The Railways of Ottawa
Findings of the Circle - Part 3

Finding No. 18 Updated 15 August 2016
Area Industries
18.1  Ottawa Gas
18.2  Canada Atlantic Railway Rideau Canal siding
18.3  Dominion Bridge
18.4  British American Nickel Company at Deschenes
18.5  Internal Plant Tramways

18.1  Ottawa Gas

Click here to view a large scale location plan.

On 8 January 1913 the GTR was authorized to construct, within 6 months, a siding from a point on the GTR on lot G, Rideau Front, Nepean twp., now in the City of Ottawa, thence extending in a westerly direction to and into the premises of Ottawa Gas Co. on lot G.

Ottawa Gas
This oblique aerial photo of Ottawa Gas, taken in 1961, is available from the City of Ottawa Archives, reference CA-8495.

Tha above plan is dated June 1916.  The 1956 fire insurance plan of Ottawa Gas shows a main track and a long passing siding  of about 640 feet running almost the full length of the site.  The siding is labelled "Electric Siding".  There is also a 90-foot stub siding at the west end of the site and a 400-foot long connection across Lees Avenue from Ottawa Gas to the Currie Coal Tar Distillation Plant (or Tar Pitch Factory).

The east switch of the electric siding is about 150 feet inside the property and at least another 50 feet from the Bank Street line.  It seems that the gas works siding diverged slowly and descended from the Bank Street line at Riverside.

An 1958 aerial photograph does not show rolling stock on the site.  A 1928 picture does appear to show a couple of pieces of rolling stock on the main track.  There is a small building beside the west siding in 1928 which could have been used to store the locomotive.  The 1958 aerial photo seems to show some extensions of the trackage at the west end of the site, possibly curving around the gas holder, and some additional buildings not identified on the insurance maps.

Hull Electric Railway (see No. 11) locomotive No. 1, which was built by CGE in Peterborough in 1896, was sold to Ottawa Gas in 1927.  An early picture of the Hull Electric locomotive No. 1 is available from the National Archives, reference PA-203601.

There was a steel conveyor to deliver coal from the rail line into the coal shed by the large gas holder.  This shed also included oil storage.  It is connected to a long steel trestle and overhead electric crane which ran most of the length of the site (almost 450 feet).  Three coal or coke piles are visible under this crane, both on the fire insurance plan and on the aerial photograph of 1928.  The coke was probably removed by truck for local delivery. There was a weigh scale at the gate.

18.2    Canada Atlantic Railway, Rideau Canal siding - Silicate Brick Company.

In March-May 1892 the Canada Atlantic Railway built a siding from its main line just east of the Rideau Canal drawbridge down to a wharf on the Rideau Canal.  The company cribbed the frontage and it was used free of charge by the bargemen for transhipment between barge and railcar.

The Ottawa Daily Citizen reported on 28 April 1892:The C.A. Railway company have about completed their new wharves on the canal.  When the rails are laid cars will be able to be loaded from the barges.

The Ottawa Evening Journal also reported on the same date:
The new wharves which the C.A.R. are erecting along the canal are almost complete.

The Ottawa Journal, on 8 August 1895, reported a runaway on the siding:
A freight car ran off the siding running down to the canal east of the C.A.R. swing bridge this morning.  The car ran against the bridge, broke a truck and almost canted into the canal.

For some reason no lease was executed on Rideau Canal Reserve land which was not authorized by Order in Council until 29 August 1903.  The Silicate Brick Company entered into a lease for land to the south of the CAR wharf and a siding was built into the premises and authorized by order 19788 of 10 July 1913.

This picture shows the siding into the Silicate Brick Company in Canada Atlantic days (the cars are equipped with link and pin couplers).
To the right is the Rideau Canal and on the left Echo Drive.
N.Bruce Ballantyne collection.

In 1915, the City of Ottawa was planning the construction of the Pretoria Avenue Bridge between Pretoria and Hawthorne Avenues and the access road on the east side of the canal would have cut across the by then GTR wharf and the siding.  As a result the siding was ordered abandoned by order 24422 of 8 November 1915 and the lease was cancelled.

18.3 Dominion Bridge

Dominion Bridge was located on the Sussex Street subdivision of the CPR.  It was founded in 1911 and closed soon after 1965.

Picture taken in 1944. Dave Sproul collection. City of Ottawa Archives, E00379.
The switch leading to the shop building is an interesting three-way switch, judging by the position of the two frogs. 

This is a screen shot from plans prepared by Paul Delamere

18.4   British American Nickel Company at Deschenes


An aerial view looking west showing the nickel plant in the centre and the Hull Electric car barns on the left National Air Photo Library A29.4

In this view the Hull Electric car barns are behind and to the left of the nickel plant.

On 19 November 1921 Board of Railway Commissioners order 31837 authorized the CPR, with the consent of the Hull Electric Railway, to construct, within 6 months, four sidings and a scale track for the British American Nickel Co. as shown in plan No. 1629 of 10 Oct 1921 deposited in the registry office for Hull County on 10 Nov 1921.

British American Nickel was a short-lived (1917-22) nickel refinery served by several CPR sidings at Mile 4.75 of the Waltham Sub (Deschenes).  During WWI, the Americans were selling Canadian nickel processed into weapons to the Germans, so the Canadian govt decided to stop selling raw nickel  to American Nickel of Pittsburgh and instead to open up a Canadian plant under the watchful eye of the Canadian Govt.  Thus, American Nickel created British American Nickel and built the plant at Deschenes. After the war, there wasn't really a rationale for this plant anymore and the company closed it in 1922.  Apparently, the ruins were visible until 1985, even though it was torn down much earlier.

18.5    Internal Tramways updated 8 August 2022

Many local industries used tramways as a part of their internal distribution systems or as part of the construction process.  The following table summarizes those we have been able to identify

Department of Mines
See Finding No. 16.
Dochert Brick and Tile

See industrial locomotive listing for Arnprior, Ontario.  See also The Arnprior Dinkey
McLachlin Bros.
Ottawa Free Press 19 April 1871. Arnprior.  This morning, as McLachlin Bros. lumber cars were crossing the bridge in this village, a team attached to a waggon, standing near by, took fright, and started off across the track, and the team were thrown over the bridge.  One horse was saved, the other, with the waggon, was sunk.  One car was also thrown over the bridge, another smashed up and the bridge itself was badly broken.

