate days.
17 was sold August 9, 1974 to Babcock and Wilcox in Galt where it continued working for many more years.

June 1978 Walter Pfefferle Collection

Note: In July 1960 the old wooden three stall enginehouse was replaced by a
small metal engine house (above) built in 1951 and relocated from Chatham.

Listowel Branch

Declining traffic on a line that ran 80 miles to serve Goderich brought about its demise, the last run being made on December 16, 1988. (Abandoned December 31st) The CNR served Goderich from Stratford via a shorter distance and the small villages in between held little remaining agricultural traffic for the CPR across the flat open land that was difficult to plow in winter. Grain traffic died at Goderich the same as at Owen Sound with changes to grain rates, when the "At and East" subsidy was eliminated which very quickly killed off all grain traffic from Western Canada. Road salt, was a major commodity, but it was both seasonal and offered only a low freight rate, while at the same time the covered hopper cars were corroding out at an alarming pace, faster than they were being written-off! It was a dead loss!

The station in Goderich has been preserved, relocated nearby and turned into a restaurant.
The viaduct was saved for a hiking path between Goderich and Auburn.

Eventually, even the CNR got out of Goderich, when for the first time in Ontario, a new railway was created by Railtex, a US outfit based in Texas, well known for its non-union status, which owned many such short lines created from cast-offs of the major railroads. Goderich-Exeter Railway began April 3, 1992.

Bruce Branches: Although the Bruce Branches were administered by the London Division for a time
they are not included here since they historically belong to the Bruce Division.

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