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Old Time Trains

Canada Steamship Lines

Canada Steamship Lines No.5 box car used in captive service on Cornwall Street Ry.
CSL dock Cornwall January 1948.

The boxcar pictured is parked beside the Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) facility located on Water Street, at the foot of Pitt Street. The Cornwall Canal was located about 20 feet from the street, to the south (behind the building).

Prior to 1958, CSL operated a daily packet steamer service to and from Montreal, I believe. I don’t know if the service extended westward from Cornwall.

In many cases, customers would pick up their shipments at the CSL building. The rail car was most likely used to deliver goods to various locations in the city and township. Greater Cornwall was an industrial area, well serviced with railroad tracks. Most tracks were run by The Cornwall Street Railway (CSR), and handled passenger street cars and freight cars, sometimes on the same routes. The CSL boxcar would have been shunted by CSR electric engines. Mainline steam engines also could use some of these tracks as the system was connected to The Grand Trunk (Canadian National), Canadian Pacific and the New York Central. Some of the lines to major industries belonged to the railways.

I don’t imagine CSL No. 5 was used outside of the Cornwall area. I have lived in Cornwall since 1944 and do not have any memory of this or any other CSL units. It probably means I just was not that observant.

This photo is definitely in Cornwall, Ontario. The boxcar would line up with the warehouse, and the goods could be easily moved back and forth. I do recall seeing a boxcar sitting beside the warehouse. Car traffic was light in those days and this did not seem to pose a problem.

No 5 was likely the only active rail unit CSL had in Cornwall, despite the number 5. Cornwall had several cotton mills, a paper mill and a rayon mill, and a host of smaller industries. I do not know what would be considered package freight but imagine that if they could handle the material, it would be accepted.

Don Kenney
Cornwall Township Historical Society.


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