Ottawa Railway History Circle

Finding No. 54    Bytown and Prescott Railway Anecdotes

This article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen of 15 September 1923

Mr. J.E. Dolman, 78 Elm street send the O.T.S. an Ottawa and Prescott Railway time table of 1856 67  years ago. Mr. Dolman is an engineer on the Ottawa-Prescott branch of the C. P. R. and has been running on that road for the past twenty years. His father, John Dolman, was an engineer on the Ottawa-Prescott road for 49 years, being superannuated in 1917. He is now living at Keewatin, Ont., and is still hale and hearty. Mr. Robert Dolman takes a great interest in the history of the Bytown-Prescott road and has considerable literature on the subject. He has pictures of the original wood-burning engines, of which there were five. These were the "Oxford." the "Bytown," the "Ottawa." the "Prescott." and the "St. Lawrenee." Mr. Dolman says the first engine to run on the road was the "Oxford," which was built at Portlamd. Me., and which was brought over from Ogdensburg to Prescott in a scow. The "Bytown" engine was afterwards changed to the "Colonel By." Mr. Dolman has also pictures of the first trains. One of these pictures may later be reproduced in the O. T. S.
Mr. Dolman says that as far as he can learn there are only two men living of the staff who ran the road prior to 1862. These are a Mr. Wardropc, of Brockville, and a Mr. Wilkinson, of Prescott. Mr. Ward-rope was superannuated in 1913. Of those who were on the road when the time-table of 1856 was issued by Benj. French, Jr., the then superintendent, none are alive.

The Clock at Prescott.

The outstanding feature of the 1856 time-table is the statement that the clock in the superintendents office at Prescott was to be taken as the standard time. The order continuing reads:
"Conductors wiil be particular to compare their time with it (the Prescott clock) before leaving. They will also compare time with each other at passing stations: and see that the clocks at other stations and the watches of conductors of construction or wood trains compare .with the standard time."
It would appear from the above that at that period there was no teleegraph service on the line, or that the conductors and not the station agents were the big noises in the matter of time.
According to the time-table the trains moving south from Ottawa left at 7. I5 a.m. and 1.10 p.m. The first was the mail train and the latter the "accommodation." The mail train reached Prescott at 10 a.m. and the accommodation train at 5.10 p.m. Regular stops were made at Gloucester, Osgoode, Kemptville. Spencervllle, and Prescott Junction. The trains reached Ottawa at 11.10 a.m. (accommodation) and 5.15 p.m. Tho Ottawa and Prescott trains crossed a Kemptvllle.

Rules of the Road.

On the second page ot the time table ts printed the rules of the road, which were largely as at the present day. It is evident that those days cattle must have got on to the tracks more than at present as rule 14 reads:
"Enginemen will be extremely careful to guard against the killing ot cattle on tne tracks: a good reason will to required to justify any occurrence of this kind. Whenever animals are seen on or near the track, the speed of the train must be reduced immediately, the necessary signals given, and no risks run."

This article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on 29 November 1924 page 2. It is reproduced verbatim. Part of the page is unfortunately missing
The Duke of Connaught first visited Ottawa as Prince Arthur in 1869, not 1860 as stated.
Anecdotes of Bytown - Prescott Railway;
Secret trip of Whalen;
Employees often given pay in I.O.U. form.

Road Was Often Hard Up, But the Working Staff "Stuck It Out." Little Stories About the Men Who Stood the Hardships of the Early Days. Interesting Incidents of History of Ottawa's First Railroad. A Fast Run. Here is a budget of bright anecdotes and facts about the early days of the Bytown and Prescott Railway and of the men who made it famous.