Buckingham Plumbago (Walkers)
Built a tramway (double track inclined plane) late 1875.  see Findings 20.2 Buckingham Plumbago Mines
Canadian Phosphate
Ottawa Journal 7 July 1888. Buckingham - The High Rock is in grand feather, the twelve new houses and other buildings erected during the winter give it now quite a village appearance.  The tramway is greatly improved by reducing gradients and straightening the track.  From 70 to 80 tons can easily be brought down to the river now.  The output at the lower level mine is very good; the week before last having beaten the record of all former times, 52 tons having been produced in one day
Ottawa Iron and Manufacturing (Haycock Iron Mine)
"(Mr. Haycock) has constructed and in working order a HORSE RAILWAY six miles and a quarter in length from his mines to the Gatineau River."  31 cars were used. Ottawa Free Press 5 October 1874; 17 January 1876.
The Gauge was 3 feet Globe and Mail 14 February 1881.  For a map click here.
High Rock Mine
Click here for further details of the mine.
Little Rapids
Allan Phosphate Mine/
Little Rapids Mining Co.
Click here for further details of the mine.
Crown Hill Line
Ottawa Free Press 24 April 1889
--At the High Rock and Crown Hill mines, the tramways have been at work for several days past and several thousand tone of phosphate are ready for shipment.  
North Star Mine
Ottawa Free Press 24 April 1889
The North Star, also, will soon have a tramway of its own; the construction thereof is now in progress.  This will make the fourth mining tramway on the Lievre.
Ottawa Free Press 25 July 1891
Much dissatisfaction is felt by miners, forwarders and business men generally at the order given by the government to stop all traffic on the Little Rapids on the Du Lievre after Aug. 10, until the end of the season, in order to build a dam which, it is claimed, might easily have been build last winter.  The effect of this will be that all shipments of phosphate will have to be stopped from the North Star, Ross Mountain and High Rock and Union mines unless it is done by means of a tramway and portaging.
BuckinghamAetna and Squaw Hill Phosphate1890200 acres in the 12th range of  Buckingham, county of Ottawa. Plant included tramways.  A tramway from mines to wharf at river bank will be constructed in the spring of 1891.
Canadian Mining Manual 1890-91.
BuckinghamDominion Phosphate Mine1913Geological Survey Guide Book No. 3, Excursions in the Neighbourhood of Montreal and Ottawa (XII 1913). p. 107.
The Dominion Mine was opened up in 1910 and the mill was erected in the latter part of that year.  Work was continued until the latter part of the summer of 1912. Click here for a map of the mine.
BuckinghamEmerald Phosphate Mine
Click here for further details and a map of the mine.
Carleton Place
Canada Lumber
Renfrew Mercury 20 September 1889.
About 11 o'clock this morning an accident occurred in the lumber yard of the Canada Lumber Co., whereby Wm. Herricks, an employee of the company, lost his life.  Two lorries heavily laden with lumber, were running down grade in the yard.  Herricks was between the piles and wanted to cross the track, and as soon as the first car passed, rushed out, not knowing the second car was coming.  When upon the track the second car struck him down and passing over him, causing such injuries that the unfortunate man lived only a short time.
Ottawa Citizen 2 May 1893.
Ottawa as an Iron Centre.--
Time was when the production of iron was carried out to a considerable extent just across the interprovincial line, between Hull and Chelsea. The traveller by the Mountain road to or from the latter village, may still see evidence of the defunct industry, in heaps of broken ore, short stretches of tramway and the gaping mouth of a long neglected tunnel running into the iron mountain almost at the very roadside.  The smelting was carried on at Ironsides.  Twenty five years ago Mr. Haydock carried on the production of iron there upon quite an extensive scale.--
Quebec Hydro

See industrial locomotive listing for Chelsea, Quebec.
Deschenes mills/
Conroy Mills
Ottawa Free Press 16 January 1893
The Conroy mills at Lake Deschenes, with the many improvements and additions now being made to them will rank among the largest on the Upper Ottawa next summer.  The firm have decided to lay tracks through the lumber yards in the spring and use a small locomotive similar to the one at Buell & Hurdman's for shunting purposes.  Mr. A. Chapman has the contract for building the bed of the proposed railroad. Also in The Equity, Shawville 26 January.
Canada Lumberman 1 February 1893
The Conroy Mills at Lake deschenes, with its many improvements and additions, will take rank among the largest mills on the Upper Ottawa next summer.  The firm have decided to lay tracks throughout the lumber yards in the spring and will use a small locomotive similar to the one at Buell and Hurdman's for shunting purposes.
Ottawa Free Press 20 October 1893 -A fatality last Tuesday afternoon (17/10/1893) occurred under circumstances particularly sad at the pretty little village of Deschenes on the northern bank of the Ottawa river opposite Britannia.  The victim, a young man of thirty two years named Albert Fournier, was an employe of Conroy Bros.  The exact circumstances under which the accident occurred will perhaps never be known.  Fournier, with his younger brother, was working on a flatcar which an engine was taking through the lumber yards.  It is thought by some that he was trying to stop the car when, his foot slipping, he fell on the track and was run over and crushed.  More.
Ottawa Citizen 29 October 1893.
Albert Fournier, employed at Conroy's lumber yard at Deschenes Mills, fell from the top of a moving tramway lumber car on Tuesday, a wheel striking him on one side of his body breaking a number of ribs and causing other serious injuries from which he died half an hour afterward.
DeschenesFraser Mills
Piling ground appears to have been serviced by internal tramway
Gatineau Point
J.R. Booth
Ottawa Free Press 12 September 1889.
Mr. J.R. Booth has a large gang of men employed on the dock being built at his new piling grounds almost opposite the Gatineau Point.  A part of the track for the small cars has been completed.  The dock will be 100 yards long and slopes out into the river.
Hamiltons mill

