John Speller's Web Pages Grand Trunk Railway

John Speller's Web Pages

Grand Trunk Railway Untitled
The Grand Trunk Railway ran from Sarnia, Ontario, via Toronto and Montreal to Portland Maine. Radiating from this were numerous other lines to Quebec City, etc. and in 1882 the Grand Trunk absorbed the Great Western Railway of Canada, which ran to London and Windsor, Ontario. The company, which eventually became Canada’s most extensive railway, was incorporated on 10 November 1852, as the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada to build a railway line between Montreal and Toronto. Additional powers were obtained shortly after to extend the line west to Sarnia and east to Portland. The line was built to the Canadian Provincial broad gauge of 5 ft. 6 in., which was also the standard gauge in Maine at the time, but all the lines had been converted to 4 ft. 8˝ in. by 1873. The Sarnia to Toronto section opened in July 1856, and the Toronto to Montreal section followed a mere three months later. The section between Montreal and Portland was effected by the purchase in 1853 of two preexisting railways – the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway from Montreal to the border with Vermont border, and its parent company, the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad through to the harbor facilities at Portland.

At Sarnia the Grand Trunk Railway connected with its American counterpart the Grand Trunk Western line from Port Huron, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois. A ferry service across the river between Sarnia and Port Huron began in 1859, and a tunnel under the river was opened in 1891.

In the early twentieth century the Grand Trunk was more or less forced by the Government to undertake a costly scheme to built a third transcontinental line to the Pacific, and this coupled with the untimely death of the company’s very effective President Charles Melville Hays (1856-1912) on The Titanic led to financial disaster and bankruptcy. The company went into administration in 1920 and was merged by the Government into the state-owned Canadian National Railway.
Map of the Grand Trunk Railway lines in Canada and Maine in 1885. To enlarge click here
Grand Trunk Railway broad gauge wood-burning 4-4-0 No. 209, "Trevithick," built in the Grand Trunk Railway shops in 1858. The photograph was taken in 1859 in Montreal by William Notman (1826-1891)
The Grand Trunk Railway's Montreal-Toronto-Chicago "International Limited" just outside Montreal behind 4-4-2 Locomotive No. 225 in 1917
Charles Melville Hays (1856-1912), President of the Grant Trunk Railway. This photograph was also taken by William Notman (1826-1891)
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