When the Bytown and Prescott Railway started operations in 1854, Ottawa's progress received an impetus second only to the effect of the selection of the city as the Capital of Canada.
Today the Bytown and Prescott Railway is merely the Prescott-Ottawa branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway and plays only a small part in either the business or travel of the city. The old road is only a sort of a side issue now, but it should be kept in kindly memory by the people of Ottawa for the part it played in the fifties and sixties in putting Ottawa in touch with the outside world.
Mr. J. E. Dolman, C.P.R. conductor and an enthusiastic O.T.S. reader, sends the Old Time Stuff a photograph of the first coal-burning engine used on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa (Bytown-Prescott) Railway and accompanies it with a letter full of interesting stories about the early days which will no doubt be read with great pleasure, not only by railroad men, but by all O.T.S. readers who are interested in the old road. .
Mr. Dolman writes:
First Coal Engine.
The diamond stack engine burning coal (picture enclosed) was one of The early engines on the O. & P. Railway. This engine was built at the Kingston Locomotive Works in the sixties and was a wood burner. But about the year 1873 or 1874 Mr. Reynolds, manager of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway, had the engine made over into a coal burner. The coal burning diamond stack was much smaller than the wood stack and known as the real diamond stack. This engine ran until the road was taken over by the C.P.Ry. and than later on the C.P.Ry.
This engine was the first coal burner at Ottawa and was quite a sight around Sussex street in the early sixties, as everything else burned wood. This engine was the start of the black smoke.

Historic Picture.

St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway #6 Thomas Reynolds. LAC PA 207337
The picture was taken at Kemptville in 1874. Engineer Frank Daniels is in the cab window; Fireman E. Murphy is sitting on tender box: Conductor Wm. Freeman is standing nearest to the engine on the platform. The man in the baggage car door is Jas. Wallace, train baggage man. The engine crew and conductor, later became C.P.R. men. All are dead now. Wallace was pensioned by the C.P.R. about two years ago, being one of the oldest passenger conductors in Canada and well known to the traveling public between Ottawa and Montreal.
Daniels retired in the late '90's. Murphy ran for years on the C.P.R. One brother is still with the C.P.R. and is now general manager of the C.P.R. lines west of Fort William, or Western Lines. John Rosebrook was the trainman, now pensioned by the C.P.R.
Steamboat Express

This pictures was not printed in the Citizen but it is believed to be the one referred to.
Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN #3623266 - Digitally restored by Gordon Kennedy.

The picture of the steamboat express (photo also enclosed by Mr. Dolman) was taken at Kemptville about the year 1879. The engine was a wood burner of the later type and was considered a great engine. It was built at Taunton, Mass., in 1872 and was all covered with brass and beautifully painted and varnished, as all the engines were in those days. This engine was named Lucy Dalton.
The engineer standing between engine and tender is Geo. Wallace, who afterwards ran on the C.P.R. and is now dead.
Fireman Norman Bertrand is in the cab window; conductor, Con. O'Leary. They all become C.P.R. men. Wallace was a brother to Conductor J. Wallace, now pensioned, and one son is conductor on the C.P.R. at Ottawa at the present time. His father was roadmaster on the road coming from the Trunk in the '60's and was pensioned by the C.P.R. in 1900.

Pulled Royal Train.
The coal burning engine, the "Thos. Reynolds." pulled the royal train with the Marquis of Lome and party from Prescott Junction to Sussex street station, Ottawa, on Monday, Dec. 2, 1878. The engineer was Michael Manion.
The engine was painted and varnished for the occasion, the sand box was painted like a checker board and the wheels red.
Manion also pulled the royal train over the road when our former Governor General, the Duke of Connaught, made his first visit to Ottawa in I860. Michael Manion was one of the early engineers at Ottawa. He also pulled the train that carried Whelan over the road when he went up to Toronto for trial for the murder of Thomas D'Arcy McGee in 1868.

Carried Whelan.
The Whelnn trip was a very quiet affair. As they thought they might have some trouble, Manion was notified in the afternoon what time to be ready to start.
He backed his enine across the bridge at King street from the roundhouse, which was then located opposite the nunnery. At night, with-

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(con)nections with the G.T.R. at Prescott Junction. Manion made the run with the Col. By to Prescott Junction in one hour and 30 minutes, stopping at Osgoode for wood and water. He ran passenger trains into Ottawa during the '60s and '70s till the year 1884.
When the Steamboat Express quit running he retired to yard service and was pensioned by the C.P.R. in 1911. He was presented with a silver cup in 1909 for being the oldest engineer in service on the C.P.R.

Hard Winter Work.
These old timers had some queer experiences getting trains over the road in winter, shoveling snow into tanks to make water and pumping up the boiler by hand as they had no injectors. Water was fed by pumps and the cabs on the engines were not protected like the present day engines. In the '60's they had to shovel the road by hand when they stalled between stations.
As to some of the early engineers who were on the road in the '50's and '60's, Matt Kilpatrick was the first engineer (or driver as. they were called then). Chas. Hastings, Wm. Champ, Lyman Loomis, Robert Wardrop, Michael Manion, Fred Lawrence, John Smith, Jas. Bird, John Horn, Jos. Chambers.

