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Old Time Trains

Canadian Pacific Railway

Trenton Division

Kingston & Pembroke


Memories of the Old K&P


485 leaving Kingston with mixed train.

Kingston waterfront ENLARGE

Kingston & Pembroke 9 Boyd Caldwell 4-4-0 Public Archives C-53174

CPR D4 class 4-6-0 452 in Kingston, c.1953. David Mc.Queen

CPR A2 class 4-4-0 136 in Renfrew waiting to leave with (likely Eganville) Mixed train
back when it was just another CPR steam locomotive. CS&TM/Mattingly Collection

Gallery Kingston Sub


The Kingston & Pembroke was one of the few railways comprising the CPR's lines in southern Ontario and the Maritimes that actually operated independently for a few years. Most were "paper" railways, incorporated by the CPR itself, or fronted by people friendly to the CPR, or in fact to any major railway that would immediately buy them out to eliminate competition, or having them fall into the hands of another system.

No less than six attempts dating from 1846 were made to build a railway from Kingston in different directions, none of which ever did anything. Finally, the Kingston & Pembroke was incorporated by local marine shipping interests April 14,1871 to build from Kingston to Pembroke and with a ferry or bridge across the Ottawa River to Quebec. The traffic sought was largely lumber from the headwaters of the Madawaska, Mississippi and Napanee rivers.

The Railway Aid Act of 1870 helped get things going on June 17,1872 with a sod turning ceremony in Kingston. It crossed the mainline of the GTR, whose spur into Kingston opened November 10,1860 and headed north into the bush, swamp and rugged rock of the Great Precambrian Shield. To reduce costs the line wandered around obstructions putting so many 6 degree curves, (314!), into it that ultimately over 1/3 of the K&P was on a curve! And 2/3 was uphill or downhill! So poor was the construction, work was stopped, and faulty subgrade had to be removed.

A reorganization in 1875 got things going right, 50 lb. iron rail was laid on 2640 ties to the mile and 29 miles opened to Iron Jct. (Godfrey) on June 17th. The right-of-way was 66' wide to here and 99 ' beyond. It then passed through Parnham Jct. which years later would be renamed Tichborne Jct. (Tichborne) when the new CPR lake shore line went through. Work continued on, crossing Sharbot Lake on a rock-filled causeway, opening May 8,1876. At this time the K&P owned two wood burning 4-4-0's, one combine, one coach and 30 platform (flat) cars. Much tonnage would be hauled to Sharbot Lake for the O&Q which was building its new mainline from there in both directions. In 1878 work continued on from Sharbot Lake, where an engine house was built, now using 56 lb. steel rail in place of the 50 lb. iron rail. Work proceeded slowly beyond here and a crossing of Calabogie Lake was a real obstacle. It was overcome with a causeway, and the line was completed into Calabogie in early 1884. The most spectacular point on the K&P was a rock cut at Calabogie 3000 feet long, 44 feet high, and only 22 feet wide.

Construction work eased beyond here, and with major new funds (over $1 Million), the line was opened to Renfrew December 26,1884, just in time to qualify for an extra $50,000, not from Renfrew, but rather Kingston. Renfrew was no longer worried about a railway as they already had one, the Canada Central went through in 1873. This money was available, as was so often the case with promised money, provided the railway reached Renfrew by January 1st. Sometimes this called for skimpy work being done just to beat the deadline, with final details finished later. In one case on another railway, using the flowery writing of those years, a big bonus was to be paid "provided the sound of a steam engine whistle was heard in the town" by a certain date. This called for imaginative and creative work being done to qualify. A live steam locomotive was brought the last few miles into town using temporary track sections leap-frogged along until it crossed the town limit. There it sat and its whistle was blown just hours before midnight!

In addition to the lumber traffic, there were lumber and other mills up and down the line, iron ore and other mines including mica and felspar. Some of these were served by short spurs of about 1 mile each. Lavant was the highest point on the railway, here besides iron mines was a nearby locally famous tourist attraction, a cave! Snow Road shipped pulpwood and other wood, but it also was big source of maple syrup. Eels on the Mississippi were shipped to the fish market in Kingston. Snow Road closed March 1,1961, except for CP Express service which lasted until the end of December 1961.

Kingston had a 5-stall wooden roundhouse built in 1876 near the waterfront. A station was built opposite city hall in 1885, to reach this station the K&P operated on 1/10th of a mile of GTR joint section and then 2/10ths of a mile of their own track. A spur to the Canadian Locomotive Company works provided a unique source of traffic for the K&P, which also purchased locomotives for themselves, including by 1907, 8 tiny 4-4-0's.

A proposed branch to Sydenham and Yarker via Harrowsmith, was dropped when the Napanee, Tamworth & Quebec which was planning an extension from Yarker into Kingston, ran into problems with Kingston in locating its right-of-way. An agreement was reached allowing the NT&Q trackage rights over the K&P into Kingston. The NT&Q opened to Harrowsmith December 2,1889. This allowed lumber to be shipped to the Rathbun Company's massive mills in Deseronto.

In 1890 the K&P acquired rights over the CPR from Renfrew to Pembroke and Nipissing, but never used them. The K&P died at Renfrew; Pembroke might as well have been "Pacific"! However, in 1901 a survey was made from Sharbot Lake to Lanark (24 miles) and Carleton Place (12 miles) with a maximum 1% grade. Again, nothing was built.

Annual pass signed by the last K&P president before CPR takeover.

By November 1901 the CPR had acquired 83% of the shares of the K&P and CPR officials replaced K&P ones. Effective November 1,1913 the CPR leased the K&P for 999 years. It did not last that long, not even 99 years. It became the Kingston Subdivision and the mileages were reversed, starting at Renfrew instead of Kingston.

