SIGNIFICANT DATES IN CANADIAN RAILWAY HISTORY

   A detailed chronology of the history of the railways of the Ottawa area is to be found in the companion pages:

Significant Dates in Ottawa Railway History

 The entries in this listing are shown in chronological order. You may either scroll through or click on the dates below

1860
1880
1900
1920
1940
1960
1980
2000
 

1832, February 25 - Incorporation of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad to build from Dorchester, now St-Jean, to a point on the St. Lawrence River at or near Laprairie. This is the first Canadian railroad charter.

1836, March - Incorporation by the Legislature of New Brunswick of the St. Andrews and Quebec Rail Road Company to build from St. Andrews to lower Canada. This is the oldest charter of a Canadian Pacific constituent. Operation was not commenced until spring, 1851.

1836, July 21 - Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad opened. This was Canada's first public railroad. The inaugural train was pulled by the locomotive the "Dorchester". In 1857 the Champlain and St. Lawrence became part of the Montreal and Champlain Railroad which was leased to the Grand Trunk in 1864 and now forms part of the Canadian National system.

1839, September 19 - Official opening of the Albion Mines Railway between Albion Coal Mines and New Glasgow, N.S. using theTimothy Hackworth steam locomotives "Samson", "Hercules" and "John Buddle" imported from England.

1847, July - Incorporation, by the Legislature of the Province of Canada, of La Compagnie du Chemin à Rails du Saint-Laurent et du Village d'Industrie, to build from Lanoraie, on the Saint Lawrence downstream from Montreal, to Village d'Industrie, 12 miles. Village d'Industrie was later renamed Joliette after its founder, Barthelemy Joliette. This railway originally had wooden rails surmounted by iron straps. It was taken over by the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway in 1878 and acquired by CP in 1884.

1851, July 31 - The 5'6" gauge, broad gauge, is adopted as the standard gauge for Ontario and Quebec. The broad gauge was used until about 1870 after which time there was a gradual change to the now standard 4' 8 1/2" gauge.

1853, May 16 - The first train in Ontario runs between Toronto and Aurora on the Ontario Simcoe and Huron Railroad Union Company. The name was changed to Northern Railway of Canada on August 16, 1858 and it became part of the Northern and Northwestern Railway on June 6, 1879, now part of Canadian National.  The first train was driven by W.T. Hackett who also took the first locomotive into Kansas City.

1853, July 15 - Grand Trunk Railway is formed by the amalgamation of the following companies:

    Grand Trunk Railway of Canada
    Grand Junction Railway
    Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada East
    Quebec and Richmond Railway
    St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway
    Toronto and Guelph Railway
The Grand Trunk also leased the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railway giving access to Portland, Maine.

1853 - The Great Western Railway opens its main line between Windsor and Niagara Falls. The Great Western went on to build, lease or buy other railways throughout Southern Ontario, and it can be claimed to be the first Canadian system.  the first sections were opened as follows:

1853, November 10 - Hamilton to the Suspension Bridge at Niagara Falls.
1853, December 31 - Hamilton to London.
1854, January 27 - London to Windsor.
1854, August 21 - Galt branch.
1854, October 25 - opening of the Carillon and Grenville Railway.

1854, December 25 - Opening of the Bytown and Prescott Railway between Prescott and Bytown (now Ottawa), 54 miles. First rail service to what is now Canada's Capital. Bytown was renamed Ottawa in 1855 and the railway became the Ottawa and Prescott Railway Company, now part of Canadian Pacific.

1855, March 19 - The vehicular suspension bridge across the Niagara Gorge (built in 1848) is strengthened for the passage of railway trains. The original wooden trusses were replaced by steel in 1880.

1855, December 3 - The Great Western Railway "branch" between Hamilton and Toronto is opened to traffic.

1856, June 3 - Opening of Windsor Branch Railway from Windsor to Windsor Jc., N.S. by Nova Scotia government. This was the oldest constituent of the Dominion Atlantic Railway.

1856, July - first section of the Grand Trunk Railway west of Toronto is opened between Toronto and Guelph. 

1856, September 27: Grand Trunk Railway opens from Guelph to Stratford.

1856, October 27 - The Grand Trunk Railway opens its broad gauge line throughout between Montreal and Toronto. It was opened in sections as follows:

Montreal to Brockville - November 17, 1855.
Oshawa to Toronto - August 11, 1856.
Brockville to Oshawa - October 27, 1856.
The first through train, consisting of 3 first class and 3 second class coaches, ran from Montreal (Point St. Charles) to Toronto (Don Station) and a similar train made the journey in the opposite direction.Departure was at 07:00 from Montreal and 07:30 from Toronto.  The trains passed in the vicinity of Kingston Junction where a stop of 30 minutes occurred for lunch.  The journey took 14 hours.

1856, November 1-2 - The opening of the Grand Trunk Railway is celebrated in Montreal:

9 a.m. - general procession through the city.
2 p.m. - banquet in the large building belonging to the company at Point St. Charles.
8 p.m. - torchlight procession and fireworks.
9 a.m. (next day) - steam boat excursion to victoria bridge; inauguration of the new city waterworks.
2 p.m. - grand military review.
in the evening - grand illumination and ball at the Bonsecours Hall.
1857, March 12 - A Great Western Railway train breaks an axle while crossing a swing bridge and plunges into the Desjardins Canal near Hamilton. 59 people are killed.

1859, December 12 - First train operated over the Victoria Railway Bridge, Montreal. The first passenger train crossed the structure on December 17, 1859 and it was formally opened by the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, on August 25, 1860. The original structure was a single-track iron tubular bridge. The tube, when first constructed, was entirely enclosed and there were ventilation problems. Later a slit 20" wide was cut in the tube the full length of the bridge to permit the emission of smoke.

1859, December 27 - The Grand Trunk Railway completes its line between Toronto and Sarnia and establishes a ferry service across the St. Clair River to Fort Gratiot (Port Huron).

1859 - the first sleeping car is built at the Brantford shops of the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway in preparation for the tour of the Prince of Wales the following year.  George Pullman saw this car and in 1859 obtained a US patent for a sleeping car.  The first Pullman sleeping car was produced in 1863.

1860 - Grand Trunk opens its line between Quebec and Rivière du Loup.

1860, August 1 - European and North American Railway opens from Saint John, NB to Shediac. The line became part of the Intercolonial Railway on July 1, 1867.

1860, September 10 - the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, travels between Toronto and Collingwood, Ont and return.  The special train of two coaches and an open observation car, was hauled by Northern Railway 4-4-0 locomotive "Cumberland" and was in charge of Superintendent of Motive Power James Tillinghast with Engineer L.S. Williams.

1860, December 31 - The Brockville and Ottawa Railway opens a tunnel l/3 of a mile under the town of Brockville. This was the first railway tunnel in Canada.