The Union, Ottawa 13 September 1865.
Hawkesbury mills - owned by Hamilton.
The feeding gear is immediately set in motion also and in less than five minutes the giant of the forest passes out in an opposite direction, sawn into planks of various thicknesses, where tramways are laid down and carriages ready to receive them.  Around these mills as far as the eye can reach, the water is covered with floating lumber, while on the water edge are piled immense heaps of planks, varying in size and in such quantities as to cover about eight acres.  Tramways are run through them so that there is very little difficulty in loading barges,--
Eastern Ontario Review  3 September 1894
While working in the lumber yard at Hawkesbury last Saturday Mr. Laurent Harbick aged seventy-five was instantly killed. He was laying a track for the cars to run on when another man came up with a car loaded with heavy timbers. Mr. Harbick bent down to arrange some of the rails when the load of timbers accidentally fell off, three of them striking him on the head killing him instantly. When the timbers were removed the body turned over but the head was crushed into a jetty.
Buell & Hurdman (Buell, Orr & Co.)
Fire Insurance plans NMC 103074 of 1884 and 10404 of 1891 shows leased from E.B. Eddy.
Canadian Lumberman 1 December  1891
The Buell, Hurdman conmpany have purchased a locomotive from the Eddy Company, and have leased one of their lumber yards.
Ottawa Free Press 16 January 1893;
The Conroy mills at Lake Deschenes, with the many improvements and additions now being made to them will rank among the largest on the Upper Ottawa next summer.  The firm have decided to lay tracks through the lumber yards in the spring and use a small locomotive similar to the one at Buell & Hurdman's for shunting purposes.
Ottawa Free Press 4 Januaru 1894
Messrs. Buell, Hurdman & Company's little locomotive "Ella C" is undergoing extensive repairs.  When it starts work next summer it will likely be under another name.  The little engine is the last of a number which was used a few years ago around the sawmills of Hull and the Chaudiere.
Ottawa Citizen 11 September 1896;
The Ottawa Electric Company have prepared plans to extend their line almost as far as Main street, in Hull.  It is proposed to construct a wooden bridge from the present terminus to where the car tracks of Buell & Co. cross the roadway and from there to erect an iron trestle to Eddy's small stone building formerly occupied as the office of the company's sash and door factory. 
Ottawa Citizen 29 May 1897.  
A small engine used by Buell, Orr & Co. in their lumber yard on Thursday (27 May) ran off the track, extending from the firm's mills to the east side of the road leading to Hull, and nearly went over the bridge across the gully below the falls.  The fireman sustained a couple of severe injuries.
Brigham's Creek
Ottawa Iron & Steel
Tramway under construction at the Haycock Iron Mine in 1874.  Ottawa Citizen 25 June 1874 and 31 October 1874.
Hull and Wright Island
E.B. Eddy
Locomotives used from May 1888, converted to standard gauge.  See Finding 5.16 and Industrial locomotive listing for Hull, Quebec. Shown on Fire Insurance plans 103074 of 1884 and 33002 of 1895. Part or all leased to Buell & Hurdman and later Hull Lumber (q.v.).
Fire Insurance plan NMC 10376 of 1898 shows "system of tramways in this yard disused at present but may be revived and location changed when the Interprovincial Bridge is completed and company's private system of switches and sidings are connected herewith."
Brewery Creek
Gilmour & Hughson
Almonte Gazette 28 July 1882
An inquest was held on the body of Hugh Diamond, who was accidentally killed in Gilmore's lumber yard on the Gatineau. Deceased attempted to place his hand spike between the lumber and the end of the car, and in doing so over balanced himself, falling beneath it, the first car passing over his body and crushing his ribs in a fearful manner. The second car was thrown off the track, and the two hind wheels of the third passed over his forehead. A verdict of accidental death caused by deceased persisting in disobeying the orders of the foreman was returned

A system of raised tramways is shown in Fire Insurance plan NMC 11921 of 1901, located on the Ottawa River on the west side of Brewery Creek.
Hull and Wright Island
Hull Lumber

See E.B. Eddy.
Forsyth iron mine
Internal tramway.  Ottawa Free Press 21 January 1880.
Located near Ironsides.  -- Tramway cars convey the ore from the "hole in the ground" to the edge of the plateau, where it is dumped to the level below and carted away. -- work carried out under the superintendence of Captain Symons -- tramways will be run in the side shafts when necessary --
The ore is shipped by rail at present -- a team can make two trips a day to the cars - Chaudiere station of the St.L. & O. Railway --
Robbins mine - no tramway mentioned.
Baldwin mine - not being worked.
Haycock mine - status not mentioned.
Kingston Penitentiary

See Kingston Penitentiary

Billings Bridge
Brickworks believed to have had an internal narrow gauge tramway.
Billings Bridge
Dolan & Code
Construction of Canadian Northern Railway. Ottawa Journal 27 March 1912.
Metropolitan Electric
Locomotives were used in the construction of the Britannia Power Canal by the  Metropolitan Electric Company.  The work was carried out by Messrs. Brewder (or Bruder) & M(a)cNaughton, contractors.  May have been abandoned and left at Britannia after completion. Ottawa Journal - 29 November 1899 & 15 June 1912.  Ottawa Citizen - 13 January; 8 & 24 February; 3, 4 & 17 April; May 1 & 18; June 30 1899.
There was about two miles of track with at least 28 cars in use.
Ottawa Electric
"Two locomotives and about forty cars are in use ballasting the line" (construction of OER Britannia line).  Ottawa Journal 22 November 1899.  At least one of these was from the C.P.R. Ottawa Free Press 23 October 1899.
Canal Basin
Currier & Co.
 Ottawa Free Press 27 April 1882.
An elevated tramway for conveying lumber to their storehouse is being built by Currier & Co. on the eastern side of the Canal Basin.  The tramway reaches from the large store building recently occupied by John Hill as a wholesale house, to the eastern end of Sappers Bridge, at the old stair landing.
Champlain Bridge Consruction
A tramway,(appears to be standard gauge ) was used to move construction materials along the bridge
Ottawa Times 26 June 1868.
A man named Montreuil, while engaged in coupling the cars on which lumber is conveyed  on the tramways at the Chaudiere, accidentally got his head caught between them and was killed. Verdict - accidental death.
Baldwin's mills
Ottawa Citizen 11 May 1876
The Chaudiere lumber yards are completely submerged, and it is feared that unless the water soon subsides, numerous piles of sawn lumber will be carried down the river.  During the last 36 hours the river has risen seven inches every 12 hours.  This morning the strong current weakened one of the piers supporting an elevated railway in Mr. Baldwin's yard, and finally carried it away altogether.  More.
Ottawa Citizen 16 May 1876

