The Railways of Ottawa

Findings of the Circle

CTC Panels in Ottawa
The original CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) signal system in the Ottawa area came into use on 9 June 1955.  It was located in the Union station.

This shows the inauguration of the CTC panel in Ottawa.  The picture also  shows Austin Cross of the Citizen and Silas Wass who designed
Walkley Yard and who gave his name to the Junction of the Walkley Line
and the Beachburg subdivision.

From David Jeanes December 2019
I knew that the man with his hand on the panel was Sy Wass, but I had a hunch about the young man on the left.

Sure enough, it is Roger Spack, who had joined CN as a signal engineer a couple of years before, after first working on the TH&B after university.

Roger and I just had a long talk about the picture. He remembers it very well, but not the names of the other people, except Sy Wass, civil engineer for the Railway Relocation project, and George Dunn, beside Roger with the glasses, who was the Ottawa Division Superintendent.

This installation took over the manual interlocking of the NYC with the Alexandria Sub at Hawthorne, but it was then discontinued by a board order after the NYC abandonment two years later in 1957.

David Jeanes prepared the above annotation of the 1955 CTC panel. This covered only CN trackage (about 28 miles) but not the Riverside to Union Station section. Walkley Yard was also outside CTC and there was no bypass track then.

The white arrows pass through the various switches for each of the 15 controlled elements among the 7 named locations on the diagram.

From the Ottawa Citizen Friday 10 June 1955 (picture, caption and article)

The slick streamliner Super Continental of the Canadian National Railway was brought into Ottawa by push button yesterday.  A joint project by the Federal District Commission and the Canadian National Railways has resulted in a million dollar installation down at the Union Station.  Here some 28 miles of railway track in the Ottawa terminals are now all controlled from this panel.  here's No. 2 coming in from Bells Corners while everybody tries to help.  Standing: left, Austin Cross, Citizen, G.T. Dunn, CNR superintendent, Alan K. Hay, general manager, FDC; and silas Wass, railway consulting engineer for the FDC.  Seated is operator J.R. Sine.

Push-Button Railroading In Ottawa
It's fun to play God to trains. Down at the station an alphabetical combination called CTC and worked with lights has the power to stop the Super Continental Limited, it can tie the Ottawa terminals in knots, it can control 400 people miles away, it can make two mile long freight trains meet effortlessly in a 40 below blizzard.
Centralized traffic control has come to Ottawa. Under the joint auspices of the Federal District Commission, which paid the shot, and the Canadian National Railway when [sic] operates the CTC board, a brand new train control for the Ottawa area is now a realization.
Now In Effect
It went into effect on Thursday afternoon in a small room at the Union Station, while Alan K. Hay. general manager of the FDC looked on with G. T. Dunn, superintendent of the Canadian National. Looking on knowingly also was Silas Wass, railway consulting engineer, FDC. J.R. Sine was the operator. He kept chattering with his key in morse to parties along the line.
To begin with, the Canadian National's crack train, the Super Continental, was rolling smoothly out in Carleton County some place. Her green gold and black contours were sliding through the June landscape.
But in a hot room on the second, floor of the CNR offices in the depot, were other officials trying to bring her in.
Thus all The Clitizen had to do was to flip this or flick that, and for all her speed the "Super" would have to grind to a stop.
Push button railroading had come to the Ottawa terminals. This intricate system, ultra modern in design and as simple as pie, covers a large triangle bounded by Riverside, Hawthorne and Federal, and extends from Riverside to Hawthorne and from Hawthorne to South March,
Thus when No. 2 clipping through the bosky dells and cool pastures of Carleton County, the CTC was chaperoning this hot shot transcontinental alt the way.
"Past Nepean," cried one, and a light came on.
"She's at Bells Corners," and another light came on.
"Federal." yelled an employe, as the Super Sneaked across the. CTC board in lights.
Then came the yards and the bridge at Pretoria Avenue. In a minute or so it was possible to see her lights on the board then look out the window and see her back into the depot, right on the advertised time.
According to Walter Bowker, spokesman for the FDC, "the new system is an integral part of the FDC current railway location project to transfer CNR yard operations from the cross town tracks to new yards along the Walkley Road at the southern edge of the Capital."
It was further announced by William Gilbert of the Canadian National that the present cross town tracks right of way is being utilized for a crosslown limited access highway, the "Queensway" which will run from the Montreal Road at Green's Creek on the east, to rejoin Highway No. 17 at South March west of the Capital.
Good progress on the new Walkley Road terminal was predicted by G.T. Dunn, superintendent. He said that an estimated 20 crews would sooner or later be working out of the new terminals on the Walkley Road in the near future. He prophesiad that the new yard office might be ready by August 1. This he indicated, would mean the transfer ef an estimated 25 men on the three different shifts. One of the passing tracks at Federal is to have a capacity of 105 cars while another at Bell's Corners will hold 108.
This new push button railroading is the beginning of the end for the Union Depot, even though it may take some years for the cramped old terminal to go.
Parking problems, said one observer, will automatically drive the passenger trains to Walkley Road.
"It's just a matter of time," he declared.

A new panel, covering the Ottawa Terminals, was brought into use with the opening of the Ottawa Station on 31 July 1966, although it had been extensively tested before that date.  However, the original panel also included the Alexandria Subdivision east to Coteau as well as the Ottawa Terminals.  The Alexandria Subdivision continued to be run from the old Union Station until December 6th, 1966, 5 months later.  The senior dispatchers worked the new panel while the old panel (for the Alexandria) subdivision was worked by the relief men until it closed that December.  It seems that the only employees allowed into the Union Station after closure were the train dispatchers.

The Ottawa Terminals panel was taken out of service, and functions transferred to Montreal on July 14, 1990.  The first three pictures were taken by Ray Farand two days before the panel was taken out of service.

Dave Knowles provided this picture of the 1967 panel soon after opening.

Updated 23 August 2021

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