1863 - the first railway is opened in Western Canada.  The New Vancouver Coal Mining Company opens a line to move ballast and coal in the Nanaimo area of Vancouver Island.  The first locomotive, named "Pioneer", was an 0-4-0T imported from the Canada Works of Brassey & Co, England.

1864, June 29 - A railway accident on the Grand Trunk Railway at Beloeil, Quebec, takes ninety-nine lives when a special passenger train carrying German immigrants went through an open drawbridge. This was Canada's worst railway disaster.

1867, July 1st - Dominion of Canada is formed by Confederation of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. One of the conditions of Confederation was the building of a railway by the newly constituted Dominion Government to connect Halifax with the St. Lawrence at or near Quebec. Sir Sandford Fleming directed the surveying and construction of the trackage to fill in the gap in the railway system between Rivière du Loup and Truro, the Grand Trunk having previously constructed eastwards as far as Rivière du Loup and the Province of Nova Scotia having built a line between Halifax and Truro.

The Canadian Government Railway, also known as the Intercolonial Railway, was formed to take over the lines in Nova Scotia and to construct the trackage between Rivière du Loup and Truro.

1867 - the first dining car is introduced on the Great Western Railway.

1871, July 12 - North America's first public narrow gauge railway, the Toronto and Nipissing, is opened for traffic between Toronto and Uxbridge. The 3'6" gauge line was converted to standard by 1884.

1871, July 20 - British Columbia is admitted to the Dominion of Canada. One of the conditions of entry is that the Dominion Government should, within two years from the date of union, commence the construction of a railway from the Pacific towards the Rocky Mountains and from a point east of the Rocky Mountains towards the Pacific to connect the seaboard of British Columbia with the railway system of Canada.

 Sir Sandford Fleming was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of this railway which was to be completed by 1881.

1872, November - The Grand trunk line between Sarnia and Buffalo via Stratford and London as well as the St. Marys branch is changed from 5' 6" to standard gauge. The actual work was done in 18 hours.

1873, July 1 - Prince Edward Island joins Confederation. One of the conditions was that the Dominion Government take over and complete the Prince Edward Island Railway which had been commenced in 1871. The Intercolonial Railway became responsible for the Prince Edward Island Railway and opened the line between Charlottetown and Tignish for traffic on January 4, 1875.

1873, October 3-4 - The Grand Trunk Railway converts the gauge of its line between Stratford and Montreal, 421 miles together with 60 miles of sidings, from 5' 6" to the standard gauge of 4' 8 1/2". The track work was completed in 24 hours and occasioned but 16 hours interruption in the use of the main line.

1874, October 26 - All Grand Trunk Railway lines east of Montreal, 542 miles, are converted from 5' 6" to standard gauge.

1875, April 26 - First scheduled train over the Prince Edward Island Railway from Charlottetown to Georgetown.

1875, June 1 - Ceremony of turning the first sod on the Canadian Pacific Railway on the left bank of the Kamistiquia River in the townsite of Fort William about four miles from the river's mouth.

1875 - The Intercolonial Railway converts its gauge from 5'6" to 4' 8 1/2".

1876, July 1.- Through rail travel between Halifax, Quebec and the rest of the Canadian rail system is made possible.

1877, August - First use of the telephone to dispatch trains. This was at the Caledonia Mine at Glace Bay on the Sydney Mines Railway. One of the owners was Gardiner G. Hubbard who was the father in law of Alexander Graham Bell who installed two telephones to control train movements.

1877, October 9 - Locomotive Countess of Dufferin arrives at St. Boniface on a barge towed by the steamer "Selkirk". It was brought in by the contractor Joseph Whitehead to work on the Selkirk - Emerson line and was the first locomotive in Manitoba and on the Prairies.

1879, May 20 - The Department of Railways and Canals comes into effect with a Minister having jurisdiction over all railways pertaining to the Dominion Government. Previously this function had been covered by the Department of Public Works.

1879, August 12 - The Intercolonial Railway gains access to Quebec by purchasing the Grand Trunk line between Quebec and Rivière du Loup.

 1879, September 19 - The Credit Valley Railway is formally opened by his His Excellency, the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of Canada at Milton Ontario.

1879, December 29 - The locomotive J.G. Haggart is taken over the ice of the Red River into Winnipeg by the contractor Joseph Whitehead to start construction westwards across the Prairies in the spring of 1880.

1880, January 31 - An Ice Railway is opened between Longueuil and Montreal by the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway. A railway track was placed on large timbers laid on the ice of the St. Lawrence River. During the summer months the QMO&O used a car ferry. An ice railway was laid each winter until 1883.

1880 - The Grand Trunk Railway extends its line to Chicago, thus providing a through route from the American Midwest to the St. Lawrence at Montreal and Quebec and the Atlantic at Portland.

1881, February 15 - Canadian Pacific Railway Act receives the Royal Assent. A Royal Charter pursuant to the Act was granted on February 16th - this incorporated the company. The principal terms provided for the payment to the railway of a subsidy of $25,000,000 and 25,000,000 acres of land, plus the railways (Port Arthur-Selkirk-Winnipeg-Emerson and Port Moody-Savona) already contracted for by the government, upon their completion.

188l, August 26 - First train into Winnipeg over the Red River Bridge.

1882, January 1 - William Cornelius Van Horne is appointed General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Van Horne succeeded in laying 480 miles of track across the Prairies in the summer of 1882.

1882, August 12 - Great Western Railway, controlling 1,009 miles of track is merged into the Grand Trunk System.

1882, September 13 - The Canada Atlantic Railway is opened between Ottawa and Coteau. This line which was built by John R. Booth was extended, within a period of 20 years, into a system stretching from Georgian Bay to the Vermont border.

1883, August 10 - First train reaches Calgary.

1883, September 22 - The Grand Trunk Railway acquires the 452 mile Midland Railway.

1883, November 18 - railways adopt a standardized system of keeping time that uses hour-wide time zones.

1884, November 1 - The Harbour Grace Railway, the first railway on Newfoundland, is opened for traffic between St. Johns and Harbour Grace. The last spike was driven by Prince George, later to become King George V, who was at the time visiting Newfoundland as a midshipman aboard H.M.S. Cumberland.

1885, April - Second Northwest (Riel) Rebellion. Van Horne moves troops to the west through northern Ontario entirely over Canadian soil. This efficient military movement demonstrated the advantages to Canada of a completed transcontinental railway and prompted the government to grant temporary aid to the CP to enable completion of the line.

1885, May 16 - the last spike of the eastern section of the Canadian Pacific Railway is driven by Lieutenant-Colonel Oswald of the Montreal Light Infantry with W.C. Van Horne in attendance at a point between the Jackfish Tunnel and the Blackbird River trestle on the north shore of Lake Superior. The Colonel and his men were on their way to put down the Second Northwest Rebellion.  