First Firemen.
Some of the first firemen who fired the first wood burners were: Michael McFaul, Jas. Rosebrook, Geo. Wilkinson, Jas. Daniels, Jno. Blacklock, John Dolman, Frank Daniels, and Bob Walsh, who afterwards became Major Walsh of the Northwest Mounted Police and was one of the first officers with the force. He established Fort Walsh, in southern Alberta, in the early '70's.
Of the first engineers only one is living, Robert Wardrop, who retired on pension in 1913 after fifty-four years of service. He is now living in Brockvllle and enjoying good health, being one of the oldest passenger engineers in Canada.

Engineers of Seventies.
Some of the engineers who ran on the road during the '70's were: Michael Manion, Lyman Loomis, Robert Wardrop, John Horn, Henry Smith, Bob Powell, Joe Bird, Albert Bowen, Jno. Smith, John Dolman, Thos. O'Neil, Frank Daniels, Geo. and Thos. Brackenbury, Edward Miller, Hiram Loomis, Michael Wyms, Martin O'Neil.
Many of these old engineers remained with the road after the C.P.R. took it over. Daniels retired in 1897: Jno. Dolman is now pensioned by the C.P.R.; Henry Smith is still living and running a wheat farm near Winnipeg, Man. All the rest are dead except Wardrop.

Veterans of Road.
Many of the firemen of the '70's are still living and running on the C.P.R. Some of them are: George Rosebrook, now the oldest passenger engineer on the C.P.R.; Chas. Aris, who was recently pensioned, was a passenger engineer who ran an engine during the construction of the C.P.R.; Geo. Walsh, brother of Major Walsh; Edward Murphy, Geo. Wallace, whose son is a C.P.R. conductor at Ottawa; Jack Wyms, Thos. Whitley, Pete Bertrand, Charlie Rosebrook. Norman Bertrand, Thos. O'Neil, Michael McFaul.

Old Engines.
The names of the old engines were: Ottawa, Oxford, St. Lawrence. The Chaudiere, which was brought out from England, was the first engine with a straight stack in Canada, but was changed on arrival to suit the style at that time. Others were the Lucy Dalton, Thos. Reynolds, Lady Lisgar, Joseph Robinson, Calvin Darne, New Oxford and Countess of Dufferlu. (This is not the Countess of Dufferin now in the park at Winnipeg.) The Bytown was changed to the Col. By. The name plate is now In the Bytown Museum.

Some of the shopmen were: Joseph Kennedy, now living in Ottawa, who retired from the C.P.R. about two years ago and was well known for the fine work he did; Jas. Wardrop, J. Major, Andrew Bucham, R. Welsh and W. Ferguson.
Of the old contductors there were Con O'Leary, Jos. Bertrand, Wm. Freeman, T. O'Neil, M. Mulvihlll, D. Horn. H. Powell, J. McCarthy, John Huntington. Alex. McCulloch, Hank Diamond. All are now dead except McCulloch.

Used Hand Brakes.
The old time brakeman stopped the trains with hand brakes in all kinds of weather. When he had to get out on top of the car on a freight train to put on the old hand brakes it was some job. Some of the brake-men were: John Rosebrook, Jas. Wallace, Robert McKee, all retired on pension. Wallace became one of oldest conductors on the C.P.R.

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used for ballasting in the swamps.

Old Time Carpenters.
Some of the old time carpenters were: Sam Dowsley, who afterwards became foreman. He was pensioned by the C.P.R. and is now dead; Chas. Bray, Ed. and John Pumple. These men were known for the fine work they turned out. Sam Dowsley, Wm. Wallace, D. Mills. Edward Aris was one of the early blacksmiths who was pensioned by the C.P.R. There were also R. Lantier, J. Robinson and A. Lalonde, Arthur Parker was one of the fancy painters, also Wm. Sharp. Parker remained till the C.P.R. time. Peter Allen was stationary engineer in the shop and is now pensioned by the C.P.R.; Harry Ranson, now living and pensioned by the C.P.R., Kingston, dead.

