The Bridge over Greens Creek

Photo by Colin J. Churcher.

VIA F40-PH-2 no. 6428 is seen on 19 November 2006 crossing the stone arch bridge over Greens Creek on the M&O wye in Ottawa.  It is heading back to Ottawa station having turned its train preparatory to returning to Toronto. The site was visited by members of the Ottawa Railway History Circle who came up with the following details.

This was originally part of the Canadian Pacific Railway M&O (Montreal and Ottawa) short line, via Rigaud, which was built in 1897-8 and opened to traffic on 5 September 1898.

Grading on this main line was almost completed by October 1897 but there was still some work to be done on the bridges.  To cross Greens Creek, the windings of which are serpentine where the track crosses, three bridges had to be built, but the masonry was not heavy.  However, there were several fires in the swamps and brush wood of that vicinity, and the smoke was a great annoyance to those working on the line.  It was made worse by a severe drought which was not anticipated so late in the year.  Then, in mid-October 1897, there was a downpour and the bridge was almost broken.  A freshet caused the creek to rise and it carried down a large elm tree.  The tree struck a pier and knocked away all the framework except for one support. This framework was supporting the bridge.  Fortunately the single support held and the engineers were quickly able to replace the framework.  The workmen who were on the bridge at the time had to take to the rafts and had all the supports broken the structure would have fallen causing considerable damage besides delaying the work at this point for some time.

On 14 December 1897 the Ottawa Citizen reported:

“Yesterday, the last stone was laid on the most important piece of work on the construction of the new C.P.R. line to Ottawa.  It was on the large stone bridge across Green's Creek which was built by Messrs. Brewder and MacNaughton.  The bridge is built wholly of stone and in a most substantial manner.  There are three arches, a centre one, thirty feet in length and a fourteen foot one at each end.  The same firm constructed two other stone bridges on the line and have been highly congratulated by every person who has seen them on the splendid character of the work.”

The line was inspected by the CPR General Manager, Mr. Tait, on 19 May 1898.  The Ottawa Journal reported:

“At 2.05 p.m. Mr. Tait gave the word to start and the order was "The best speed consistent with safety".  At Green's Creek - five miles out - the new stone bridge was inspected.  It is a three arch structure and nicely finished.  The first station reached was Blackburn, a flag station, but no stop was made.  The country is a lovely one, and the recent rains had brought the foliage and grass in all their fresh and verdant beauty.”

This bridge (at mile 83.2 from Vaudreuil) is 77 feet long, with the two outer arches being 14 feet diameter and the centre arch being 30 feet diameter.  The second arch (at mile 82.7 from Vaudreuil), on the tail track, is 24 feet long with 12 foot diameter.

The line continued as a main line after the opening of the present Ottawa station on 31 July1966, just before which time the wye connection was opened with the Canadian National Alexandria subdivision.  The reduction of passenger services in the 1980s saw the abandonment of the M&O subdivision between here and Rigaud on 9 August, 1986, although this section was retained together with a short portion of the former main line as a tail track which ends near a smaller one-arch bridge (the second of the three over Greens Creek).  The wye is now used by VIA to turn passenger trains while the Ottawa Central Railway used it, until it was embargoed recently, to gain access to the siding into Ritchies Feed and Seed, a local feed mill and garden centre.


Ottawa Journal 23 October 1897.
Ottawa Journal 13 December 1897.

Ottawa Citizen 14 December 1897.

Journal 20 May 1898.
Canadian Pacific Railway Condensed Plan and Profile 24 June 1911 revised to 1 January 1917 (from Dennis Peters).

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, March 2009 2008.

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