1885, September 15 - the famous circus elephant "Jumbo" is killed by a GTR freight train, hauled by locomotive no. 788 at St. Thomas.  It was struck from behind while being lead along the track to be loaded into his car. Jumbo stood 12' 5" high and weighed 7½ tons.  
The Globe and Mail of 26 Octoober 1951 had the following commentary:

"Jumbo, the Barnum circus elephant killed in St.Thomas on the evening of Sept 15, 1885, literally attacked the old Grand Trunk freight  locomotive which struck it.  Fred R. Arnum, retired veteran train dispatcher, said today, in breaking a long silence on the tragedy.  Mr. Arnum was night operator for the Grand Trunk at the time and is the only one of the 38 railway witnesses who gave evidence at the inquiry in New York City, still living.  He was there for two weeks giving his testimony.
"Mr. Arnum said a circus official disregarded specific instructions given him not to start loading the circus animals until after 9:55 o'clock on the night of the accident and also not until after a yard crew was sent to assist.  The locomotive of a westbound freight struck Jumbo in he east yards at 8:18 o'clock.
"Mr. Arnum said that when Jumbo saw his danger he reared up on his rear legs and struck at the locomotive with such force that he cut off the smokestack.  One of the cylinder heads struck the elephant's tusk, driving it back into his head.  Jumbo did not breathe his last until 4 o'clock the following morning."

1885, November 1 - First train service established over CP between Montreal and Winnipeg via Ottawa, Sudbury and the Lakehead.

1885, November 7 - The last spike is driven in the first Canadian transcontinental main line at Craigellachie B.C. in the Eagle Pass. Van Horne makes his famous fifteen-word speech "All I can say is that the work has been well done in every way".

1885, November 8 - The CP special train arrives in Port Moody at Pacific Tidewater, the first railway train ever to travel across Canada from sea to sea.

1886, June - Contracts are let for the construction of the Chignecto Marine Transport Railway, a 17 mile railway to carry ships across the Chignecto Isthmus between Tidnish on Northumberland Strait and Fort Lawrence on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Work on this double track, standard gauge railway, conceived by New Brunswick engineer Henry George Cloppers Ketchum, commenced in 1887 but was abandoned, three quarters completed, when the funds ran out in the summer of 1891.

1886, August 13 - Sir John A MacDonald drives the last spike at mile 25, Cliffside, on the Esquimalt and Nanaimo  Railway on Vancouver Island.  The line became part of Canadian Pacific in 1905.

1887, May 23 - The CP main line is extended 12.2 miles along Burrard Inlet to Vancouver.  The first train is pulled by Port Moody based locomotive No. 374, now preserved at the Vancouver Drake Street roundhouse.

1887, November 2 - the Canada Atlantic Railway commences using the first passenger cars in Canada to be fitted with electric light.

1887, November 10 - Canada Atlantic Railway commences heating passenger cars by steam from the locomotive thus eliminating the danger of fire from stoves.  This is the first such use in Canada.  The railway completed the conversion of its entire passenger fleet in October 1891 thus becoming the first railway in Canada to use steam exclusively to heat its passenger rolling stock.

1887 - The Grand Trunk Railway commences double tracking its main line between Montreal and Toronto.  The work was completed in 1903.

1888, February 24 - The 494 mile long Northern and Northwestern Railway is acquired by the GTR.

1888, June 11 - Canadian Pacific opens the "Sault Branch" from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie where connection was made not only with the American railway system but also with the CP steam ships.

1889, June 3 - The first CP train arrives in Saint John, NB from Montréal marking the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway as a coast to coast railway.

1891, September 19 - The single track St. Clair tunnel under the St. Clair River is opened by the Grand Trunk Railway. Construction had commenced in 1888 upon this tunnel which connects Sarnia with Port Huron.

1896, March 20 - The Grand Trunk Railway obtains control of the Central Vermont Railway which retained its corporate identity.

1897, September 24 - A new double track steel arch bridge is completed by the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company and the Niagara Falls International Bridge Company. The upper floor of the new structure is leased to the Grand Trunk Railway.

1898, February - The Pontiac and Pacific Junction Railway is the first in North America to light its cars with acetylene gas.

1898, March 1 - Through service commences over the Intercolonial Railway between Halifax and Montreal. This is achieved through a series of leases and running rights agreements with the Grand trunk Railway.

1898, June 29 - First through passenger train across Newfoundland leaves St. Johns at 19:20 and arrives Port aux Basques at 22:45, June 30.

1898, December 13 - First passenger train over the newly reconstructed Victoria Railway Bridge, Montreal. The original 1859 tube had been replaced by a double track steel bridge.

1899, January 13 - The Canadian Northern Railway is formed by the amalgamation of the Winnipeg Great Northern Railway and the Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal Company. William Mackenzie and Donald Mann then proceeded to expand the Canadian Northern system so that by 1915 the system comprised 9,362 miles of trackage.

1899, June 18 - The CP line from Lethbridge through the Crows Nest Pass to Kootenay Landing is opened for traffic. This was built with subsidies afforded by the Crows Nest Pass Agreement of 1897 which also set fixed rates on grain traffic.

1900, August 15 - Regular service is commenced over the 3'0" gauge White Pass and Yukon Railway between Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon.

1902, January 1 - the last spike is driven on the Ontario and Rainy River division of the Canadian Northern Railway at Atikokan, ON.

1902, October 13 - First demonstration of wireless communication between a moving train and a station.  This was on a Grand Trunk Railway special train between Chicago and Portland for the American Association of General Passenger and Ticket Agents.  While en route between Toronto and Montreal a wireless telegraphy station  was set up by Professor Ernest Rutherford of McGill University.

1903, October 24 - The National Transcontinental Railway Act is passed. In order to expand into Western Canada the Grand Trunk Railway agrees to build a line from Moncton, New Brunswick to Quebec, then on a more northerly route than on any other transcontinental line to a point on the British Columbia Coast, which was to become Prince Rupert. The part between Moncton and Winnipeg was to be known as the National Transcontinental Railway and was to be built by the government. The line west of Winnipeg, to be known as the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, was to be built by the Grand Trunk itself.

1904, July 3 - First run of  the Ocean Limited passenger train between Montreal, Que. and Halifax. N.S. This is the longest running train in Canada having operated continuously over the same 840 mile route.

1905, October 1 - The Grand Trunk assumes control of the 460 mile Canada Atlantic system by agreement dated August 15, 1904.

1905, November 24 - The Canadian Northern completes tracklaying into Edmonton.  The last spike, a silver one, was driven by the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta.

1906, July 22 - The Grand Trunk Railway changes from left to right hand running on double track sections. The change involved considerable alteration in crossovers, switches and semaphore signals.

1907, August 29 - The bridge under construction across the St. Lawrence at Quebec falls killing 75 men.

1908, May 17 - Electric operation begins through the St. Clair Tunnel between Sarnia and Port Huron.  This ended steam operation which had asphyxiated several crew members. A formal inspection and opening ceremony took place on November 12.

1909, March 17 - A train runs out of control into the Canadian Pacific Windsor Street station in Montreal. (track 7)  A broken spring hanger on locomotive no. 2102 caused it to lurch and a driving wheel struck a washout plug.  The escaping steam scalded the crew who were forced off the locomotive.  The train brake was applied by a brakeman but it hit the stop blocks at around 25 mph.  There were six fatalities.

