The Railways of Ottawa

Findings of the Circle


1.13    Canadian Pacific - Ottawa West
The first reference to Ottawa West is on June 1, 1919. In that first timetable, the only through trains showing a time at Ottawa West were new numbers 7 and 8, the Trans-Canada Limited. The last timetable showing Ottawa (Broad Street) and trains operating out of it was issued Nov. 30, 1919. It was replaced by a new timetable on February 1, 1920. (Dennis Peters)

The first station at Ottawa West was presumably constructed to replace Broad street station when Canadian Pacific moved its trains into the Grand Trunk Central Station (subsequently renamed Union station.

The second station at Ottawa West was built in 1930 on a different location.  Board of Railway Commissioners order 44801 of 30 May 1930 approved the relocation and details of proposed Canadian Pacific station at Ottawa West.

Ottawa West
In this aerial view, the second Ottawa West station is shown to the left (north) of the roundhouse. National Archives PA 210630

The third station at Ottawa West was approved on 5 April, 1968 by Canadian Transport Commission order R-1924 which authorized Canadian Pacific to remove the station at Ottawa West at m. 4.9 Ellwood sub. and replace it with a heated shelter at m. 4.84 Ellwood sub.  This didn't last too long and was burnt by vandals in 1968 or 1969.

The fourth station at Ottawa West is the O Train Bayview station which is essentially at the same location.  It was opened on 15 October 2001.

1.13.1  Canada Central - Skeads or Skeads Mills

On September 16, 1870, the first official train of the Canada Central Railway ran from the terminus at Lebreton Flats, through what was to become Westboro, to Carleton Place.  Shortly after the opening of the railroad, the Hon. James Skead, one of the earliest industrialists in the Ottawa Valley, erected one of the largest saw mills in Canada at that time at what is now the foot of Roosevelt Avenue on the shores of the Ottawa River. As an indication of Skead's prominence in the area, it was not long before the name of the locale was changed from the unofficial Birchtown or Baytown to Skead's Mills.   The Canada Central timetable of January 1875 shows a station at Skeads although no details have survived.  It seems that this lasted until at least the late 1890's.
1.13.2 Canadian Pacific - Westboro (first)
The Canadian Pacific Broad Street station closed on January 4, 1920 and all passenger trains were diverted into the Grand Trunk Union Station.  Canadian Pacific needed a station in the west end of Ottawa and a conference was held in April 1920 which was heavily influenced by the city of Ottawa.  It was decided at that time to establish a station at Parkdale Avenue and Canadian Pacific began stopping local trains here on 24 May 1920.  The station was 600 feet west of Parkdale Avenue and at first a cinder platform only was provided. No building was in place at the opening although the railway had plans to build one and appoint an agent.   It was called Westboro even though it was close to the city of Ottawa and not in Westboro village.  The station had a short life and seems to have survived only until the opening of the second Westboro station at Victoria Avenue (later Roosevelt). (see below)

1.13.3  Canadian Pacific - Westboro (second)
The township of Nepean and the village of Westboro were unhappy at the decision to place a station at Parkdale Avenue and appealed the matter to the Board of Railway Commissioners.  The Board sustained the appeal and ordered the building of a station at Victoria Avenue (the reasons for tis decision are set out in Board of Railway Commissioners, Judgments, Orders, Regulations & Rules issued on September 22, 1920.  A number of orders were necessary for the Board to implement its decision and these are set out below.

Westboro was initially a flag station for trains eastwards 556 and 558 from Chalk River, and 562 from Brockville and westwards flagging were 555, 557, 563 and 565.  There was no passing track, just a business track. 

BRC Order 30155 of 28th September 1920 directed C.P.R. “to erect, by 1st Dec 1920, a station building, with passenger, freight, express and telegraph service at or near Victoria Avenue, Westboro.”  There appears to have been some difficulty in implementing this order as BRC order 30304 of 9th November 1920 reads “The time within which the station at Victoria Avenue, Westboro may be erected pursuant to 30155, is extended until 1st July 1921 provided that a temporary station and platform be erected at the point in question, a station agent appointed, passenger, freight, express and telegraph service provided and a spur to take care of carload traffic are constructed on or before 1st December, 1920.”

