I recently received a copy of the above photo from Graham Neale who asked me where Rideau Junction was located.  It is a wonderful study of a small, new building showing an operator with a bow tie and black arm covers and another man, possibly a switch tender, in a hat standing on a small platform with a switchstand.  A velocipede, similar to that owned by the Bytown Railway Society, is on the platform and is probably the telegrapher's means of travel to work.  This seemed like a good project for the Ottawa Railway History Circle and this is what we have found.

Dennis Peters’ data base of stations revealed two Rideau Junctions at varous times in Ottawa:

     On the Canada Atlantic Railway, Rideau Junction was just west of the Rideau River where the main line from Coteau divided with one line branching towards the Rideau Canal crossing and the former Elgin Street station and one line running through Deep Cut and alongside the Rideau Canal to Central Depot close to Sappers Bridge.  The first station by the canal was opened on 23 December 1895 and this Rideau Junction was placed into service at this time.

    On the Canadian Northern Railway, Rideau Junction was located where the line towards Pembroke branched from the line to Smiths Falls. It is just west of the overpass over Prince of Wales Drive and is still in use today, although it is now known as “Federal”.  The Pembroke line was opened on 15 October 1915 and this Rideau Junction would have come into operation at this time.

So which Rideau Junction does this picture illustrate?  We have come to the conclusion that this is the earlier, Canada Atlantic, structure for the following reasons:

    At the bottom left corner of the picture can be seen a guide rail which would possibly have been used with a stub type switch.  Stub switches were common in the mid 1890s but would not have been used on the Canadian Northern main line in 1915.

    The train order board with its flat signal, with rounded end blade with white circles on a square mast, was of a style that was used by the Canada Atlantic (one of a similar style existed at Elgin Street) but not on the Canadian Northern.

     The “RIDEAU JUNCTION” station name board and the switch stand, with its elaborate bracket holding the switch lamp have a Canada Atlantic “feel” about them.

     The building structure and roofline is quite similar to the Deep Cut signal cabin and the Main Street crossing guard's cabin, possibly both erected about the same time, although the signals were not installed at Deep Cut until the end of May 1899. The carpentry work appears to be of high quality, which suggests that George Tomlinson, who was the Canada Atlantic's station builder at this date, and whose builder's yard and planing mill were first near Main Street and later on Isabella, did the work.

    The Canadian Northern Rideau Junction was built on a fill which is not apparent in this picture.

     Thomas Byfield, identified photographer, last appeared in the Ottawa City directory in 1897-98 at 115 O'Connor Street. The following year, he was gone, leaving his wife Albina, a millinery owner, at the same address in the 1898-99 and 1899 directories. So if he had died, this would set early 1898 as the last year the photo could have been taken, and because of the leaves on the trees, probably this means 1897.

The newness of the structure would suggest that the photograph was taken in the summer of 1895, before the line to the new Central Depot was opened.

This plan shows the general area in which Rideau Junction was located, taken from a Grand Trunk Railway plan dated 1913.

The Grand Trunk 18 June 1905 timetable shows Rideau Junction at 1.5 miles from Central Depot (call letters CD), and only 3 minutes on the timetable from CD, with a day and night operator and call sign JU.  At the CAR board meeting of 24 October 1911, (the CAR was still in existence although it was controlled by the GTR until it was absorbed in 1914) $183.80 was approved for a new operators shelter at Rideau Junction (at the west end of the Rideau River Bridge).  On the plans, this is shown on the north side of the line whereas the original building was on the south side.  So the building in this picture likely was replaced in 1912.

Further changes took place in 1914 when a connection was laid between the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk at Hurdman to allow Canadian Northern passenger trains access to Central Station.  Riverside Tower, which replaced Rideau Junction, was located to the west of the Rideau River and it controlled:

         both ends of the CNOR GTR interchange tracks;
        the switches to the double track and Ottawa Gas.

Rideau Junction is shown in the GTR employee timetable of May 3, 1914 but the June 25, 1916 timetable shows Riverside and Rideau Junction had been reduced to a switch location.

This interesting picture has provoked much discussion among the members of our group.  Now, if only we could come across a picture of the other Rideau Junction.

This is a picture of a Canada Atlantic locomotive and car posed on the Rideau River bridge in October 1893, about two years before Rideau junction was built.  The train is facing west and the locomotive would very shortly be passing the later location of Rideau Junction described above.

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, September 2007.

Follow Up Letter from Robert Sandusky

Rideau Junction: I commend Colin Churcher for the article on Rideau Junction in the September Branchline. Sleuthing old photos is always great sport! Especially when teasing bits of reference material are available.

I was intrigued by the small piece of trackwork visible in the scene. The placement of a guard rail so close to the switch stand challenged my memory of any conventional switch I've ever seen. Unfortunately the original photo guards its secret well. Or does it?

The curved, movable rails of stub switches did not have the encumbrance of extra guard rails to impede their flexibility. In addition, what shows in the photo does not appear to have any moving parts or slide plates. Thus I thought we might be catching a glimpse of part of another switch or else an early experimental switch design.

The former possibility might occur at the entrance to a yard where a ladder track begins. There, the frog and guard rails of one switch could be right up against the points of the next. However, Colin has indicated that this is a junction rather than a yard so I have discounted that possibility.

Alternatively, some early switch experiments might suggest possibilities. The MacPherson switch was used by the CPR in the 1 890's but the specification for that design place the far end of the guard rail only 3'-6"from the throw rod of the switch stand. The photograph appears to show a distance of greater than 6 feet which may not be properly placed for such a device. Refer to the diagram where "A" shows the position of the building.

Then there is the Wharton Safety switch but its guard rail only runs even with the 'points' rather than past them and I don't know if it was even used in Canada.

Being a junction, perhaps a level crossing with a single slip switch might qualify. Refer to the single slip switch diagram, again showing "A" for the building site. Then again, this might be too elaborate for a simple junction.

This brings me to the possibility of a derail. One might well expect to see such a device at a junction. The accompanying diagram suggests an uncomplicated design which I submit as a possibility. One hopes that some future photo find of the C.A.R. might cast further light on this small mystery.

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, November 2007.

RIDEAU JUNCTION: In the November 2007 Branchline a Letter to the Editor was printed as a follow-up to Colin Churcher's article in the September 2007 edition. The letter related to the nature of the mysterious switch at Rideau Junction and in the end the matter seemed to be left to further speculation.
I may finally have found the answer as I paged through a recently-acquired copy of "Canadian Pacific to the East - The International of Maine Division". Page 51 has a 1901 Heckman photo (reproduced below) of the siding at Elliott, Maine, which has an early form of stub switch that seems to fit what little we could see at Rideau Junction. I believe one can even see that final spacer bolt on the guard rail in the Rideau Juhnction view. It seems a good match to me. [Robert Sandusky, Oakville, ON]

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, April 2009.

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