1909, June 22 - Canadian Pacific completes the viaduct on the Crows Nest Pass Line at Lethbridge, 5,327 feet long and with a maximum height of 314 feet above Oldman River. This is the highest railway bridge in Canada.  The bridge was opened to traffic on 3 November 1909 although it had been used by construction trains before this. The bridge was illuminated to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

1909, August - Canadian Pacific completes the Kicking Horse grade relocation on the main line between Hector and Field, B.C. by substituting two spiral tunnels and lengthened line on a grade of 2.2% compensated, for the old "Big Hill" straight grade of 4.5%.

1909, October 17 - first passenger train is operated over the National Transcontinental Railway east of Quebec City between Edmundston and Baker Lake, NB.

1910 - The last remaining broad gauge (5'6") line in North America, the Carillon and Grenville Railway, is abandoned. It was a portage railway opened on October 25, 1854. The railway lay idle from late 1910 until July 25, 1911 when it was bought by the Canadian Northern Railway as part of its new Montreal to Ottawa line.

1912, May 6 - the body of C.M. Hays, President of the Grand Trunk and Grand Trunk Pacific Railways, who was lost in the Titanic disaster, was landed at Halifax by the Mackay-Bennett cable steamship Minia.  It was immediately placed on a special GTR train which had been waiting at halifax for several days and which reached Bonaventure station in Montreal May 7. The funeral took place the next day at Mount Royal Cemetary and the GTR offices were closed for a portion of the afternoon so that staff could attend.

1912 - Canadian Pacific leases the following companies:

Dominion Atlantic Railway Company, Nova Scotia, on January 3.
Quebec Central Railway Company, Quebec, on December 14.
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Company, Vancouver Island, on July 1.
1913, June 2 - first train runs across the Canadian Pacific high level bridge between Edmonton and South Edmonton.

1914, January 1 - The first part of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway is opened for service between North Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay, 12 miles.

1914, January 1 - The last spike is driven in the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway line from Montreal to Port Arthur at Little White Otter River, about 400 km east of Port Arthur.

1914, April 7 - Grand Trunk Pacific Railway main line is completed between Winnipeg, Melville, Edmonton, Jasper and Prince Rupert.  The last spike was driven at a location 93 miles west of Prince George, BC.  The first sod was turned at Fort William, on the Lake Superior branch, by Sir Wilfred Laurier on 11 September 1904.

1914, October 13 - The Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway is opened throughout between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ont. Construction was started in 1899 and it was opened in stages as follows:

Hawk Junction (junction with the Michipicoten Branch) - 1911.
Franz, (crossing with CP) - mid 1912.
Oba (crossing with CN) - late 1912.
The name was shortened to Algoma Central in 1965. <> 1914, December - The Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway is opened to service the aqueduct between Winnipeg, Man and Shoal Lake, Ont.

1915, January 23 - An unofficial last spike ceremony at Basque, BC commemorates the completion of the Canadian Northern Railway transcontinental main line from Vancouver to Quebec via Edmonton, North Battleford, Dauphin, Winnipeg, Fort Frances, Capreol, Ottawa, Hawkesbury and Montreal.  Full operation was not commenced until early 1916.

1915, May 1 - Canadian Government Railways are formed to operate the Intercolonial and the National Transcontinental Railways.

1915, June 1 - The National Transcontinental Railway is completed between Moncton and Winnipeg via Edmundston, Quebec and Senneterre. Because of the high cost, the Grand Trunk refused to lease the line which was operated from May 1, 1915 as a component of the Canadian Government Railways until the formation of the Canadian National System.

1915, September 14 - a special funeral train conveys the body of Sir William C. Van Horne from Windsor Street station, Montreal, to Joliette, Illinois.  Departing at 11:00, it was hauled by 4-6-2 No. 2213.  Nearly a mile of drapery was used in decorating the train and the front of the CPR station and office building.

1916, March 1 - the Grand Trunk Railway Bonaventure Station in Montreal is destroyed by fire.

1916, July 31 - through service commences on the CPR Kettle Valley line between Nelson and Vancouver, BC., the first regular passenger train having run between Midway and Merritt on 31 May 1915.

1916, September 11 - The bridge under construction across the St. Lawrence at Quebec falls a second time, killing another 13 men.

1916, December 9 - Canadian Pacific inaugurates the 5-mile Connaught Tunnel which eliminated the old route over Rogers Pass and shortened the line through the Selkirk Mountains by 4 1/2 miles.

1916, December 19 - an order in council gives authority for the shipment of rails and fastenings from Canadian railways to France for war service.  Under this and and a subsequent order, some 800 miles were taken up from sidings and divisional yards of the eastern division of the National Transcontinental Railway (98.2 miles from between Moncton and Diamond Jct.; 11.8 miles east of Levis; 206.6 miles from between Quebec and Winnipeg) and a further 300 miles from the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, partly from the portion of line running through the Yellowhead Pass which closely paralleled the Canadian Northern Railway.

1917, May 2 - The Drayton-Acworth report is produced being the findings of two out of three members of a Royal Commission which was set up in 1916. Sir Henry L. Drayton was Chairman of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada while William Ackworth came from London. The third member, who produced a minority report, was Alfred H. Smith, President of the New York Central Railway. The report recommends that the Government take over the Grand Trunk, the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Canadian Northern companies and operate them as one system together with the Intercolonial and the National Transcontinental Railway. The recommendations are accepted by the Government.

1917, October 17 - First train over the Quebec Bridge over the St. Lawrence. This was constructed by the Dominion Government for use by the National Transcontinental Railway. This bridge was notorious in that it fell down twice during construction:

    On August 29, 1907 the south cantilever arm collapsed killing 65 or more workmen.
    On September 10, 1916 the suspension span, which was being lifted, buckled and fell into the river killing 10 - 12 workmen.
1917, October 23 - The Canadian Railway War Board holds its first meeting in the Canadian Pacific Boardroom in Windsor Station, Montreal. The name was changed to the Railway Association of Canada in 1919. The RAC represents the interests of all railways operating in Canada.

1918, October 21 - The Mount Royal Tunnel, Montreal, is opened for regular traffic by the Canadian Northern Railway which commences a through service between Montreal and Toronto via Hawkesbury and Ottawa.  The first east bound train left Toronto at 23:00 on October 20 and the first westbound left Montreal at 08:15 on October 21.

1918, November 20 - By order in Council P.C. 2854 the management of the Canadian Government Railways is entrusted to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Northern Railway Co. On the same day the Government takes over the Canadian Northern Railway and appoints a new Board of Directors.

1918, December 20 - The use of the collective title "Canadian National Railways" is authorized by order in council P.C. 3122.

1919, March 7 - The Minister of Railways is appointed as receiver for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.

1919, June 6 - Canadian National Railway Company is incorporated. 

