A Grand Trunk Railway Artifact Found in Ottawa
With the Ottawa Railway History Circle

Sometimes railroad artifacts show up in the strangest of places and occasionally right under our noses………..literally.

These photographs were taken by Ray Farand in October 2007 and show the Grand Trunk stenciling on the beams protruding from the building.

A number of our members noticed work being carried out on a duplex on Albert Street, at Lorne east of Booth Street.  The veranda supporting members were exposed, they protrude about four feet from the base of the building, and the colour of the paint, which appeared to be station red, plus the stencilling caught our attention.  The word ‘TRUNK’ was on one member while the second indicated dimensional data i.e. ‘34FT’.  Under the ‘34FT’ lettering you can faintly see the word ‘LONDON’.  The word London has been overpainted with Montreal as in "weighed Montreal 3 1906" and the letter C may refer to the weight (i.e. cwt.).

Ray Farand carried out some investigation on the web (The Canadian Encyclopedia) which suggested that these side frames were from a GTR construction flat car probably built in the late 1800s.  Pictures on the web show that some cars were tapered near the end under the dimensional data just like in the balcony support.  The bolt holes also appear to be positioned exactly where brackets are visible in the archival photo.

It turns out that another of our members, Andrew Jeanes, lived on the ground floor of that duplex from 1996-1998.  Andrew indicated that there is even more lettering visible on the beams inside the basement of the building including “Grand Trunk 67492.

Ian Cranstone has provided some information about these cars. The Grand Trunk had a series of 34' long flat cars in the 67000-68899 series.  The 67492 isn't listed in an early CNR document showing built dates of heritage cars, nor does it appear in the 1923 renumbering guide for former GTR and GTP cars.  GT 67474 shows as being built in Feb. 1893 (other cars in the series show dates from 1873 through 1891), and it would seem likely that 67492 was built at about the same time.

We have not found a picture suitable for printing of a Grand Trunk car but this picture of a Quebec and Lake St. John Railway construction train shows similar flatcars.  Notice how the underside of the beam is angled up at each end. Library and Archives Canada PA 208693.

David Jeanes has provided the following information from the City of Ottawa web site:

“Lower Lorne Avenue (between Albert Street and Primrose Avenue) is a homogeneous, well-preserved streetscape, typical of the type of housing built in Ottawa for the working class from 1900 – 1907.  The fire of Thursday, April 26, 1900 destroyed 400 acres of the west end of Ottawa, including all of the buildings on lower Lorne Avenue. Within a short period of time following the fire the residential and industrial buildings in the LeBreton Flats area were rebuilt. The rapid rebuilding that followed the fire resulted in the construction of the architecturally homogeneous streetscape on lower Lorne Avenue. These modest, brick, two-storey row houses were an affordable solution to the problem of finding a housing form that could replace the wood frame buildings that were destroyed by the fire.”

Thus we have an interesting century-old railway relic from our past, right in the centre of town.

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, January 2008.

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