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Toronto, Grey & Bruce


Roadside plaque in Orangeville. Alan L Brown

Very few photograph exist of TG&B engines, even less of pre-CPR views.
This one shows narrow gauge 17 Sarawak, one of six Baldwin 2-8-0's built in 1874.
At 32 tons they were the biggest engines on the roster (except for 0-6-6-0 Caledon) as were their
41 inch drivers and tractive effort of 15,400 which eased out the Fairlie Caledon at 15,000.
Boston Mills Collection

Map of Ontario Division 1884

The earliest component of the CPR Bruce Division was the Owen Sound Section, later known as District #3 of the Ontario District, it had originally been built by the Toronto, Grey & Bruce as a narrow gauge line.

It was built to serve the transportation needs of the rural area beyond Orangeville (Pop.500), much of which had only rudimentary roads built by settlers who received land in return for their labour. These roads were difficult to traverse at the best of times and impossible at other times. Lake transportation to Owen Sound, Kincardine etc. served those communities, but the area inland was sparsely populated and underdeveloped, hampered by the lack of cheap transportation to reach markets.

Cordwood was a much-needed commodity for heating, and freight rates for its wagon transportation were high using the primitive roads over long distances necessary to reach the GTR for delivery to Toronto. To overcome this disadvantage a tramway from Orangeville to Brampton to connect with the Grand Trunk was first proposed in 1864. The Orangeville Tram Company was created, originally intended to be horse powered it struggled along trying to raise funds, changing its plans to being a steam railway. In August 1868 Ontario legislation approved the Toronto & Owen Sound Central, but it died at the Railway Committee.

Toronto businessmen took up the challenge and The Toronto, Grey & Bruce was incorporated (Ontario) March 4, 1868 to build from Toronto to Orangeville, Mount Forest, Durham and Southampton on Lake Huron, with a branch to Kincardine, and another from Mount Forest to Owen Sound. It was to be built to the Colonial narrow gauge of 3' 6". Some 30,000 shares of $100 each were offered at the usual 10% down payment with further payments due where called for. It was promoted by George Laidlaw, who was also involved with another narrow gauge railway, the Toronto & Nipissing, being built at the same time to the northeast of Toronto.

The reason narrow gauge was chosen was a simple one, cost. A railway could be built for only $5,100 per mile of 3' 6" track, compared to $8,100 for the normal 5' 6' Provincial gauge. This was done using 40 lb. iron rail from England, laid with opposite joints, by famed railway contractor, Francis Shanly. It was soon to prove to be an unwise choice, even before the two TG&B lines were completed.

A sod turning ceremony in Weston, on October 5th 1869 by Prince Arthur, who was on a Royal Tour at the time, brought out hundreds of people, requiring a 14 car special train on the GTR from Toronto. Work carried on northward, crossing the Humber River on the biggest bridge on the line, 333'6" long, a sharp curve of 462 feet radius, and down a grade of 1.7%. On through Woodbridge, and Kleinburg; and a year and two months later on December 10th 1870, a Director's Special train ran to Bolton at the fine speed of 25 miles per hour! The line continued on towards the Caledon Hills and a 4.4 mile grade averaging 1.8% (maximum 2%) from Cardwell to near Mountain Siding, about 2 miles east of Charleston (Caledon), around a horseshoe curve of 11 and 12 degree curves and 462 foot radius, that was destined to become infamous when a CPR train wrecked on it in 1907. Again, on April 10th 1871 another Special train hauled by engine Gordon was operated, this time to Alton. A week later, on April 17th the first train, a doubleheader, arrived in Orangeville.
The first scheduled passenger service began on Monday, July 17th twice daily between Toronto and Bolton. Twice daily mixed train service to Orangeville began Monday, September 18th. Formal opening wasn't until Friday, November 3, 1871 when a special train from Toronto doubleheaded by number 1 Gordon, a 4-6-0 and number 9 Toronto, a new Baldwin 2-6-0 brought about 400 people in eight first class cars (some loaned by T&NR) to the festivities which included a procession to the Town Hall led by the Queen's Own band, and a Grand Ball in the evening. Such festivities were common in the 19th Century, so vitally important was the coming of the railway.

Map of Woodbridge area track relocation.

Judge's cattle underpass on their farm. Mileage 35.7 just south of the horseshoe curve.
August 1898 J.W.Heckman/Canadian Pacific Corporate Archives

More than a century later the abutments remain in place! May 2006 Brandon Muir

Service began to Mount Forest Monday, December 11, 1871, and construction was to carry on to Owen Sound. It was abruptly changed when Grey County reneged on its promise of a large bonus. Note: A turntable was located here and another at Orangeville.