1919, August 25 - a Canadian Pacific special train conveys the Prince of Wales from Montreal to Toronto returning to Montreal over the same route on 2 November 1919.  Locomotives 2225 and 2231 were used.  The Prince ran the locomotive from Flavelle to Trenton (20.9 miles) on the return trip.

1920, March 8 - The management of the Grand Trunk Pacific is entrusted to the Board of Directors appointed for the Canadian National Railways.

1921, September 1 - The Toronto Transit Commission takes over the street car system in that city upon the expiration of the 30 year franchise of the Toronto Railway.

1922, October 4 - The Canadian National Railway Company becomes a corporate entity (order in council P.C. 2094).

1923, January 19 - The Grand Trunk Railway is amalgamated into the Canadian National System by order in council P.C. 114. By 1923 the system included the Canadian Government Railways (including the Intercolonial, the Prince Edward Island and the National Transcontinental Railways); the Hudson Bay Railway; the Canadian Northern and its subsidiaries; the Grand Trunk Pacific; and the Grand Trunk (including the Grand Trunk Western and the Grand Trunk New England lines).

1923, June 1 - in part to keep passengers entertained on cross-country trips, Canadian National Railways announces the formation of a Radio Department.  The Radio Department will eventually become the CBC Radio and TTelevision Netweok.

1924, September 15 - Canadian National opens the 30.66 mile Long Lake Cut off from Long Lake to Nakina, Ontario.  It connected the former Canadian Northern and National Transcontinental lines.

1925, November 1-4 - Canadian National diesel electric car No. 15280 maks a run from Montreal to Vancouver in a total elapsed time of 72 hours and an actual running time of 67 hours 7 minutes. World records were set for endurance, economy and sustained speed.

1925, November 7 - The bridge across the Second Narrows, Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, BC, is opened.

1927, August 6 - The third Toronto Union Station is opened officially by Edward, Prince of Wales. It was opened to the public on August 11, but passengers had to walk across to the old station tracks. The first day on which trains used the new, elevated, tracks through the new station platform was January 31, 1930.

1927, October - A report prepared by Frederick Palmer of London recommends that Churchill should be selected as the terminal port for the Hudson Bay Railway. As a result, the work previously carried out at Port Nelson is abandoned in favour of Churchill.

1928, September 22 - the last spike is driven by Premier John Bracken on the Canadian National line between Flin Flon and Cranberry Portage.  The line had been built in record time by the Dominion Construction Company under its President, Harry Falconer McLean.

1929, June 26 - The following railways are jointly acquired by Canadian National and Canadian Pacific and operated under a newly incorporated company, the Northern Alberta Railways:

Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway (447 miles)
Alberta & Great Waterways Railway (286 miles)
Central Canada Railway (98 miles)
Pembina Valley Railway (26 miles)
A total of 857 miles.

1929, August 26 - Canadian National Railways place in service, hauling the second section of the "International Limited" between Montreal and Toronto, the first road diesel electric passenger locomotive. This locomotive, no. 9000, consisted of two units, weighing a total of 335 tons.

1929, September 28 - The Hudson Bay Railway reaches its northern terminus at Churchill, Manitoba. This was originally operated by Canadian National on behalf of the Government. It became part of the CN system on September 5, 1951.

1930, June 19 - Canadian Pacific Hudson (4-6-4) No. 2808 makes a record continuous run from Fort William to Calgary, 1,251 miles and return with the Toronto to Vancouver train.  It left at 08:20 on June 19, arrived in Calgary at 07:00 June 21. It returned from Calgary at 14:50 on June 22 and arrived Fort William at 05:35 June 24.

1930, September 29 - The final section of the 3'6" gauge railway on Prince Edward Island is converted to standard gauge. The conversion work on the island had started in 1919.

1931, June 1 - Coincident with the first docking of the Empress of Britain,CP opens a line through a tunnel under the Plains of Abraham to the Wolfe's Cove Harbour Terminal in Quebec City.  The first shot was fired on 5 April 1930, the break through was made on 16 February 1931, and the first train, locomtive and 13 cars carrying railway officials, ran through on 26 May 1931.

1932, July 15 - The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway is opened throughout between North Bay and Moosonee, Ont. Construction was started on May 10, 1902. The name was subsequently changed to Ontario Northland Transportation.

1933, April 2 - Canadian National and Canadian Pacific pool certain passenger services as a result of the Canadian National Canadian Pacific Act, 1933.

1933, April 21 - London, Midland and Scottish Railway (UK) 4-6-0 steam locomotive Royal Scot arrives in Montreal with eight passenger cars en route to the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago.  It was exhibited at the following cities (numbers in brackets show numbers of visitors).

May 1 - Montreal Windsor Station (16,979);  May 2 - Ottawa (11,870); May 3-4 - Toronto Exhibition Grounds (20,687); May 4 - Hamilton (3,631).
The train then ran via the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway through US cities to Chicago.  After the exhibition, it left Chicago October 11 and ran via the US to Vancouver:
Oct 27 - Vancouver (19,885); Oct 29 - Kamloops; Oct 30 - Calgary (16,000); Oct 31 - Moose Jaw; Oct 31 - Regina (6,986); Nov. 1 - Winnipeg (22,900).From Winnipeg the train ran via Minneapolis and Detroit.
Nov 7 - London; Nov 8 - Stratford; Nov 8 -Guelph; Nov 9 - Toronto; Nov 10 - Port Hope; Nov 10 - Belleville; Nov 11 - Kingston; Nov 11 - Brockville; Nov 12 - Montreal.
The train ran via CP on the outward trip and in western Canada and on CN on the return leg in Ontario.  It returned to the UK from Montreal on Nov 24.

1933, November 9 - Canadian National opens the line to Lynn Lake, Manitoba.

1936, 15 August - 22 people are killed and 14 injured in an accident at a grade crossing at Louiseville, QC.  A truck carrying a large number of men and boys was hit by a CP freight train and caught fire. This is the most serious crossing accident in Canada.

1936, December 6 - Canadian National opens its line between Senneterre and Val D'Or, Quebec.

1937, September 18 - On test a new lightweight streamlined passenger train attains an officially recorded speed of 112½ mph on the Canadian Pacific Winchester Subdivision near St. Telesphore, Quebec, with 4-4-4 locomotive no. 3003.

1937, December - Canadian Pacific takes delivery of its first diesel electric locomotive, a switching unit numbered 7000.

1938, December 3 - Canadian national opens its line between Val D'Or and Rouyn Noranda, Quebec.

