The Railways of Ottawa
Findings of the Circle

Finding No. 27
Quebec, Montreal Ottawa & Ooccidental Railway History from Montreal Directories.

By David Jeanes

Montreal City Directories are now available in a browsable form at the Bibliotheque nationale of Quebec.

In combination with other sources, they give an interesting perspective on the Quebec Montreal Ottawa and Occidental Railway, and its engineers and architect.

It first appeared as the Montreal Northern Colonization Railway in 1874 with Charles Legge as its Chief Engineer and Hugh Allan as President. Legge was a very experienced railway engineer who had apprenticed in the Department of Public Works under Samuel Keefer. Legge had been responsible for surveying the Grand Trunk from Kingston to Brockville and building the Cornwall section and the south half of the Victoria Bridge.

Legge had been a founding director and chief engineer of the MNCR since 1869 and had surveyed the line to Ottawa by 1871 and to Georgian Bay by 1874. In 1875, the year that  a private act of Parliament changed the name, it appeared as the Montreal Ottawa and Western Railway Company, with Legge as chief engineer and Edgar Berryman as chief draughtsman. Berryman was architect to the Canada Southern at St. Thomas and must have been hired by Legge.

In 1876, 1877, and 1878 Legge continued to appear as chief engineer of the MO&W, but his main work at the same address was as a civil engineer and patent solicitor, a business he had founded in 1864. Around 1874-76 he was chief engineer for the Montreal Northern Colonization Railway’s abortive Royal Albert Bridge project, (on the site of the later Jacques Cartier or Harbour bridge).

In 1876 and 1877 Edgar Berryman had established an office as an architect in the vicinity. In 1876 Legge and Berryman were both named by William Notman on a Notman photograph of a drawing of a magnificent proposed “Terminal Station” for Montreal. It followed the design of the first Grand Central Terminal in New York and the Michigan Southern station in Chicago. Though not built, it clearly inspired both Halifax Intercolonial and Montreal Bonaventure Stations.

Since Halifax station was designed and built at this time (1875-77), it is possible that Berryman was involved. Charles John Brydges, general superintendent of government railways (1874-79), who was in charge of building the Intercolonial, had his Montreal office a few doors away from Berryman’s and Legge’s. Brydges was managing director of the Grand Trunk (1862-74), while many stations were built including Toronto Union, and of the Great Western (1852-62).

The Quebec Montreal Ottawa & Occidental Railway first appeared in the 1877 directory with an office for the assistant secretary of the railway. Walter Shanly, who was consulting engineer to the QMO&O in 1877 and 1878, was boarding at St. Lawrence Hall a few doors down the street. The first 35 miles of the line from Montreal to St. Jerome, had opened under the QMO&O name on 9 October 1876.

In 1877 Berryman supervised the construction of the QMO&O stations that he had designed, from Hochelaga to Aylmer. P.A. Peterson was engineer in charge of construction of the railway, (as opposed to the stations). Walter Shanly was consulting on matters such as the station location in Ottawa. The architect of the 1881 Ottawa QMO&O/Canada Central Union Station is not known.

In 1878 the QMO&O and MO&W occupied the same offices, with different staff for each organization. P.A. Peterson was chief government engineer of the western section of the QMO&O, though Legge still called himself chief engineer of the MO&W. Legge’s biography implies that he had mental breakdowns in 1872 and 1875 and that the MO&W no longer existed after 1875. However, the MO&W was not actually sold to the QMO&O until 1882, (by private statute).

In 1878 the QMO&O also established a ticket and freight office in Montreal, shared in 1879 with the offices of Duncan MacDonald, contractor of the QMO&O. The general office was still shared with the MO&W. In 1878 Horace Beemer was living in the same hotel as Shanly, at the time that Beemer contracted to build the stonework and approaches for the Prince of Wales Bridge (1879-1880).

In 1879 Charles Legge and the MO&W were gone from Montreal and P.A. Peterson was  now chief engineer of the QMO&O.  Legge would die two years later in Toronto. Walter Shanly had become consulting engineer to the Canada Atlantic Railway, which would be a competitor to the QMO&O.

Edgar Berryman was not in the directory in 1878, 1879 and 1880, (he had a child born in Ontario in 1878), but reappeared as a staff architect and civil engineer at Grand Trunk HQ in Montreal in 1881, where he worked for the next six years while Bonaventure Station was designed and built (1884-88). He subsequently went to the Montreal and Sorel  Railway, as engineer and secretary for two years, (1887-88), and the Quebec Central Railway in Sherbrooke as chief engineer, (1889-90). Sherbrooke Union Station was built in 1890.

>From the style of the stations, it appears that Berryman was also architect to Horace Beemer’s Montreal and Western Railway built from St. Jerome to Labelle with stations opened from 1891 to 1893. He also appears to have designed the very similar stations of the Ottawa and Gatineau Railway, built by Beemer in 1892 and 1893. Unfortunately Berryman is not in the directory in these years.

I had speculated that Berryman worked for Walter Shanly, but the indications from this research are that his employers were Charles Legge, Charles John Brydges, the Grand Trunk, and Horace Beemer. It is possible that he worked for Shanly on the stations for the Canada Atlantic (1880-81) and perhaps later for Shanly’s assistants Morley Donaldson and George Mountain on large stations for the OA&PS at Valleyfield, Coteau and Rose Point (1892-3), and perhaps others.

So Charles Legge was associated with the railway which became the QMO&O for a much longer period than I had through (1869-78), in association with Berryman (1874-77). This period saw very elaborate plans for the railway in Montreal, including a grander station than would be seen anywhere in Canada until the 20th Century and a major new bridge across the St. Lawrence.

In fact the first 35 miles of the QMO&O in 1876 was announced as the first link in the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose offices in Montreal appeared with Hugh Allan as president in the 1873 directory, with a board of directors that included Sandford Fleming, F.W Cumberland (of Toronto), and the ubiquitous Walter Shanly

David Jeanes

Updated 12 February 2006

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