A new line was begun four miles north of Orangeville at the top of a short, steep grade, at a point named Orangeville Junction (Fraxa, pronounced Fraxie). In 1872 it headed north through other communities that supported the railway with bonuses. On November 18th track reached Dundalk, the height of land at 1460 feet, (the highest point in southern Ontario), from here it was downgrade to Owen Sound at 337 feet above Lake Ontario. It was planned to build a two-stall engine house with a turntable at Dundalk, but it was not to happen. The first train to arrive in Owen Sound was a Director's special on Thursday, June 12, 1873. Regular service, a mixed train between Orangeville and Owen Sound began Saturday, August 9th. The grand opening ceremony was held October 9th with a special train from Toronto to Owen Sound.

With the opening of the line, Vickers Express Company began servicing all TG&B stations.

Back at Mount Forest, a relocation of the line was decided upon, resulting in a short spur just over a mile long to reach Mount Forest, with the main line south of there, now heading off in a westerly direction through Harriston (December 1873), towards Wingham. It had been planned to connect with the Wellington, Grey & Bruce, at Wingham and use their standard gauge line (with a third rail, of course) to reach Kincardine. The WG&B wanted no part of this, fearing loss of traffic. When this failed to occur, the branch to Kincardine was cancelled and the planned route was re-aligned to Teeswater instead, and ending there, being opened November 11, 1874 with regular service beginning on Monday the 16th. The obligatory special train ran on Monday, November 23, 1874 from Toronto to Teeswater. Note: The CPR finally built a 3.6 mile line into Wingham in 1887.

Stages connected with trains at many points to serve other places. Following standard gauging, Owen Sound could be reached in 6 hours, and Teeswater in 6 hours and 45 minutes. In later years Owen Sound was reduced to 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Construction of both of these lines at the same time put a strain on the company, with their funds being used on the Teeswater line while they struggled for government assistance with the Owen Sound line, having spent $500,000 acquiring land. None was forthcoming.

The railway had opened up the country north and west of Orangeville just as did railways all over Canada. A large expanse of land that in 1866 could not be sold for 10 cents per acre, was sold 5 years later for $1 and up!

Financial difficulties continued as the railway attempted to get $1 million from the Provincial Government to cover the cost of the long-desired conversion to standard gauge. When they failed to get the assistance, the directors all resigned, turning things over to the bondholders. The new directors included William Hendrie (Hendrie Cartage), James.G.Worts and George Gooderham (Gooderham & Worts distillery), who soon turned things over to the Grand Trunk. Messers Gooderham and Worts were also directors of the other Ontario narrow gauge railway, the Toronto & Nipissing.

The Grand Trunk took over, upgrading the line's bridges, rail, etc. The change to standard gauge (December 8, 1881), involved the conversion of 12 out of the 20 narrow gauge locomotives and acquisition of 10 secondhand 4-4-0's from the GTR and ICR, and two old GWR 0-6-0's built in 1856. The estimated cost of all this came to $785,000.

The GTR's own financial difficulties led to the sale of their TG&B stock, which was a minority interest only, control had eluded them. The CPR stepped in and their Ontario & Quebec leased the TG&B effective August 1, 1883, for 999 years! The O&Q itself was leased to the CPR effective November 1, 1883 in perpetuity.

A brief newspaper item Thursday, October 9, 1884 reported: The annual meeting of the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway Company was held in the C.P.R. building, King Street West, Toronto. The secretary read the report of the past year, in which it was stated that the lease to the Ontario & Quebec Railway Company had gone into operation on the first of August last and that the company's account from that date had been merged with the O&Q. The annual rental is $140,000, which is provided to be paid to the TG&B half-yearly and will be applied direct to paying 4% on the $3.5 million bond issue.


Map showing layout of tracks.

Parkdale has the some earliest CPR history in Toronto, for it was through here the Toronto, Grey & Bruce ran in 1871 from the GTR union station in downtown Toronto parallel to the GWR crossing it in Parkdale and then running over the GTR to Weston where it took to its own right-of-way. The TG&B was narrow gauge (3’6"), necessitating laying a third rail between the standard (4’ 8 ½") rails along this 6.25 mile Joint Section. At the same time they leased from the GTR their former freight shed at Queen’s Wharf near what is now Bathurst & Fleet Streets just south of Old Fort York. These facilities, including a station and a cruciform brick engine house, were originally built in 1855 by the GTR for their western line from Queen's Wharf through Parkdale, Carlton, Weston to Brampton (passenger service to that point began October 18, 1855), Stratford and London. Locomotives were serviced at the Northern Ry. of Canada (formerly, OS&H) shops. The line ran west past Fort York swinging north and crossing the broad gauge (5’6") GWR continuing to Parkdale. This narrow and broad gauge diamond was possibly the only such crossing there was; certainly it was rare. It continued through Parkdale on its way to Weston, Bolton, Orangeville and eventually Owen Sound, reached in 1873.
Note: There was no connection between Grand Trunk Railway of Canada lines to the east and west of Toronto until creation of The Esplanade along the waterfront to connect them and other railways.