1939, May 17 - Royal Tour of Canada commences with the arrival of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Wolfe's Cove, Quebec on the Empress of Canada.  The 12 car train, (five from CP, five from CN and the two vice-regal cars), in royal blue and aluminum, left Quebec City on May 18.  A pilot train, carrying officials and the press, preceeded the royal train by one hour and no other trains were permitted to travel within this period.  The travel arrangements were shared by the two railways with CP being responsible for the westward journey to Victoria.  CP used 4-6-4 locomotives 2850 and 2851 for the royal and pilot trains respectively, except for the Ottawa to Brighton, Ont, section, which was over CN track.  2850 hauled the royal train without change right through to Vancouver, a total distance of 3224 miles.  Royal crowns were affixed to the running boards of both locomotives and these were eventually fitted to the entire class (2820-2864) which, following approval from their majesties, came to be known as Royal Hudsons.

Full details are shown in Branchline, June 1999.

1941, May 22 - as part of the war effort, the first tank (Mark III) is produced at the Canadian Pacific Angus Shops, Montreal.  On June 30 Montreal Locomotive Works produced the first M-3 (Modified) Cruiser tank.

1943, July 14 - Central Station, Montreal is opened by Canadian National.  This completed a project originally begun in 1929.

1944, August - Canadian National commences tests, in the Montreal Terminal, with two way radio for the transmission of instructions to locomotive and switching crews.

1945, July 16 - Canadian National opens the high ore dock at Port Arthur whch was built to handle ore from the Steep Rock Iron Mines near Atikokan, ON.  The first shipment left the dock on July 20 on the vessel Marquette.

1947, September 1-6 - the General Motors Train of Tomorrow is shown at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

1949 - Canadian Pacific accepts its last new steam locomotive (in March) class T-l-c 2-10-4 no. 5935 from Montreal Locomotive Works, and acquires its first road diesel-electric locomotives nos. 8400-8404 (in September) for conversion of motive power on the Montreal-Newport-Wells River line.

1949, April 1 - Newfoundland becomes the tenth province of Canada and the Newfoundland Railway becomes part of the Canadian National system. This narrow gauge system had been operated by the island government since 1923.

1949, September - October - The General Motors Train of Tomorrow makes a return visit to Canada as follows:

London, Sept. 22-24; Ottawa, Sept. 26-28; Montreal, Sept. 30-Oct.4; Quebec, Oct.6-8; Sherbrooke, Oct. 9-10; Oshawa, Oct. 12-13; Toronto, Oct. 14-15, 17-19; Hamilton, Oct. 20-22; St. Catharines, Oct. 24-5; Stratford, Oct.26; Chatham, Oct. 27; Windsor, Oct. 28-9.

1950, February 10 - The Temiscouata Railway is entrusted to Canadian National. This line, which was opened throughout on October 1, 1891, ran from Rivière du Loup to Edmundston and from Edmundston to Connors.

1950, July 6 - Canadian Pacific opens the first retarder hump yard in Canada at St. Luc, Montreal.

1950, August 11 - General Motors opens its plant at London, ON, for the building of diesel electric locomotives.

1950, August 22 - The railway system is paralyzed by a nationwide railway strike.  Services were resumed on August 31.

1950, November 21 - a head-on collision between a troop train  (passenger extra 3538) and train 2 at Canoe River, west of Jasper on the Canadian National main line, kills 17 servicemen and 4 railroaders.  It was caused by a dispatcher error.

1951, February 9 - The Royal Commission on Transportation, the Turgeon Commission produces its report, it was tabled in the House of Commons on March 15.

1951, February 16 - Canadian National begins testing a Budd model RDC-1 self propelled diesel rail car (between Montreal and Ottawa).

1951, June 1 - Canadian Pacific discontinues rail service to Place Viger station, Montreal.

1951, August 26 - Canadian railways adopt the Uniform Code of Operating Rules for train operation purposes.

1951, October 26 - Canadian National purchases the 26 mile Montmorency division of the Quebec Railway Light and Power Company running from Quebec City east to St. Joachim on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river.  Transfer of ownership was effective November 1.  In 1947 Canadian National had purchased the five mile section from St. Joachim to Cap Tormentine.

1952, February - The Canadian National, tunnel station, Lagauchetiere Street, Montreal, is demolished to provide space for the laying of additional tracks in Central Station.

1952, November - The Canadian National Bonaventure Station, Montreal is demolished.

1952, December 1 - Canadian Pacific launches an intermodal freight system by carrying truck trailers on railway flat cars between Toronto and Montreal.

1953, February 1 - Canadian Pacific places in trial service a Budd built RDC self propelled car on the Montreal - Mont Laurier service.

1953, April - Canadian National inaugurates its Museum Train with three steam locomotives and six cars.

1953, November 9 - Canadian National opens its line between Lynn Lake and Sherridon, MB.

1953 - Budd-built rail diesel cars (RDC) are introduced on several Canadian runs. These are called "Railiners" by CN and "Dayliners" by CP.  Service on Canadian Pacific was introduced November 9.

1954, February 13 - The Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway is opened between Sept Isles, Que. and Schefferville, Labrador, construction having commenced in 1950.  The first train load (60 cars) of iron ore arrived at Sept Isles on June 24.

1954, March 30 - Toronto Transit Commission opens the first part of the Toronto subway, the first subway in Canada.

1954, October 16 - Hurricane hazel devastates parts of southern Ontario.  A just north of Port Elgin, train 179, engine 1319, hit a washout, plunging three cars into a ditch and miring others in mud. Stewart Nicholson, a Canadian National Railway (CNR) fireman died from burns and other injuries as the locomotive overturned. Engineer Gordon McCallum and Mrs. William Whittaker were injured in the crash. McCallum would later die from his injuries.

1954, December - Canadian Pacific opens a branch line from Havelock to Nephton, ON to serve the American Nepheline Co. mine.

1955, January 13 - Canadian National opens its line from Terrace to Kitimat, BC.  The line was opened officially on July 8 with a "last spike" ceremony, the spike was made from aluminium produced at the Kitimat plant.

1955, April 25 - Canadian Pacific inaugurates its new stainless steel, scenic-domed transcontinental passenger train "The Canadian" between Montreal/Toronto and Vancouver.

1955, May 14 - A causeway is completed across the Strait of Canso between Cape Porcupine and Balache Point, Nova Scotia. This involved a 14 mile main line diversion for the rerouting of railway traffic linking directly Cape Breton Island with the mainland. Previous movements were by car ferry across the Strait of Canso.  The line was officially opened on August 13.

1955, July 27 - Canadian National opens a branch line from Hillsport to Manitowadge, ON.

1955, October 19 - Canadian Pacific opens a branch line from Struthers to Manitowadge, ON.

1956, June 11 - The Pacific Great Eastern Railway opens between North Vancouver and Prince George, BC.   A formal opening ceremony took place on August 27.

1957, January 2, noon - Canadian Pacific locomotive firemen commence a strike which shuts down the railway.  This was ended by an act of Parliament on the evening of Friday, January 11th.

1957, May 17 - Canadian National opens a 40 mile diversion of its Montréal to Toronto main line between Cornwall and Cardinal This was required in the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The last train ran over the original route on July 20, 1957.

1957, June 24 - Last steam run on the Ontario Northland Railway, no. 701 leaves Timmins and arrives at North bay the following day.

