Booklet and pictures courtesy of
Dick Blacher. Comments by Paul Jackson.
Being Some Thinks Thought While On A Little Journey Over The Grand Trunk
by Elbert Hubbard, 1911
This booklet measures 7 1/4" x 5 1/2" with 21 pages.
"The Grand Trunk Railway"
A Little Side Bar History
The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada was
proposed in 1851 as the main trunk line through the United Province of Canada.
It was formally incorporated in 1852 to build a railway from Toronto to
At the time, the GTR desired a rail access to Portland, Maine, a seaport that could be used all year long ( the port of Montreal closed each winter). Accordingly, in 1853, the company amalgamated with the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, acquiring its line between Montreal and the Canada-United States border. It also leased the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad line from the border to Portland. The original track gauge (the distance between the two rails) of this line was 5-foot 6-inches. The GTR adopted this gauge for all their lines but later, in 1873, converted their lines to the "Standard" gauge of four-feet-eight and one half inches.
A bridge over the St. Lawrence River to connect this line to Montreal was required. Construction of the Victoria Bridge began in 1854, and the first train operated over it in 1859.
After its formation, the GTR proceeded immediately with the construction between Montreal and Toronto. This line was opened for traffic in 1856. During this period, other railway construction had been undertaken west of Toronto, towards Guelph and Stratford. This line was extended to Sarnia, in 1859. A ferry service was then established across the St. Clair River to Fort Gratiot (now Port Huron, Michigan). This service was later replaced by the St. Clair Tunne, which was opened for railway traffic in September 1891.
In Quebec, a line had been built from Quebec City to Richmond between 1848 and 1854. Upon its completion, it was taken over by the GTR, and extended to Rivière-du-Loup to connect with the Intercolonial Railway. In 1864, the GTR took over the Champlain & St. Lawrence Railroad. This was Canada's first railway, and had been completed from Laprairie to St. John's, Quebec in 1836, and extended to Rouses Point, New York in 1851.
By 1867, it had become the largest railroad system in the world by accumulating more than 2055 km of track that connected most of the east coast from Portland Maine and the three northern New England states with the Canadian Atlantic provinces with much of Lower and Upper Canada (Quebec and Ontario) west as far as Port Huron Michigan through Sarnia Ontario. By 1880, the Grand Trunk Railway system stretched all the way from the Atlantic Ocean in the east as far west as Chicago, Illinois, and still fell under the corporate structure of a single company.
Several impressive construction feats were associated with the GTR: the first successful bridging of the St. Lawrence River on August 25, 1860 with the opening of the first Victoria Bridge at Montreal (replaced by the present structure in 1898); the bridging of the Niagara river between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffaslo, New York; and the construction of a tunnel beneath the St. Clair river, connecting Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan. The latter work opened in August, 1890 and replaced a ferry at the same location - the GTR system's mainline having been extended west to Chicago by operating as the Grand trunk Western Railroad (Port Huron-Chicago).
By 1880, the Grand Trunk Railway system
stretched from Chicago, Illinois to the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, and to
the Atlantic Ocean at Portland, Maine. By 1923, 125 smaller railway companies
had merged into the GTR.
To compete with the Canadian Pacific Railway in western Canada, the GTR formed a subsidiary company, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1914. This railway experienced heavy financial losses and was largely responsible for the bankruptcy of the GTR in 1919. The Federal Government took over the railway that year, placing it under the management of the Canadian National Railways in 1923.
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