Yesterday afternoon four piles of Mr. Baldwin's lumber tumbled into the water and carried with it about one hundred feet of an elevated tramway.
J.R. Booth
Ottawa Citizen 21 July 1875, 3 July 1881, 12 October 1897. Shown in Fire Insurance plan NMC 33002, 1895.
Bronson & Weston
Ottawa Free Press71 Jue 1878; 1 April 1880; 29 June 1882; Ottawa Journal 14 April 1890; Ottawa Free Press 26 January 1894; Ottawa Citizen 6 September 1899. Shown in Fire Insurance plan NMC 33002, 1895.
G.A. Grier & Co.
Almonte Gazette 20 August 1886
A MIRACULOUS ESCAPE. - A lumberman named Joseph Gautier experienced a most remarkable escape from a terrible death on Saturday. He was employed in Messrs. G. A. Grier and Co's., lumber yards at Ottawa, and was engaged in loading a car nearly at the end of the tramway. While reaching down a plank from a pile he stepped backwards towards one end of his load, and over balancing a plank was precipitated from the car over the side of the tramway on to the ground below, a total distance of nearly thirty feet. In his descent he passed between two piles of lumber, and when halfway down struck a plank which was lying between the two piles. Although the board was smashed, still the collision served to break his fall, so that when he eventually landed on the ground, the only wound he sustained was a gash about three inches long on the top of his head caused by coming in collision with a stone. Strange to say, no bones were broken, and beyond the gash referred to and a few internal injuries, he escaped further damage. Mr. Young, the foreman, sent a cart down to bring him up, but Gauthier managed to get up and walk away himself before the cart arrived.
Hull Lumber
Ottawa Journal 26 May 1897.
The Hull Lumber Co., Chaudiere, have commenced to construct a siding near their saw mills similar to the one in the E.B. Eddy Co.'s yards.
Hurdman's mills
Ottawa Citizen 30 May 1888,
Messrs. Hurdman and Co. have a complete system of tramways from their mills to the yard.
26 August 1889.

About 10.30 this morning a lad named Brisson, ten years of age, employed at Hurdman's mill, was crossing the level car track on the road to Hull, when the cars came down and caught him.  He was thrown violently for some distance, and before the brakes could be applied the first car had passed over both legs.  More. (N.B. not clear whether this refers to a mill tramway).
ChaudiereBradings Brewery/
Ottawa sewer
?This was brought to light through an article in the Ottawa Citizen 23 Nov 2012  "Lost  Train to Nowhere Lebreton's Underground Railway" by Ian McLeod. 
However, subsequent correspondence with a former Bradings brewery employee indicated that the north-south tunnel contained a conveyor belt only.  The east-west tunnel appears to be quite deep (10 metres).  Subsequent correspondence with Ian McLeod from people who worked at the brewery indicated:
1. that there was no railway in the brewery at all;
2. there was an underground railway and "One chap recalled how his father, who worked at Brading’s, often talked about a little underground train. Another man, recalled how a friend of his in the mining business in Northern Ontario worked on and off at Brading’s was sometimes called on to drive a small train there when the regular driver was off sick."
3. another possibility is that the east-west tunnel is/was part of the Ottawa Sewer system and the train was used to remove spoil during construction.  Upon completion of the work the small train might have been abandoned rather than going to the expense of removing it.
In short - to date (March 2015) it is not known whether there was a railway here, who built it or if it has survived.
Perley & Pattee
Ottawa Citizen 15 September 1876, 29 May 1888, 1 June 1889, 27 November 1899.
Ottawa Free Press 11 May 1876; 4 August 1880, 2 November 1880, 14 November 1882; 8 November 1893.  Shown on Fire Insurance plan, 1888, NMC 32999.
This tramway crossed Bridge street which was protected by a signal.  
N.B. Perley and Pattee were purchased by J.R. Booth in the early 1890's.
Pierce & Co.
Ottawa Free Press 14 March 1889 & 24 July 1889; Ottawa Journal 27 March 1889.
Baker and Betcherman

Narrow gauge tramway, no locomotives.
Hartwell's Locks
Used to move soil from Hartwell's locks as infill.  Narrow gauge steam locomotives in use.

No information.  See Finding No. 19.
Golden Triangle
Bronson's piling ground and tramway, north of CAR and west of the Rideau Canal, shown on Fire Insurance plan NMC 32999-105.  
Hogs Back
Royal Engineers
See Finding No. 8.
Mackenzie Avenue Unknown
Short railway used in construction of the Revenue Building.  From a picture in the City of Ottawa Archives.
New Edinburgh
Edwards mill
Ottawa Free Press 28 March 1893 and 14 April 1893.
Parliament Hill
Goodwin also
Used in the construction of the Dufferin Bridge and later to move spoil from Parliament Hill to Majors Hill.  See Finding No. 20.
Rideau Falls
Currier & Co.
c. 1861
The Union, Ottawa 10 October 1861
At the Rideau Falls--
A railway along the river front for two thousand feet, carries the lumber after it is sawn, and there are half a dozen railways branching towards the river , where slides carry it to the vessels at the wharves--
Rideau Locks
Short (standard gauge?) tramway used in the construction of the line between Nepean Point and Ottawa Central Depot. From National Archives photo PA-32188.
RigaudRigaud Granite Quarries1925Board of Railway Commissioners order 36600 of 14 July 1925. Canadian Pacific Railway is authorized to construct, within 6 months, a siding to serve Rigaud Granite Quarries at grade across John Street.  Approves less than standard clearances from the gauge side to the narrow gauge trestle.
Edwards mill

See industrial locomotive listing for Rockland, Ontario.