The steep grades limited tonnage.

Kingston to Sharbot Lake northbound was 1.5% D-10 910 tons D-4 580 tons.
Sharbot Lake to Renfrew northbound was 2.0% D-10 825 tons. D-4 525 tons.
Renfrew to Sharbot Lake southbound was 1.5% D-10 910 tons. D-4 580 tons.
Sharbot Lake to Kingston southbound was 1.1% D-10 1070 tons D-4 680 tons.

There were troubled times for the "Kick and Push", as the Kingston and Pembroke was irreverently referred to, as was common with early railways. It was in receivership from 1894 to 1898. Coming out of receivership, the K&P had in 1899, 9 locomotives, 18 passenger cars, 172 freight cars, 2 snow plows and 2 flangers. The annual report for 1900 showed gross revenue of less than $500 a day, which produced a profit of about $120 per day.

Improvements made in 1912 included rebuilding of several bridges, some 65 lb. rail, much re-ballasting and a 70' turntable at Kingston. This turntable was finally relocated in 1974 to Wakefield, Quebec for use by the steam excursion trains operated first by the Bytown Railway Society and later by the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield (tourist) Railroad which still uses it.

The majority of stations were flag stops, in common with most branchlines and also in common with many slow-paced branches the conductor would stop the train anywhere for local residents. Passenger service declined to just mixed trains. The September 1936 employee timetable indicated a pair of Daily except Sunday mixed trains that met at Sharbot Lake where connections were made with CPR (O&Q) Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal trains. One more mixed operated between Sharbot Lake and Kingston. The last through mixed trains between Kingston and Renfrew, (Daily Except Sunday), ran on Saturday June 15,1957, as M612 engine 417 southbound and M613 engine 492 northbound. The small D4 class Ten-Wheelers were always adequate for the small amount of traffic handled. Following this there was a Renfrew-Sharbot Lake mixed, and a Sharbot Lake-Kingston mixed. April 1959 employee timetable was the last with a Kingston mixed train service. October 1959 had Renfrew-Sharbot Lake twice a week and even this ended on June 21, 1960 which was the last mixed train on the subdivision.

Sharbot Lake - Renfrew Mixed

Robert J. (Bob) Sandusky

NOTICE sign on end of coal chute.

I rode the K&P north from Sharbot Lake in April 1958 along with some friends.

Mixed 783 (Sharbot Lake-Renfrew) hauled by D10 870 stops at Lavant, April 4, 1958.
This train still operated with a Railway Post Office.

When our short mixed train had finished at Calabogie station (Mileage 14.4 due 3:15 p.m.) ) it moved north a short distance and stopped around a curve just out of sight. The mill spur was there and the loco cut off and with some box cars disappeared for quite a while. The above photo shows it returning to the train. To-day’s satellite photos show the spur going a long way southwest near to-day’s Mill Street, almost to the lake. It looks like the sort of place where logs were pulled up out of the water and fed into the mill. The buildings in the photo might have been for lumber but we did not examine them to know their true purpose. Satellite view

870 leaving Renfrew enginehouse, next day (April 5th) to take Mixed 782 back to Sharbot Lake.
Note flanger 400501 and passenger car, also diamond with wye track.
The enginehouse remained for other use.

D10h 1106 (last D10 was 1111) CLC #1142 11/1913

Once a typical sight of tail end crew on shoving move. Note the backup airhose in place.
This is on the Kingston Sub. parallel to the Chalk River Sub. mainline between Renfrew Jct. and Renfrew.

Renfrew Mile 59 Chalk River Subdivision.
Above three images in Renfrew taken April 5, 1958
All five photographs by Robert J. (Bob) Sandusky

The End is Near

The last through freight train ran December 29,1961 and abandonment soon began. It took place in segments, starting in January 1962 with a 27.9 mile portion between Calabogie and Snow Road. Sharbot Lake to Tichborne followed in February 1964, this was the 8.5 mile piece between the Havelock and Belleville Subs. Then, Snow Road to Sharbot Lake another 14.5 miles in September 1966. Next, 14.4 miles in February 1977 between Calabogie and Renfrew. This left only Tichborne to Kingston, which was finally abandoned in 1986 when an Order was issued on December 8, 1986 covering the transfer to CNR of a tiny segment in Kingston between Mileage 100.25 to 100.87. This would allow local customers to be served by CNR. Following this transfer, with 35 days notice, the balance of the line between Mile 65.3 (Tichborne) and 100.25 an between 100.87 and 102.09 could be abandoned. At one time trains operated beyond this point to a Joint Track with CNR for one-tenth of a mile 103.3 and 103.4 then another two-tenths to 103.6 to reach Kingston station. The last run from Smiths Falls to Kingston and return took place on October 10, 1986 with engine 1827.

Following abandonment of the old K&P line many stations went on to another life as residences,
while the right-of-way and bridges remained behind, mostly unwanted. Some of what was left behind can be seen below and in the station gallery.

Calabogie Lake, June 1983 Gene Burles

Sharbot Lake, June 1983 Gene Burles

Here are some photos from a trip my friend Jim Christie & I made in October of 1981. We followed the K & P from Calabogie down to Clarendon, ON. You can't drive across the Calabogie causeway as a bridge has rotted out. That is Jim's 1978 Nova. The water over the ROW was so deep in places that the engine fan was splashing water! In those days of our youth we didn't consider the consequences of getting stuck or being washed away.
If we did get stuck it was a looooooong walk back to any town! Ian Walker

Abandoned right-of-way near Calabogie.

"Passenger service" along the abandoned right-of-way near Calabogie!

Former Clarendon station still in existance.

Former Lavant station.

Gallery Kingston Sub
same link as near top of page

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