By 1st May 1921 Westboro acquired a day operator, train order signals and call letters BO (which were later used by Walkley Yard).  (Note: the "call letters" was the telegraphic code used to simplify transmission of messages in Morse code).

Order 30524 of 1st June 1921 approves CPR plans showing the location and details of proposed station at Westboro, m. 2.55 Carleton Place sub.   Order 31164 of 23rd June 1921 grants a time extension for erecting Westboro station until 1st October 1921 and order 31249 of 12th July 1921 authorized a relocation of the Westboro station.

By 28th September 1952 Westboro was a regular stop for 555, 557 and 563, and a flag for 551 (Sunday's 557 to Chalk River).  Eastwards, there was a stop for 556 and 558, flag for 550(Sunday's 556), and a star for 562 which said that 562 will stop at Westboro to detrain passengers from Smiths Falls and beyond. 

BTC order 73902 of 2nd July 1952 authorized the C.P.R.  to remove the station agent at Westboro and appoint a caretaker-agent to sell tickets and keep the station clean and, when necessary, heated and lighted for the accommodation of passengers on the arrival and departure of trains.

BTC order 93278 of 26th December 1957 authorized the removal of  the caretaker-agent while BTC order 95838 of 29th September 1958 authorized the removal of the station and it was demolished in the fall of 1960.

Passenger service at Westboro was discontinued with the elimination of the Chalk River locals which by then were using Dayliners - in the early 1960s. The last passenger train to pass through Westboro was the eastbound THE CANADIAN on Saturday, July 30, 1966, led by  FP9A 1410.

Freight Service through Westboro was provided by the daily Smiths Falls way freight. Local work was performed by a switcher based at Ottawa West that looked after the industries as far as west as Leafloor Brothers Coal Company about 1,000 feet east of Woodroffe Ave.

The C.P.R. Westboro station was located on the north side of the tracks about 50 feet east of the Roosevelt Ave. crossing. A 1arge freight shed was located slightly to the east of the passenger station. There was also a short passing track and an equally short team track. We have not yet been able to determine the exact date that the station was constructed, however, the design was similar to the Ottawa West station.

The last westward through freight train by Westboro was a very late #83, leaving Ottawa West at 0235 August 27th, 1967, power 8733-8588-8599-4072 with 62 cars of ore from Hilton Mines and 8 empties, 5240 tons.  8599 work extra was the last westward train through on August 28th, 1967 and the line was cut at McRae Avenue after its passing.

The last through Eastward freight train was #84.  (It had been train #90 until this timetable change).  Power 8733-8588-8599 arriving at Ottawa West at 0815 August 28th, 1967, with 36 loads, 62 empties, including 41 hoppers for Hilton Mines.


westboro first
From the Bytown Railway Society Carriere collection

westboro two
From the Canada Science and Technology Museum Mattingly collection.  Matt-3792.
This is dated 1952 with the train order signal removed.


1.13.4  Canada Central/Canadian Pacific Britannia Station

The Canada Central line between Ottawa and Carleton Place was opened in September 1870 and the earliest employee timetable we have seen, dated, January 1875, shows a station location at Britannia with two trains booked to stop there in each direction daily.  There was also a wayfreight at this time but this was not booked to stop.  It is likely, therefore, that some form of station or shelter was provided at Britannia by the Canada Central Railway from an early time, possibly as early as the opening of the line.

Canadian Pacific took over the Canada Central railway in June 1881 and by 1885 Britannia was being used for picnic parties and others wishing to get away from the city for a pleasant day on Lake Deschenes.

Newspaper References

The earliest reference to a station at Britannia is from the Ottawa Journal of 25 May 1887.

The railway station is still neglected by the C.P.R. people; no platform - no name - not even a shed to protect from the rain those waiting for the cars.”

14 June 1887.  Ottawa Journal:

“The C.P.R. have just completed a cattle shed for the shipment of livestock from this station, but there is no appearance yet of any improvements for the residents, who have sometimes to wait for the trains.”

On 3 May 1888 the Ottawa Free Press reported:

“There are some 500 people already out at Britannia for the summer.  They are applying to the C.P.R. railway to grant them a local train and also to put up some sort of a shelter at the station.”

