Bob Elliot's Work on the Bytown and Prescott Railway

Major Stuart Robert (Bob) Elliot

Bob Elliot (right) and Duncan duFresne on the Bytown Railway Society's
steam crane at the Museum of Science and Technology in 1969

Major Stuart Robert (Bob) Elliot (1922-2015) enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1942 before later transferring to the Canadian Intelligence Corps. He served in the South East Asia Command in India, Malaya and Java (Indonesia). Obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia in 1948, his professional career subsequently included joining the Defence Research Board from 1949 to 1952 and serving as an intelligence officer in the Canadian Army from 1952 to1972. He retired from the Canadian Forces in 1972 and joined the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies as an Information Officer, where he was responsible for The Military Balance until his retirement in 1987. He researched and wrote the first edition of Scarlet to Green (1981) in support of the Canadian Military Intelligence Association’s History Project.

A lifelong railway enthusiast, Bob Elliot was one of the founding members of Ottawa’s Bytown Railway Society and, in 1970, its second president.  He carried out extensive research into the history of the Bytown and Prescott Railway (later Ottawa and Prescott, then St. Lawrence and Ottawa, finally part of the Canadian Pacific). Out of that research came the two documents described below and available here.


This slim booklet was written to mark the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Bytown and Prescott Railway. In October 1979, it was the first publication of the Bytown Railway Society (BRS) and the first published work on its subject. Long out of print, it is made available here with the permission of the BRS.

The story of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa
First Railway to Canada’s Capital

This is the – largely unedited – manuscript of a proposed longer book on the same railway. With no anniversary to commemorate, the years the railway was called the St. Lawrence and Ottawa (1867-1884) provide most of the content.
In the preface, Elliot explains the genesis of the manuscript as an exploration of the points on which his 1979 account contradicted the claims of earlier writers. The draft appears to have been completed shortly before Omer Lavallée’s death in February 1992. It was not edited for publication at that time but in 1997 an editor, or editors, did some limited work before setting it aside for good. Mr. Elliot apparently never saw the editor’s comments.
The manuscript was preserved by David Knowles and is in the collection of the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library. This is a scan of that document. Only the sequential page numbering has been added to the .pdf version. The manuscript text is complete; unfortunately, all but one of eighteen tables, listed on page three of the manuscript and frequently referenced in the text, are missing. The surviving table, a locomotive roster, is at the end of the manuscript.
Despite the missing tables, the manuscript contains much previously unpublished material, particularly concerning railway operations and the activities of its Prescott workshops, that adds significantly to Eastern Ontario railway history
As is normal for an early draft, the text has numerous flaws that would almost certainly have been caught and corrected before publication: typographical errors, mis-spelled names, and shifted dates. Editor’s comments and questions remain unanswered. Content that has been superseded by later research findings is not updated or flagged.

Bob Elliot died in York, England on 24 January 2015. Here is his obituary which was published in the Ottawa Citizen 28-29-30 January 2015.

Updated 29 December 2020

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