Johnson's quarry

Mill No 2

 Ottawa Free Press 3 March 1893.
A railway track is being built from Johnson's quarries near Rockland, to the bank of the Ottawa River, some three miles long, to convey stone for shipment for the Soulanges canal.  Mr. Stewart is superintending the work, a large number of men being quartered at Mr. James Johnson's.  These quarries show an unusual depth of the best stone and will probably be worked for the next six or seven years..  Another immense quarry is located on Mr. Johnson's property but is as yet undeveloped.
Eastern Ontario Review
The tramway at Mill No. 2, which was undermined by high water collapsed on Friday, and fell toward the river, while 25 men, one horse and three car-loads of luimber were on it. Four men were slightly injured. It will take three weeks to repair the damage done.
M.J. O'Brien
c 1914-1917
Narrow gauge railway in explosives factory.  See industrial locomotive listing for Renfrew, Ontario.

Finding No. 19.1 Updated 5 February 2005

The Glebe Tramway

The book "The Story of the Glebe" by John Leaning refers, on page 20, to a railway in the Glebe.

"....for a while, a rail-track to carry fill from a hill on the site of the future Glebe Collegiate to fill in the low area at Second and Third Avenues at Bank Street".

A phone call with Mr. Leaning indicated that this was built in the 1890 period but no further details. 

Finding No. 19.2 Updated May 2009

The Tramway at the site of Carleton University.

This tramway was described by Lee Gault in Branchline of August 1971.


by Lee Gault

Taking my cue from the name of our Society, I was inspired to contribute a little local history for the Newsletter.

It is about a narrow gauge railway, which operated in the City of Ottawa during the 1912 era, it is not recorded in the Railways of early Ottawa nor can it be found on any Ottawa maps of that period. I am pleased, therefore, that I was able to confirm that my recollections, of such a narrow gauge line was not a recent affliction of the mind "brought on by association with a bunch of railroad nuts”. Graham Lancaster, also a native of Ottawa, and his brother Bill were able to remember the same operation in far greater detail. The line did not carry passengers or freight but transported earth and clay to fill in a swampy area, including an inlet of the Rideau River at the south end of Bronson Avenue, now known as Brewer’s Park.

A parcel of the higher land adjacent to the CPR tracks south of Dows Lake belonged to the Orr family and according to memory became part of the Rogers Estate.  A Mr. V. Rogers undertook to fill in the large swamp and inlet by an ambitious project. He brought in narrow gauge railway equipment consisting of two 0-4-0 saddle tank steam engines and several four wheel side-dumping cars plus one or two steam shovels. One line was used to remove a small hill or mound from the Seneca area for fill and the second line ran from Cunningham’s Hill, which is now part of the Carleton campus. This second line ran east from the hill, over a wood trestle to cross the spillway creek from Hartwell Locks, then went under the CPR tracks through a stone culvert near White Bridge (it was white). It continued more or less parallel along the Rideau to the Brewer Park filling operation. The track was moved as the filling progressed by simply pinching it over a few feet at a time with crow bars powered "by brawny muscles and bits of encouragement from the section foreman.” The steam shovel scooped gobs of clay from the hill to fill the cars and the engine hauled it's unit train away to the point of dumping.

I do not know what Mr. Roger's plans were, other than to improve and enlarge the estate. The operation came to a close about the beginning of World War 1 but the equipment remained on the scene for some time. The two engines were protected by a. wooden shed. They were hauled away about 1918 by the Dominion Cartage Go, with Bert Holloway in charge. He used low slung lorries drawn by six horse teams. They were loaded on flat cars and headed out to Prescott, destination unknown.

There is a lot of sticky clay in Brewer's park as testimony of the forgotten filling operation. Also, the stone culvert under the CPR right-of-way, which is shown on Ottawa maps of 1915 or later, remains and is used for a pathway to the Campus, The spillway at Hartwell Locks has been closed off and the creek bed disappeared with the construction of Carleton University.

What a treasure this line would have been to our hi-balling members.

An interesting article by Jean-Claude Dube and John Calvert in the May 2009 issue of OSCAR, page 18-19, (Ottawa South Community Association) gives a description of the Ottawa South Property Company which carried out this work.  This can be found at:

Finding No. 20.1 Updated 31 October 2014

The Dufferin Bridge or Parliament Hill Tramway
The Ottawa Citizen of 19 July 1872 reported:

"Mr. Goodwin, the contractor for the new bridge, has erected an elevated tramway across the Canal, by means of which he proposes conveying the clay excavated on the western hill in grading Wellington street, across the Canal, for the purpose of filling in the Eastern abutments of the bridge."

In September 1873, the tramway was extended westwards and used to move spoil and rock from Parliament Square to Major's Hill (cars started to run on this section on September 26).  This was carried out by Mr. Gibson and the work may have involved a new bridge or alterations to the original one. In 1874, the papers reported an accident which occurred to a man walking along a tramway near Parliament Hill.  Horses were used to move car loads (or loreys) of earth, although they were unhitched before the bridge and presumably moved over it by gravity.  The man, Patrick Conklin, was crossing the bridge and was about to be overtaken by some cars.  He jumped on to the railing which gave way and he fell head first some forty feet to the ground.  He recovered in hospital.
A second accident resulted in the derailment of a car on the bridge in August 1875.

Some of the rails and cars were shipped by the barge "Davis" to the Buckingham Plumbago Company on 10 October 1875, this company proposed to build a tramway from the mine to the Ottawa River. A temporary tramway was constructed to take the rails and cars down to the canal locks for loading.  However, the last of the rails was not removed until 12 July 1876.  The mud cars, the property of Mr. Gibson, which had been stored all winter (1875-6) on Majors Hill, were removed to the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway Sussex Street station in August 1876 and shipped west to be put to work on one of Mr. Gibson's railway contracts.

The tramway bridge is shown at the bottom of National Archives photo C-493. 
The date given is November 1873 but it may have been earlier as the tramway was extended to Parliament Hill in September 1873.

Sources: The Citizen, Ottawa - 19 July 1872, 17 and 27 September 1873; 24 August 1874 and 14 July and 18 August 1876.
              The Times, Ottawa - 25, 26 and 28 August 1874, 6 May 1875, 18 August 1875 and 11 October 1875.
              The Free Press, Ottawa - 21 July 1874; 24 August 1874; 26 May 1875 and 11, 12, 14 and 15 October 1875.