1957, October 7 - Canadian National opens its line from Beattyville to Chibougamau, QC.

1957, November 19 - Canadian National opens its line from Bartibog to Heath Steele, NB.

1958, February 4 - The Kellog Commission produces its report on the use of firemen on diesel locomotives.

1958, May 12 - a partial strike by Canadian Pacific Railway firemen commences.  Picket lines were not honored by other unions and it fizz;ed out within three days.

1958, July 25 - Pacific Great Eastern on its line to Fort St. John, BC.  Construction on the line to Dawson Creek was completed a few weeks later.

1958, August 9 - Canada's longest running named train "Moccasin" (trains 25 and 26) ceases running between Montreal and Brockville.  Although unofficial, it had been used almost since the train service went into operation on November 19, 1855.

1959, August 30 - Last streetcar runs in Montreal.

1959, October 28 - Canadian National opens its line from St. Felicien to Chibougamau, QC.

1959, November 5 - Canadian National opens a new international marshalling yard at Sarnia, ON.

1960, January 20 - The Quebec Cartier Mining Company commences operation from Port Cartier to Gagnon, QC.  At the time it was the northernmost railway in Canada.  The line went into full operation at the end of the year.

1960, April 25 - Locomotive number 6043 makes the last scheduled run of a steam locomotive on Canadian National on train 76 between The Pas and Winnipeg.

1960, May 2 - For the first time, a Canadian National passenger train conveys piggyback flatcars conveying highway trailers.  This was on train 44 from Saint John, NB to Moncton, NB.

1960, September 6 - The last spike is driven on the Canadian National line between Optic and Chisel Lake, MB.  It was extended to Stall Lake on 31 January, 1964.

1960, October 4 - Canadian National opens its hump yard at Moncton, NB.

1960, November 6 - The last steam locomotive to operate officially on Canadian Pacific pulls a special train to St. Lin from Montreal. Locomotive is class A-l-e no. 29, 4-4-0 built in 1887.

1961, March - The Royal Commission on Transportation, the MacPherson Commission, publishes its report. These recommendations lead to the National Transportation Act of 1967.

1961, May 11 - Canadian National installs Canada's first hot axle box detector near Coteau, QC.

1961, June 4 - Canadian National Turcot Yard closes.  The 56 stall roundhouse was closed the following year.

1961, September 13 - Canadian National officially opens Taschereau Hump Marshalling Yard in Montreal.

1962, July 17 - Following testing on the "Ocean", Canadian National's transcontinental train, the Super Continental, appears for the first time in the new black and white colour scheme, with orange-red locomotive fronts.  This ultimately replaced the traditional olive green, gold and black design.

1962, September - Canadian National opens Symington marshalling yard, Winnipeg, MB.

1963, October 16 - Canadian National opens a branch line to Mattagami Lake Mines.

1964, May 24 - Canadian National commences operation of a new transcontinental passenger train called Panorama.

1964, June 16 - Canadian Pacific opens a new automated hump marshalling yard at Agincourt, Toronto, ON.

1964, November 24- The Great Slave Lake Railway, operated by Canadian National is opened for traffic from Pine Point, Northwest Territories, to Roma Junction, Alberta. The open for carriage order is not issued by the Canadian Transport Commission until 7 July, 1967.

1964, November 25 - Canadian National opens a new technical research centre in Ville St. Laurent, Montreal, QC.

1964, December - Canadian National opens a new freight and passenger terminal in Saskatoon which permits redevelopment of the city centre.

1965, May 17 - Canadian National officially opens its Macmillan marshalling yard, Toronto.

1965, October 30 - The Canadian National-Canadian Pacific passenger pool train arrangement is terminated.

1965, October 31 - Canadian National introduces "Rapido" passenger service between Montreal and Toronto. This was extended to Quebec in the following year.

1966, October 7 - 19 people are killed when a train hits a school bus at a grade crossing in Dorion, Quebec.

1966, October 17 - first day of operation of the Montreal subway operated by la Commission de Transports de la Communauté Urbaine de Montréal.  In 1985 the company became the Société de Transport de la Communauté Urbaine de Montréal (STCUM).

1967, May 23 - "GO Transit" is inaugurated by the Province of Ontario between Pickering, Toronto, Oakville and Hamilton under an operating agreement with Canadian National.

1967, July 11 - The first major "unit train" movement in Canada is inaugurated by Canadian Pacific - 3,700 tons of sulphuric acid from the Copper Cliff plant of CIL nr. Sudbury to Sarnia, Ontario.

1967, November 16 - Canadian Pacific begins testing Canada's first remote-controlled mid-train diesel locomotives in regular freight service, using new "Robot" radio-command system.

1968 - Canadian National introduces the "Tempo" service between Toronto-Windsor-Sarnia using new light-weight cars.

1968, December 10 - the Turbo train is placed in limited service between Montreal and Toronto, but because of technical problems the service is suspended on January 9, 1969.  On the initial press run, the Montreal-bound train hit a truckload of frozen meat just west of Kingston.

1969, July 2 - Canadian National discontinues Newfoundland passenger trains 101-102.

1970, April 21 - Canadian Pacific unveils Canada's first double-deck passenger train comprising nine air-conditioned cars built by Canadian Vickers Limited at a cost of $2.8 million. The cars went into operation April 27 on the Montreal Lakeshore suburban service.

1970, April 30 - The first CP coal unit train, comprising 88 cars and carrying more than 9,000 tons of coking coal destined to Japan, arrives at Roberts Bank superport after a 700-mile run from Sparwood, B.C.  On May 4, the first shipment 24,289 tons ofcoal, departed on the "Snow White" for Japan.

1970, May 25 - Regular Turbo train operation is resumed between Montreal and Toronto.  It was withdrawn on February 1, 1971.

1971, September 10 - Pacific Great Eastern Railway extension from Fort St. John to Fort Nelson, B.C. is opened for traffic.

1972, April 1 - Pacific Great Eastern Railway changes its name to British Columbia Railway.

1972, May 31- the last day of the Morse code in Canadian railroading. Canadian National sent its last message at 12:38 pm, just 25 1/2 hours before Canadian Pacific tapped out its last telegram.

1972, October 16 - The Commission of Inquiry in the Matter of the Employment Practices Relating to the Running-Trades' Employees in the Railway Industry, the Gallagher Commission publishes its report. This looked at the employment practices, particularly hours of work.

1973, July 20 - a former Canadian National Turbo train is sidewsiped by a freight train at Ballantyne, QC.  It had been sold to Amtrak and was painted in Amtrak colours, units 54 and 55.  Three cars were destroyed.

1973, December 17 - the reconfigured Turbo train is quietly resumed between Montreal and Toronto, it was officially started on January 10, 1974.

1974, March 17 - A CP Rail freight train hits a rock slide and derails at Spences Bridge, BC killing two crew members. This lead to the eventual installation of ditch lights on Canadian trains.

1974, August 6 - Turbo train service commences between Montreal and Ottawa.  This was withdrawn on September 24, 1975.