20 May 1889.  Ottawa Citizen:

“Britannia entirely outdistances Aylmer in the matter of train accommodation.  The C.P.R. management has shown its liberality by putting on the "special" six weeks earlier than last year, and the train has been well patronized.  What the company wants to do, however, is to erect a decent station house, the increasing popularity of Britannia as a health resort warranting something better than the little cabin which does duty as waiting room, telegraph office, etc.  At the very least a respectable shed ought to be erected to protect passengers from sun or rain while waiting for the train.
A melancholy affair took place a few days ago.  One of the curiosities of Britannia was County Crown Attorney Mosgrove's three legged dog Jumbo.  Jumbo had the audacity to try a round with the Toronto express and was knocked out at the first blow.  The villagers gave him a decent burial, and a little mound opposite the station house with suitable memorial at its head, and the inscription on the fence, "here lies poor Jumbo," should be a warning to bipeds as well as quadrupeds not to fool with the trains.”


8 July 1889.  Ottawa Citizen:

“It is said the C.P.R entend (sic) shortly building an extensive station at Britannia, and the erection of a handsome hotel at Sandy Beach is also spoken of.”

22 August 1893.  Ottawa Citizen:

“The residents of Britannia appreciate the action of the C.P.R. in placing a number of nice seats at the station there.”

13 September 1895. Ottawa Journal:

“The C.P.R. authorities having taken in hand the prosecution of the rowdies who violently assaulted the station agent at Britannia, they will now likely receive their just deserts.”

7 August 1896. Ottawa Journal:

“Three waggon loads of cheese were delivered here yesterday and passed on to Montreal in the afternoon.  The boxes numbered 79, each weighing about 75 pounds, and were from the factory of Mr. Everett on the Bearman Farm.  The shipping of dairy goods from this point is a new feature of the activities of the place and points to the need of improved accommodation at the station for both people and products.”

13 August 1897.  Ottawa Free Press:

“A number of city youths summering at Britannia were charged before County Magistrate Smith this morning with assaulting the station agent on a recent occasion.  It seems the boys were in the station waiting for the 10.33 p.m. train from Ottawa and were ordered out by the agent.  Hot words were followed by blows and the magistrate settled it by fining one defendant and dismissing the charges against the two others.”

23 December 1897.  Ottawa Journal:

“Judge Mosgrove informed a representative of the Journal to-day that on his arrival at the railway station at Britannia this morning, he and a number of other passengers were compelled to wait outside for the arrival of the train, for the station had been occupied during the night by a cow.
“The useful and generally inoffensive animal had not strayed in here of her own accord, but coming down as freight last night, it was alleged, been placed there by the officials of the railway.
“His Honor says the station at Britannia is not a particularly commodious one, but its accommodations are manifold.  It answers the purpose of a waiting room for passengers, a freight shed and a cattle yard.
“The peculiar odor of the place after a bovine has occupied it during the night makes it particularly pleasant as a waiting room.”


19 June 1900.  Ottawa Citizen:

“The C.P.R. station has been overhauled and refitted and is now a very handsome little structure.”

Train Service

Apart from long distance trains between Ottawa and Carleton Place, such as the Brockville local, the railway provided a suburban service between Britannia and Ottawa.  This started in the 1890’s and lasted until ?? when competition from the Ottawa Electric Railway caused its demise.  In this period, people would live in Britannia in the summer months and commute to Ottawa. The service was augmented in the summer in recognition of this.

The Ottawa Electric Railway extension to Britannia was opened in May 1900 and an all year round frequent service of electric cars was provided to and through downtown Ottawa.

By 1912, Britannia had become a flag stop for the Brockville local only.  This lasted until timetable #55 of 1 February 1920 where no trains were shown as stopping here.

Photographic Evidence

Only two photographs have so far come to light showing the Britannia station:
    Museum of Civilization – summer 1896.
    Canadian Pacific (A19642) – in 25 October 1900.

These photographs, both were taken from the east, illustrate a structure with vertical board and batten siding.  Canadian Pacific did not use this type of siding on its stations and it would appear that the original structure was built by the Canada Central Railway.

Conclusions

    A station was built at Britannia by the Canada Central Railway possibly as early as the opening of the line in September 1870.
    The original station likely lasted until competition from the Ottawa Electric Railway in the early 1900’s caused its demise.
    After this time, all that was provided for the occasional passenger was a platform with possibly a small shelter until stops at this station were withdrawn in February 1920.

Updated February 2008

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