Finding No. 20.2 Updated 31 October 2014
Buckingham Plumbago (Graphite) Mines

1877 Topley Photo
"The Dominion of Canada Plumbago Company's Mines"

Ottawa Citizen, 1 March 1873
Proposed Enterprise.
Another enterprise of a larger character has been originated by a number of gentlemen connected with the important mining interests of the Riviere Aux Lievres.  They have developed very rich mines of plumbago and phosphate of lime, and are extracting it in large quantities, but they find it more difficult to transport their freight over the four miles between Buckingham and the Ottawa river than the hundreds of miles it must be carried after it is conveyed to that point before it reaches the Eastern markets. Mr. Garrett, of the mining and lumbering firm of Garrett and Roberts, has suggested that a railroad might be constructed from the village to the wharf for the transportation of the immense quantity of minerals and lumber that must now be drawn in wagons over the worst of country roads before it can be shipped.
The project has been well received by every mill and mine owner on the Lievres.  An organization has been effected under the title of the Buckingham and Lievres Railroad and Navigation Company and an act of incorporation will be secured for it as soon as possible.  The object of the company is to construct a railroad from Buckingham wharf to the village and to place a line of steamers on the Lievres to connect the northern terminus of the road with the Little Rapids, twelve miles above the village.  This will afford the lumbermen and the mine owners a cheap and rapid means of shipping their freight to the Ottawa river, and for procuring supplies, etc., for their mines and mills.  Few of our readers are aware of the mineral richness of the country north of Buckingham.,3980750&dq=train+|+railway+|+railroad&hl=en
Ottawa Free Press, 11 October 1875
A quantity of railroad iron, sold by Mr. Gibson, contractor, to the Buckingham Plumbago Co., was, this morning, shipped on board a barge at the canal locks.  A temporary tramway was erected for the purpose of loading on the metal.
The Times, Ottawa, 11 October 1875
The Buckingham Plumbago Company have purchased the rails used by Mr. Gibson, the contractor for excavating the Parliament Square.  They purpose laying a tramway from the works to the Ottawa River to facilitate the transshipment of the produce of the mine.
Ottawa Free Press, 12 October 1875
The iron rails which were employed in the construction of Mr. Gibson's tram railway on Parliament Square and Major's Hill, were yesterday shipped by the barge Davis to the plumbago mines in Buckingham.  The trucks were also taken down.  It is evident from this that the Plumbago Company means business.
Ottawa Free Press, 25 October 1875
Account of a visit to the Buckingham Plumbago mine.--
After a pleasant ride down the river we arrived at the Buckingham Wharf.  At least it is called Buckingham Wharf, although in reality about four miles from the village.  Alighting from the boat, we observed the tramway cars and track lying at the wharf, awaiting transportation to the mines.  This material, it will be remembered, was purchased from Mr. Gibson, contractor, of this city.--
The tramway is already being built, and when finished will be 300 yards in length.  It will be double track, on an inclined plane, so that the velocity of the loaded cars will carry the empty cars up to the mines.  --
Ottawa Free Press, 1 November 1875
--The rails for the tramway are still at the wharf, and will not be conveyed to the mines until sleighing sets in.

This 1877 Topley picture comes immediately after the picture of the Buckingham Plumbago Mines shown above.  
It is captioned merely "Scenery" but one can surmise this is a picture of  one of the mines.
The rails here would appear to be wooden, the iron rails would likely have been used on the "main line".
Ottawa Journal 12 February 1894
Ten tons of graphite a day.  Mr. Walker's plumbago factory near Buckingham.  "Graphite City" is 35 or 40 minutes drive from Buckingham.
There is a full description of the facilities.
From the ore shed to the crushers there is a train way to the mine.  When the mine gets started fourteen cars will be put on this line to bring the ore from the mine.
It is expected that within two years there will be a railroad to the Lievre River, a few miles away where a shipping dock will be built.

John E. Udd, in his book "The Mines of Ottawa" lists Walker's Mines.
After a detailed description of the location "About 8 km north-west of Buckingham, it was worked by W.H. Walker and sold to the Dominion of Canada Plumbago Company in 1875.  Twenty-five persons were reported to have worked on the property in 1889.  No production was reported in 1892.  It was worked again in 1894 (1895).  The company was reported as having been l;iquidated in 1897 (1897). The deposit was worked again in 1902 and was famous for the quality of its products."

Map from Geological Survey Guide Book No. 3, Excursions in the Neighbourhood of Montreal and Ottawa (XII 1913).

Detail from map below

Finding No. 21 Updated 3 December 2019

Railway Structures Destroyed (Mainly) by Fire

This page has been transferred to a new page at 

Finding No. 22 Updated 17 January 2003

Railway Pole Routes
Pole routes were used extensively by the railways to communicate between stations and offices.  Although not used now, these could provide the historian with some clues as to the locations of some photographs, particularly by reference to the number of cross arms.  The configuration of pole routes varied from time to time and the following tables show the situation in the Ottawa area in the 1960's.  These show only those sections which included a dispatchers' phone.  Additional wires and cross arms were used to work crossing circuits.

Canadian National - Number of Cross Arms
Beachburg sub.
Ottawa to Nepean
Beachburg sub.
Nepean to Brent
Renfrew sub.
Nepean to Golden Lake
Renfrew sub.
Golden Lake to Whitney
Locksley sub.
Whitney to National Junction, Pembroke
2 at 45 angle
Alexandria sub.
Coteau to Glen Robertson
Alexandria sub.
Glen Robertson to Ottawa

Canadian Pacific Railway - Number of Cross Arms
M&O sub.
Vaudreuil to Hurdman
3 but 4 if crossing signals needed
Lachute sub.
Lachute to Hull
1 but 2 if crossing signals needed
Belleville sub.
Smiths Falls to Glen Tay
Belleville sub.
Glen Tay to Agincourt via Trenton
Havelock sub.
Glen Tay to Agincourt via Havelock
Winchester sub.
Vaudreuil to Smiths Falls
Chalk River
Smiths Falls to Chalk River
Maniwaki sub.
Hull to Maniwaki
Waltham sub.
Hull to Waltham
Cornwall sub.
Soulanges to Hurdman
Prescott sub.
Bedell to Prescott
Brockville sub.
Brockville to Smiths Falls
Eganville sub.
Payne to Eganville
Carleton Place sub.
Ottawa West to Carleton Place
*From the Dispatching office in Smiths falls to the junction of the Chalk River and Belleville Subs north of Cornelia Street in Smiths Falls (Now called SCOTT in the timetable), there were 8 crossarms, 4 for the Chalk River, 4 for the Belleville/Havelock subs.
Bruce Chapman

