Locomotives Named Ottawa
By Colin Churcher from research notes prepared by David Knowles of the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library
There is a long‑standing world‑wide tradition on railways of "naming" their locomotives. The tradition was particularly strong in the very early days of the railways, and locomotives often carried names before they carried numbers. Gradually, however, as locomotive rosters expanded the practice declined, although it never entirely disappeared. Few of the larger railways outside of the United Kingdom retained the practice although some named small classes, often of high profile locomotives used on first class "named" passenger trains. Some smaller roads did follow the practice for a long time.
The names chosen varied considerably. A class of locomotives often carried similar or linked names. Names linked to speed or power were common on many railways, as were the names of the railway's officers or their wives. Also common were the towns, cities and geographical features along a railway's routes, and the names of destinations that the railways hoped to reach one day. The use of town and city names were to commemorate the important communities of the line and to attract publicity and support. It was an attractive tradition and it may actually have helped to build support for the individual railways and their services.1. The first locomotive to carry the name "Ottawa" was built by Hinkley (of Boston) for the Bytown and Prescott.  It was in service in July of 1854, and apparently carried the name before the line had reached Bytown, and before the town was renamed Ottawa. The locomotive was last reported "in service" in March 1880. It was intended for freight service. (The line also had a passenger locomotive #4 called "Bytown" one of whose nameplates is held by the Ottawa Historical Society. Another nameplate from the B&P (the “St Lawrence”) is held by the
(Source: Unpublished manuscript by S.R. Elliot)
“Locomotive “Ottawa” at Sussex Street Station, Ottawa in August 1861. Robert Graham is the engineer. This is the earliest known railway photograph of the Ottawa area.”2. In 1854 the Kinmond Brothers of Montreal built a locomotive for the Montreal and Bytown Railway which was to connect the two cities. However, considerable difficulties resulted in the locomotive being operated on the only section of the line to be built, the portage line between Carillion and Grenville on the north shore of the Ottawa River. The locomotive was badly damaged when the Carillion engine house burned down in 1895. It was not repaired and was broken up a few years later. The name was apparently painted in the panel under the cab window.
(Source: Brown, The Last Broad Gauge.)
3. The second "Ottawa" of the Carillion and Grenville had originally been named "Carillion" but was renamed after the first "Ottawa" was "retired" in 1895. This locomotive was originally built as a 2‑2‑2 by the "Canada Works" of the Peto, Brassey, Bates and Jackson Company in
(Sources: Railroad History #147, picture reference p.32; Brown, The Last Broad Gauge.)
4. The "Ottawa" of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway migrated to the Canadian Pacific Railway on the purchase of the QMO&O and appeared on the CPR roster in June 1882. It became CPR #244. In July of 1905 it moved to the New Brunswick Southern Railway where it became #6. It is not known if it carried the "Ottawa" name in CPR service.
(Sources: Hilton, American Narrow Gauge Railroads p.36; Railroad History #83; Lavallee, CPR Locomotives)
5. Another Ottawa based railway the Canada Atlantic also had a locomotive named "Ottawa". This was originally built for the Vermont Central Railroad where it carried road number 28 and was named "Sarelle" and later "Granby". It was acquired by the Canada Atlantic in 1881, at which point it probably acquired its Ottawa name. It was scrapped in 1889.
(Sources: Railroad History #147, p.96)
6. The final locomotive named "Ottawa" was #3399 of the "Bulldog" class of the Great Western Railway of the United Kingdom. It was a 4‑4‑0 with 68" drivers and 18"x26" cylinders. It was one of 156 locomotives in its class which were built between 1899 and 1910. The names assigned to the class covered a wide range of subjects but there was a block from #3391 to "3409 that were drawn from empire countries and cities; #3391 was Dominion of Canada; #3397 Toronto; #3398, Montreal; #3399, Ottawa; #3400, Winnipeg; & #3401, Vancouver. Originally numbered 3461 when built in February 1904, "Ottawa" was withdrawn from service in October 1947. "Ottawa" was an elegant 4‑4‑0 with clean boiler lines, a Belpaire firebox, inside cylinders, a short cab with no side windows and a curved "Ottawa" nameplate over the leading driver.
Bulldog class 4-4-0 No. 3399 Ottawa on the 2.38 pm Reading to Swindon stopping train coming into Tilehurst on 31 March 1926. From “Truly the Great Western” by Maurice Earley.
One of the “Ottawa” nameplates was presented to the City of Ottawa. It was subsequently rescued from a dumpster and saved and its current location is unknown. See note below
One of the members of the Quainton Railway Society located in Buckinghamshire, England has stored an “Ottawa” nameplate since purchasing it from Swindon soon after the locomotive was broken up. It was purchased for 17 shillings and sixpence. It was sent via goods wagon from Swindon to Amersham and was transported home on his bicycle. The nameplate has subsequently been restored to its former condition for display in the museum. It was claimed that there are three “Ottawa” nameplates in existence in the United Kingdom, one of which is a replica.
The restored OTTAWA nameplate
is now on display at the Quainton Railway Society near Londo ,
UK. Further details of the QRS can be found on their web site at www.bucksrailcentre.org
Sources: Casserly & Johnston, Locomotives at the Groupings ‑ Great Western, emails with Quainton Railway Society.
the Ottawa and Prescott in 1855 and then the St. Lawrence
and Ottawa in 1867. It was acquired by the Canadian
Pacific Railway in 1884.
A few short sections of the roadbed remain in
use. A major part is now the route of the O-Train transit line.
Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, March 2010.
In December 2016 Malcolm Peakman wrote:
Turning to the C&G loco Ottawa, the story that it was a 2-2-2 rebuilt to 2-4-0 then 4-4-0 isn't supported by the GTR records, only the first eight were built as 2-2-2 - quickly rebuilt to 4-2-2, 7 later rebuilt as 4-4-0, the balance were built as 2-4-0 later rebuilt to 4-4-0. Only 7 went through a triple transformaton. The C&G loco "Ottawa" was bui8lt in May 1856 (possibly date on rails) as a 2-4-0, GT number 70. - Canada Works serial number 34. The sale date isn't recorded but it was before the 1874 renumbering.
Don McQueen stated that the GT records were transcribed by Ray Corley.
The GWR nameplate "Ottawa" was sold at auction in May 2010
The description of the plate, which sold for GBP1,000 is:
The GWR 4-4-0 'Bulldog' class locomotive number 3461, built Swindon in February 1904 was withdrawn in October 1947 and at this time, J.B. Thorn, the European Manager of Canadian National Railways, having read about the withdrawal in the GWR magazine suggested to the GWR that it might be treasured for Canada to have a keepsake. Viscount Portal agreed and he instructed Swindon Works to mount Ottawa on a suitable plinth along with an engraved plaque for presentation purposes. Shipped to Canada on board the White Star Liner SS Asia and subsequently accepted by the Mayor of Ottawa in November 1948. The plate was eventually deemed 'unwanted' and given away, the recipient only wanting the walnut mounting board! The plate and presentation plaque were repateriated and now are available. The plate has no splasher and has rear, threaded bolts brazed in place for fitting to the walnut presentation board. The plaque also has brazed bolts on rear, interestingly, still retaining the original GWR nuts.