John Speller's Web Pages Great Western Railway of Canada

John Speller's Web Pages

Great Western Railway of Canada Untitled
The Great Western Railway of Canada, linking the Niagara and Detroit Rivers with the railroads of the USA, comprised 852 miles of "Provincial" 5' 6" gauge track between Niagara Falls and Toronto, including connecting lines to London, Windsor and the Bruce Peninsula. The main line opened for traffic in 1853. Mixed gauge was laid on the Niagara Falls to Windsor section in 1864, and in 1872 conversion of the entire system to the 4' 8" gauge was completed.

The GWR's chief projector was Samuel Zimmerman (1815-1857). Zimmerman was said to have been the richest man in Canada, but his career was cut tragically short when he was one of the 49 fatalities when a GWR train fell into the Desjardins Canal due to a broken axle on 15 March 1857. The railway was largely British-owned and had separate boards in London, England and Hamilton, Ontario. For some years Sir Edward Watkin was the Chairman of the London board. Seymour Clarke (1814-1876), formerly an apprentice of Brunel, Superintendent of the London Division of the GWR, and later General Manager of the Great Northern, and Chairman of the Cheltenham & Banbury Railway was for a time the Deputy Chairman.

The railway's headquarters and locomotive works were situated in Hamilton, Ontario. The Locomotive Superintendent 1853-66, Richard Eaton (1814-1878), later Locomotive Superintendent of the Grand Trunk Railway 1866-73, was noteworthy for having produced the first locomotives in Canada with steel boilers, and also one of the first to produce a locomotive which could burn coal successfully. The GWR also in 1867 built the first "Hotel Car," usable as a parlor car by day and as a sleeper by night. The Great Western Railway of Canada was purchased in August 1882 by the Grand Trunk Railway.
Broad gauge 0-6-0 No. 90 "Scotia," designed by Richard Eaton and built at the GWR's Hamilton Works in 1861 was noteworthy for being the first locomotive in Canada built with an all-steel boiler. To enlarge, right click and select "view image"
Richard Eaton broad gauge 4-4-0 locomotive, modified as a woodburner during the fuel crisis of the American Civil War era, when coal was difficult to obtain. Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress
Great Western Railway woodburner 4-4-0 "Essex" at Clifton, Ontario, in around 1870
Samuel Zimmerman (1813-1857)
Site Contents Untitled