Regulatory Orders Relating to the Railways of the Ottawa Area

When using any of this material please credit Colin J. Churcher

Area Covered

The area covered in this work is bounded by the following locations:

Quebec:  Waltham, Maniwaki, Buckingham, Marelan, Rigaud, Coteau
Ontario:  Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Harrowsmith, Sharbot Lake, Madawaska, Brent.

Aspects Covered.

In the past the federal government has exerted a very tight control over all aspects of the way railways were built and operated.  This varied over time but the following summarizes the general areas that were covered and have been included:

1.      New Lines
      Taking of land
        Use of government lands
          Use of Indian lands
        Open for carriage
2.      Approval of By laws, tariffs and services
3.      Operating rules
4.      Crossings across highways
         Accidents - removal of statutory speed restrictions
          Highway crossing signal systems
          Installation, maintenance, alteration and modification
          Sight lines, standards and maintenance
          Building across canals or navigable waters
          Crossing another railway
          Authority to cross
          Authority to install, modify or remove interlockings
         Pipe and wire crossings (telephone, telegraph, electricity, water, gas, fuels etc)
          Authority to cross
         Standards and maintenance
5.      Fencing

6.      Bridges and Tunnels - new, modified or reconstructed
        Approval of plans
        Authority to use after completion
7.      Industrial and Private Sidings
         Authority to construct or extend
8.      Train Operations and services
9.      Stations and station buildings
        Approval of location of station grounds and buildings
        Authority to alter, reconstruct, move or remove
        Authority to appoint agents, caretakers and to remove staff
10.  Dangerous goods
          Location of Tank Farms, Loading and Unloading Racks
11.  Branch Line Abandonments
12.  Passenger and Freight Services
13.  Any General item that affected the public interest or safety
14.  Specific details such as the requirement to obtain an order in council for all industrial sidings built under the Canadian National Railways Act
15.  Miscellaneous items such as the remission of duty on goods imported temporarily

Form of Regulation

Privy Council Railway Committee (PCRC)

From 1867 there was a Committee of the Privy Council which comprised Cabinet Ministers.  This heard all railway cases and was primarily concerned with new railway location, subsidy and fitness to open for carriage.  Technical support was provided by the Department of Railways and Canals, particularly through the Chief Engineer for Railways.  Decisions of the Committee are shown under PCRC although in many cases these were followed up in the form of an Order of the Governor General in Council.  This was, in effect, a confirmation by the whole Cabinet of a decision made by a Cabinet Committee.  Orders of the Privy Council Railway Committee are dated but not numbered.

Board of Railway Commissioners (BRC)

The Board of Railway Commissioners was formed in 1904 to carry out the detailed decisions and relieve Ministers of the heavy burden this was causing.  Commissioners were political appointees but the Board acted independently of the Department of Railways and Canals and Cabinet, although politics entered into some of the decisions.  The BRC started a number series of orders that are generally in date order.  This is not completely so as a number, particularly in the early period, were evidently backdated for a particular reason.  Orders of the BRC are shown by their number.

Board of Transport Commissioners (BTC)

The Board of Transport Commissioners was formed in 1938 to regulate the air, rail and water modes.  The BRC was merged into the new board and a similar modus operandi was adopted.  Orders of the BTC are similar to those of the BRC and the number series was continued unbroken right up to its demise in 1967.  This represents a remarkably detailed unbroken record of some 124,000 orders from 1904 to 1967. Orders of the BTC are shown by their number. 

Canadian Transport Commission (CTC)

The Canadian Transport Commission was created in 1967 to take over the responsibilities of the Board of Transport Commissioners.  The modus operandi was similar to that of the previous Board but a new number series with a "R" prefix (e.g. R-24019) to denote an order of the Railway Transport Committee of the Commission. Orders of the CTC are shown by their number.

National Transportation Agency (NTA)

The National Transportation Agency was created in January 1988 to take over the function of the Canadian Transport Commission.  Orders then took a separate number series in each year (such as 1988-R-2) and these are identified as such in the listing.  The Railway Safety Act completely changed the approach to safety regulation and this highly detailed record of orders came to an end in January 1989.  The National Transportation Agency and its successor, the Canadian Transportation Agency, continued to have a role in economic regulation in areas such as branch line abandonment.

Orders of the Governor General in Council

The Privy Council continued to exert an influence in railway regulation after 1904 although the detailed work was reduced considerably.  The items tended to cover subjects such as subsidies, leases, navigable waters, and the Canadian National Railways Act.  Orders of the Privy Council are numbered in the sequence in which the case is received at the Privy Council office and the numbers start over at the beginning of each calendar year.  Thus an order of the Privy Council is shown as PC 1911-1116 and these are shown here in this form.  Initially the number was allocated when the case reached the Privy Council office, the date shown is the date it is approved by the Privy Council and signed by the Governor General.  In some cases orders which were presented towards the end of the year are not handled until the next year and were dated for the subsequent year.  In later years, after about 1950, the number was allocated when the order was approved.

This Page Updated August 2013