This dual gauge trackage arrangement was unique, as was the multi-gauge situation around Parkdale. There was the Great Western branch from Hamilton, which was Provincial broad gauge of 5 feet 6 inches (66 inches), which was crossed by the TG&B Colonial narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches (42 inches). And there was the standard gauge, 4 feet 8 and one half inch GTR.

Increased traffic on the Joint Section caused the TG&B to once again seek a right of way of its own. They were successful when the City of Toronto helped fund the line. Work started in May 1874 on its own right-of-way to the east side of the Northern Railway (former OS&H, later CNR Newmarket Sub.) and it was opened November 1, 1875.

Parkdale was lightly populated before finally reaching the minimal 750 residents to qualify for incorporation as a village January 1, 1879. CVR passenger trains provided service beginning September 1st. TG&B passenger trains began stopping at North Parkdale station by January 1883.

In December 1881 the TG&B was standard gauged. July 26,1883 it was leased by the Ontario & Quebec, which was in turn taken over in January 1884 by the CPR.

CPR ex CVR North Parkdale station built 1879, seen here on August 15,1898.
J.W.Heckman/Canadian Pacific Corporate Archives A20578.


Instructions governing steep grades 1898

Employee Time Table 1909
Note mileage changes due to starting at West Toronto.

Narrow Gauge Equipment

TG&B 7 Caledon

No.3 Kincardine 4-4-0 Avonside Locomotive Works 808 1870

The equipment of the narrow gauge railway once thought to be quite adequate for the traffic to be handled soon proved to be very inadequate. It began in 1870 with five tiny 15 ton wood burning 4-4-0's and one 20 ton
4-6-0 built in England. The next year came five 20 & 25 ton 4-6-0's along with two 17 ton 2-6-0's from Baldwin in the USA. Also, a "massive" 42 ton Fairlie type 0-6-6-0 equipped with two boilers and a center cab, came for use on the steep Caledon horseshoe grade. (The T&N also acquired one of the very unique Fairlie
0-6-6-0's). In 1874 Baldwin provided six 32 ton 2-8-0's for use on the grade. A total of 20 locomotives,
only 12 of which were later converted to standard gauge.

Freight equipment was of British type as well. 451 freight cars included 2 axle 15 foot box cars holding 6 tons, and unusual 3 axle 18 foot 10 ton flat cars and 30 stock cars. There were 18 passenger cars including ten 35 foot 44 seat. coaches and two parlor cars. 13 vans and 2 snow plows.

£100 Sterling First Mortgage Bond, paying £2 4% semi-annual interest. June 1884.
Old Time Trains Archives

One of the very few pieces of evidence that Toronto, Grey & Bruce still existed was the One Hundred Pound Sterling 4% 999 year First Mortgage Bonds. These were bearer bonds that traded on the unlisted market including in the Channel Islands, a well-known tax haven.

Common shares also existed, the CPR held 68% of them, the balance had disappeared by the time the TG&B came into public view when the Ontario and Quebec, which had leased the TG&B, became involved in famous lawsuits over minority shareholders rights.

Old Bruce Service Track

While the old Northern Railway facilities were soon given up, the Wharf Lead remained in use for many decades.

In the 1950’s the TG&B track north from Parkdale was a CNR service track that served Compressed Metals (a scrap dealer) immediately south of Dundas Street bridge as a Joint Siding, exiting the property to the north as CPR trackage. This track was known as the "Old Bruce" or "S" yard, and served a number of industries including Rowntree (chocolates), Joe Lowe (Popsicle Pete), Glidden Varnish and Viceroy Rubber. It ran across West Toronto Diamond into the MacTier Sub. In later years this seldom-used diamond was eliminated and the service track was extended eastward on a sharp curve across Osler Avenue and connected to the North Toronto Sub. It remained in use until its last customer Laura Secord (formerly Rowntree, originally, Cowan's) ended rail use (sugar from Redpath on the East Wharf). It was dismantled in April 1996. Eventually, the 1.59 mile long right-of-way was sold in July, 2003 to the City of Toronto and eventually West Toronto Railpath was officially opened October 20, 2009.

Old Bruce service track, looking south from Wallace Ave. footbridge.
Tank car sitting in Nacan products (National Adhesives). Note diamond, unusual for sidings, other track
was Solways (scrap dealer). Track at right is West Toronto interchange track. CNR Weston Sub. at
GO Transit Bloor station. Far right CPR Galt Sub. July 1985 Gord Billinghurst

The Narrow Gauge


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