Repaired Own Cars.
The St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway repaired all their own cars and built many of them. Some new box freight cars built in 1868 were 28 ft. x 9 ft. in size. The first sofa car was built at Ogdensburir, N.Y. The journals were 5x2 3-4 inches.
The first snow plow was built in Prescott in 1868, with journals 5x3. The first freight van was built in Ogdensburg in 1854. The plow and van were in existence when the C.P.R. took over the road. The St. L. & O. also built snow fences for use on the line.
Of the old time agents and operators there were: James Manion, who came on the road in March, 1855; John Clancy, who was agent at Kemptville in 1856, and Joseph Dubrule, whose son is now manager of the car and passenger ferry between Prescott and Ogdensburg: Fred Brady, R. Dowsley and T. N. Johnson, who remained till pensioned by the C.P.R.
O. S. Tenny was the train despatcher
Some of the office staff at Sussex street, now living, who were on the road In the '60's and '70's are: Robert K. Claire, retired and living in the city; J. P. McCarty, now in business in Prescott, one of the oldest tobacconists in Canada; J. Taylor and James Fairborn.

First Officials

The old officials and officers were: Robt. Bell, president; J. S. Archibald, vice-president; Thos. Reynolds, manager; J. Calvin Dame, mechanical superintendent.
The early superintendents were: R. Hough, B. J. French. T. S. Detlor, H. Luttrell.
Some of the wood men were: Geo. Smith, Ed. Dixon, J. McCurry, Wm. Machie, Wm. Whalen and Thos. Machie, who cut and piled wood for the engines at 40 cents for cutting and piling a cord of wood.
Neal Carl, John Hons, Wm. Dulbeck and John Wardrop were watchmen. R. Connell, J. Furlong and Jacob Smith kept the engines cleaned.
In the '60's and early '70's the wages received were: Passenger engineers $50 and $55 a month; firemen $30 and $25; carpenters and mechanics 12 to 15c per hour. The pay roll for November, 1870. for the mechanical department and enginemen was $2,107.

Given I.O.U.'S.
The men were partly paid and many I.O.U.'s were issued. In 1864 times were very hard and money was scarce, but most of the old men stayed on the road and stuck it out.

Year of Big Snow.
In the early '60's and '70's they had a time to keep the road open on account of heavy storms. In the year 1869 the road was badly tied up. In February, 1869, the weather was very cold and it snowed from February 14th to the 27th every day, A train left Prescott on Wednesday, the 24th, and arrived in Ottawa on Friday. A train also left Prescott on Saturday morning and got to Ottawa Tuesday night, March 2, 1869. A train left Ottawa February 23 and arrived in Prescott on March 3rd. On March 4th two trains got buried at Gloucester. On March 10, 1869, another heavy storm completely tied up the road again.

Freight Trains Shipped.
 In the early days freight cars coming to Ottawa from the G.T.R. had to be transhipped on account of the Grand Trunk being broad gauge and the Ottawa and Prescott standard gauge. The St. L. & O. built a change gauge car pit at Prescott Junction so the wheels could be moved on the axle to standard gauge. People could then get a car of foreign freight through to Ottawa without transhipping. In 1879 there was a shortage of coaches. During the exhibition they used flat cars with a railing nailed around and cedar boughs and cross seats of boards. Passengers sat in the open and caught the fine wood sparks from the wood burning engine. They let the people off at a small station called Exhibition Landing, just north of where Bank street now crosses the C.P.R. Sussex street branch.

Passengers Got Out.
In the early days an immigrant train stalled on Manotick hill. The rail was bad and the little engine couldn't pull the train, so the passengers all walked up, letting the engine pull the empty ears up the hill. In the early days the coaches were heated with box stoves and cordwood. In the middle '70s a passenger train got snowed in north of Spencervllle and the coaches and engines were nearly out of wood. The passengers were starving and cold when assistance came.
Calvin Dame; the mechanical superintendent, died at Prescott, March 28, 1885.
Thomas Reynolds, the manager of the road, died in London. Eng. June 29, 1880, and in 1882 the road passed over to the C.P.R. In 1882 the C.P.R. received a shipment of Scotch engines from the Dub [sic] Works, Glasgow. They were set up in the C.P.R. shops at Prescott by the St. L. & O,.Ry. to work on construction of the C.P.R.
Some of the St. L. & O. Ry. enginemen went with these engines on the C.P.R. One of them, George Rosebrook, is now about, if not the oldest passenger engineer on the C.P.R.


This Page Updated 13 October 2020