In May 2017 Chris Hall prepared the following:

Beachburg Sub Mile 0 to Wass- Current pole line built around 1953 to take on circuits for the Renfrew Sub. Mainly copper wire (mostly removed) and some steel multistrand for signal power. Fibre optics lines still on poles. Remaining circuits are active today for CTC. In area of track relocation at Bank Street, signal circuits were buried. Prior to 1953 were original CNoR lines (iron wires) and poles, probably 2-3 crossarms from Hurdman to Federal. Some original 1912-1916 era insulators were re-used and are still in place. Orignal CNoR pole spacing 150 feet, current is 120 feet.

Beachburg Sub Wass-Nepean- Current pole line from around 1953, similar to line east of Wass. Still on north side. Circuits probably dead west of Federal. Fibre optics cable currently on poles, all insulators replaced during 1950's upgrade. Orignal CNoR pole spacing 150 feet, current is 120 feet. South side had CP line added around 1966 (insulators dated 1964) to replace the lost line from Bells Corners to Ottawa West. Began with 3 crossarms, reduced to 2 and still stands. This line continues east along the south side of the Walkley line through the yard to Hawthorne, then runs along the east/north side of the old NYC all the way to Ottawa Station. Line is heavily damaged in many spots and out of service. These have multistrand steel wires, likely copper core. Spacing is around 125 feet.

Walkley Line- CPR line on south side as mentioned previously, CN on north side with signal circuits. Through the yard area both CN and CP lines ran through the bush south of the yard. CN line connected to poles on Alexandria Sub east of Hawthorne. Spacing between poles around 125 feet. 

Beachburg Sub Nepean to Brent- 6 wires on north side, removed in 1996. Some iron wires remain on poles in Pembroke and Beachburg to this date. Orignal CNoR pole spacing 150 feet lasted until removal.

Smiths Falls Sub- Federal to Mile 1.0 had 20 circuits, likely for signal power and CTC approach signal. West of Mile 1.0 typically 6 wires to Napanee (probably iron) with extra crossarms for crossing circuits. Entire pole line removed from Federal to Napanee in 1973/74. Original 1912 insulators were still in use at time of removal. Orignal CNoR pole spacing 150 feet lasted until removal.

Renfrew Sub- Likely one crossarm Nepean to Whitney, pole line removed west of South March station sometime after 1968. Line from Nepean to South March is copper and fairly modern, likely upgraded for CTC approach signals around 1953. Pole spacing currently around 120 feet, original probably 150 feet.

Alexandria Sub- 3-4 crossarms, pole line likely rebuilt in 30's or 40's, some original iron wires remained until fairly recently. Pole line destroyed in many places during ice storm of 1998, disabling CTC. Worst leaning poles removed shortly after, other poles being removed slowly to date. Hawthorne to Carlsbad Springs still has poles, 1 mile east of Carlsbad does too, no poles left on most of the remainder of the line. On north side Bell Telephone had a pole line with up to 50 circuits (4-5 crossarms) which was removed sometime after 1965. Between Hawthorne and CSTM on south/west side of "old Alex" subdivision some poles remain, iron wires still attached in areas- only spot left in Ottawa with iron wires. A few original 1880's insulators were still to be found all along the entire line until recently, with many newer ones added over the years. Current pole spacing around 120 feet, original spacing unknown, but probably 150 feet.

L'Orignal Sub- 2 crossarms, some copper and some iron wires. This line likely had 2 crossarms (old air photos show 2 in shadows cast by poles in Cyrville area) as it replaced the original telegraph line along the Ottawa to L'Orignal Road (later Hwy 17) that originated in 1847. Unsure if circuits were relocated to Alexandria Sub after 1939, but likely. Circuits were still being added or upgraded after 1927 by types of insulators found. Orignal CNoR pole spacing 150 feet lasted until removal.

Carleton Place Sub- CN line on south side had 4-6 iron wires. Built in 1870's, pole locations remained unchanged, although rotten ones swapped out. Spacing about 150 feet. Removed between 1955 and 1965. CP line on north side was up to 4 crossarms, less in later years. This line replaced an earlier line on same side with poles spaced further apart. Likely revamped in 1920's, but many older insulators retained. Poles spaced about 120 feet on CP line, original CP line likely 150 feet. Date of removal of CP line likely around 1990 abandonment, poles in Bells Corners stood later, "New" line coming off Beachburg Sub still standing east of Moodie Drive.

Finding No. 23 Updated 7 November 2018

The Miniature Train at Britannia Park

Britannia train

Bruce Ballantyne has provided this picture of the miniature live steam train that operated in Britannia Park until the 1950's.  Bruce writes:
"Note that the photo was taken in a strategic location and time with the passing of a CP passenger train on the Carleton Place Sub with Pacific-type #1227 hauling the train (#1227 was one of the last steam engines to run out of Ottawa into early 1960). Also note the little water tank and pipe at the left for filling the little engine's tender. From the looks of the kids, I would say the photo was taken in the early 1950s. I don't know when the train and tracks were removed."

As a follow up, Bernie Geiger writes that in 1962:
1. The train was running counterclockwise (to even out the wheel wear?).
2. The water tower was still there.
3. The locomotive (4-4-0) was pulling two cars, similar or identical to the previous ones.
4. The wire fence (next to the CPR mainline) in the background has been replaced with a picket type fence.

Bernie provides this additional picture.

Al Craig pointed out that the miniature railway was operated originally on Toronto Island (about 1905), then it was put into storage for a while. After that George Cooper bought it, brought it to Ottawa, and petitioned the City to operate it in Britannia Park, which he did.
About 1958 or 1960 Cooper moved it with him to Orillia where it was operated in a park there at least until about 1998.

The locomotive (believed to have been built by Cagney in 1892) may now have moved from Orillia to The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum on Thompson Street in North Tonawanda.  It was restored by Mammoth Locomotive Works, Palisade, CO and placed on exhibit in 2013 by the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, NY.

The Britannia Amusement Park is covered in this web site

These pictures and an explanation were provided by Bob Nash following a visit to the Herschell Carrousell factory Museum in November 2018

Finding No. 24 Updated 16 March 2003

Change of Gauge at Prescott Junction

The Bytown and Prescott Railway was built to the standard gauge (4’ 8“) whereas the Grand Trunk Railway, with which it connected at Prescott junction, was built to the provincial 5’ 6” gauge.  Interchange of cars was not possible between the two lines and this did not, pose great difficulties at first, particularly bearing in mind that much of the traffic on the Bytown and Prescott was conveyed by car ferry across the St. Lawrence River where it was put on the standard gauge American network at Ogdensburg.

However, the Grand Trunk broad gauge system became extensive and the Bytown and Prescott (which became the Ottawa and Prescott and later the St. Lawrence and Ottawa) found itself at a disadvantage, particularly when the second railway into Ottawa, the Canada Central, was built to the wide gauge and had the advantage of easy interchange with the Grand Trunk at Brockville.  The Grand Trunk was also feeling the effects of the break of gauge with standard gauge railways and a solution was developed.

The Ottawa Citizen documents some through movements between the St. Lawrence and Ottawa and the Grand Trunk as follows:

For Chicago.  Nine cars belonging to the Canada Rolling Stock Company are at the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway station today to be loaded with sashes and doors to be sent through to Chicago without transshipment. (12 March 1871)

Mr. Luttrell of the St. L. & O. Railway left town yesterday after making arrangements with the wholesale merchants of this city for heavy shipments of goods for the west.  The freight will be sent without transshipment on change-gauge cars. (29 April 1871)

Seventeen cars laden with lumber were dispatched yesterday for Boston, to be delivered without transshipment via the St. L. & O. Railway. (18 May 1871)

Cars belonging to the National Car Company are at the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway depot, being loaded with beds, mattresses and bedsteads from Whiteside & Co.'s establishment, to be sent through to Chicago without transshipment. (7 November 1871)

This section of the Grand Trunk was converted to standard gauge on 3-4 October 1873, after which time cars could be interchanged freely.

How did the cars move from one gauge to the other?  This question is answered in:
The American Railroad Freight Car : From  the Wood Car Era to the Coming of Steel by John H. White Jr.   (John Hopkins Univ. Press,  Baltimore. 1993.) page 450.

“Before exploring other aspects of arch-bar trucks, we should study with greater care the 1868-1869 Grand Trunk truck mentioned earlier (Fig. 7.20). Because of its 5-foot 6-inch gauge, the Grand Trunk could not exchange cars with its connecting lines and was thus cut out from the economies of the interchange service just then developing. Just as the Union Line had experimented with broad-tread wheels to solve a similar problem, so too did the National Despatch Line, another fast freight line, develop a way to overcome the gauge difference, National Despatch adopted telescoping axles so that wheels could be reset for a 91/2-inch difference in track gauge.

“The scheme selected was patented by C. D. Tisdale of East Boston, Massachusetts, with the first patent having been issued in March 1863.  Special wheels with extra-large hubs were fitted with key wedges.  The axles were notched so that the wheels could be set at standard or 5 -foot 6-inch gauge.  The keys were locked in place by a long safety pin and giant rubber bands.  The position of the wheel was shifted by a gradually diverging or converging track.  In the shift from broad to standard, the keys would be loosened and removed at one end of the tapering track, workmen in a 4-foot-deep pit removed the keys from below the train.  A long shed was built over the pits to protect the workmen.  With the keys out, the train was slowly pushed down the track, and the wheels-would be forced inward as the train moved along the converging rails, Once at the end, the workers would reinsert and lock the wedges and the train could go on its way.  The change could be done in five to ten minutes.  When shifting to broad gauge, a third rail set inside the tapering track pushed the wheel out to the wider gauge.  Shifting stations were located at Point St. Charles, Montreal, and Sarnia, Ontario.  The plan was first tried in November 1863, yet no serious consideration was given to it until early 1868.  The tests proved so promising that by late in the following year two hundred adjustable-gauge cars were running between Chicago and Boston via the Michigan Central, the Grand Trunk, the Vermont Central, and several connecting lines in New England.  The problems of the northern east-west route seemed to have been resolved, and three hundred more cars were ordered by National Despatch.

“Just months later, however, the Grand Trunk announced plans to rebuild its entire line to standard gauge.  Major conversions were completed in 1872 and 1873, with all parts of the system having been remade to the Stephenson gauge by September 1874.  This disruptive and costly conversion might have been avoided had the changeable-gauge trucks worked as well as advertised.  Problems obviously had developed.  The keyway grooves were said to weaken the axles. Misgivings over the safety of the telescoping axles were voiced as early as 1846, long before the Grand Trunk test. Considerable skepticism was expressed as to the reliability of the workmen charged with loosening and tightening so many wheels day in and day out.  Even on the short freight trains of that time, could the men be trusted to pursue their jobs with care?  Crouching in a dank pit for ten hours with a rumbling train overhead could be tiresome and lead to boredom and negligence.  It seemed like a scenario for disaster.  Even if the axle crews proved true to their duty, the normal wear of the shifting wheels would beget loose fits, and even a slight wobble could cause a derailment.”

In spite of the potential disadvantages, the Grand Trunk felt this to be an advantage as this extract from the Ottawa Citizen of 12 July 1872 notes:
The Grand Trunk Railway authorities have recently issued a notice to the effect that the restrictions and difficulties existing hitherto at Port Huron, as regarded forwarding goods to the Western States, have at length been removed, and that the change of gauge cars of the Company enable it to ship goods, household effects, &c. to Chicago and other Western ports of entry without detention.
There is no reference in this account to a gauge change facility at Prescott Junction although this must have existed there, if only for a brief period.  Another interesting and unexpected item of our railway history.

(With thanks to David Knowles for the reference)

Updated 4 November 2022

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