1975, July 23 - Canadian National reroutes the Kngston subdivision between mile 172.32 and mile 173.37 in Kingston, eliminating a sharp curve through the old station.

1976, March 10 - the Alcan-Dofasco-MLW consortium's LRC train achieves a speed of 129 mph/208 kmph on a test run on CP Rail between St. Jean and Delson, QC

1976, April 22 - the Turbo train achieves a speed of  140.6 mph/226.2 kph near Morrisburg, Ontario on the Canadian National Kingston subdivision, a Canadian rail speed record which holds to this day.

1976, October - The Commission on the Costs of Transporting Grain by Rail, the Snavely Commission produces its report.

1977, January 12 - Via Rail Canada is incorporated to operate inter-city passenger rail service.

1977, April 18 - The Hall Commission Report on Grain Handling and Transportation is published. This recommends limited branch line abandonment on the prairies.

1977, May 28 - The Ontario Northland Railway begins to operate two of four used TEE (Trans-Europ Express) train sets purchased from the Swiss and Dutch Railways.  The ONR called them "The Northlander" and  used them on daytime service between Toronto and Timmins.

1978, March 13 - GO introduces its first bi-level coaches.

1978, March 19 - First run of the Inukshuk Express which runs between  Hay River and Pine Point for the duration of the 1978 Arctic Winter Games.  This was the first passenger train to run into the Northwest Territories.

1979, November 10 - CP Rail no. 54 suffers a hot axle box and derails 24 cars containing dangerous commodities, in Mississaugua, Ont. Almost a quarter of a million people were evacuated for periods of up to five days. The Grange Commission report on the acident is published in December, 1980.

1980, July 4 - Canadian Pacific sells its 50% interest in the Northern Alberta Railways to Canadian National.  

1981, July 7 - VIA Rail Canada takes delivery of its first LRC train set in a ceremony at Windsor station, Montreal.

1981, November 14 - VIA cuts nearly 20% of its services.

1982, October 31 - last revenue run of the Turbo train.

1983, November 2 - BC Rail begins operating the Tumbler Ridge line, Canada's first railway electrified at 50kv AC.

1983, Christmas - VIA Rail Canada discontinues the 25 year tradition of making plum puddings available on VIA trains at Christmas time.  Sales had dropped from 50,000 to less than 5,000 per year.

1984, September 10 - the Pope travels by special train between Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre and Montreal, Windsor Station.  LRC-3 locomotives nos. 6927 and 6922, elephant style, were on the nose and no. 6921 was on the rear.  LRC-2 locomotives nos. 6907 and 6915 handled the train for the media.

1985, March 22 - Toronto Transit Commission opens the Scarborough rapid transit line using linear induction technology.

1985, April 30 - CN and CP take over the Canada Southern (Michigan Central/New York Central/Penn Central/Conrail) line through southern Ontario.

1985, November 8 - downtown passenger service to Quebec is restored with the reopening of Palais station.

1986, January 1 - Canadian Pacific takes over the Vancouver and Lulu Island Railway in Vancouver.

1986, January 3 - The Skytrain commences operation between Vancouver, Waterfront and New Westminster, BC.

additional routes have been added as follows:
Expo Line
1989, February 14 - New Westminster to Columbia.
1990, March 6 - Columbia to Scott Road.
1994, March 28 - Scott Road to King George.
Millennium Line
2002, January 5 - Columbus to Braid.
2002, August 31 - Braid to Commercial Road.

1986, February 8 - A head on collision between a freight train and a passenger train near Hinton, Alberta claims 23 lives.

1986 - The Central Western Railway commences operation by acquiring the CN Stettler subdivision in Alberta.

1986, December - The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Hinton Train Collision, the Foisy Report is published.

1988, August - The shipment of cattle by rail in Canada ceases with the closure of Winnipeg Union Stockyards.

1988, October - The last part of the railway on Newfoundland, operated by CN Rail, is abandoned.

1988, December 12 - First revenue train runs through the CP Rail 9.1 mile Mount MacDonald Tunnel. This is the longest rail tunnel in the Americas.  An official inaugural passenger train to officially open the line was run on May 3, 1989

1989, November 14 - CP Rail commences cabooseless train operations. CN Rail follows on February 1, 1990.

1989, December 31 - The last part of the railway on Prince Edward Island, operated by CN Rail, is abandoned.

1990, January 15 - VIA cuts half of its passenger network. Included in these cuts are a decision to run just one transcontinental train between Toronto and Vancouver via CN through Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Jasper.

1990, January 16 - Canadian Rail Operating Rules are approved by the Minister of Transport

1992 - The Central Western Railway expands its operation by acquiring the CP Coronation and Lacombe subdivisions in Alberta.

1992, April 3 - The Goderich Exeter Railway commences operations over the former CN line between Stratford Junction and Goderich and from Clinton Junction to Centralia in Ontario.

1993, January - The report of the National Transportation Act Review Commission, the Rivard Commission, is published.

1993, September 16 - Official sod-turning for the Canadian National Sarnia rail tunnel with the launch of the "Excalibore" tunnel boring machine.

1993, September, mid - Canadian Pacific terminates hump operations at St.Luc yard, Montreal.

1993, October 1 - The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway commences operation over the former CN line between Sydney and Truro, Nova Scotia.

1994, August 29 - The Windsor and Hantsport Railway commences operation in Nova Scotia.

1994, December 1 - the Société des chemins de fer du Québec commences operation over the former CN line from Limoilou to Clermont, Québec.

1995, January 7 - The New Brunswick Southern Railway commences operation over former CP trackage from McAdam to Saint John, N.B. with a branch from McAdam to St. Stephen.

1995, January 7 - The Algoma Central Railway is taken over by the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

1995, May 5 - Official CN opening ceremony for a new tunnel between Sarnia, Ont and Port Huron, MI. The tunnel can handle full height double stack container cars. Trains had started using the new tunnel on April 5, 1995.

1995, June 2 - last day of operation of Canadian National electric locomotives classes Z-1-a, Z-4-a and Z-5-a and EP-59a and  EP 69a electric multiple units  between Montréal Central station and Deux Montagnes.  The line is closed over the summer for modernization.

1995, October 26 - The CN commuter line between Montréal Central station and Deux Montagnes is reopened with modernized equipment. The new electric multiple unit trains, operating at 25 kv AC, replace aging equipment, some of it going back to the opening of the line in 1918.

1995, November 1 - Commuter service commences over CP Rail between Vancouver and Mission, BC.

1995, November 19 - Canadian National shares begin to trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

1996, April 1 - last train traverses the full length of the former Canada Southern line between Detroit and Buffalo.

1996, September 12 - Rocky Mountain Railtours runs the longest passenger train in Canadian history. Three GP40 locomotives hauled 34 cars from Vancouver to Kamloops.

1996, September 14 - York - Durham Heritage Railway commences operation over the former CN line between Uxbridge and Stouffville, Ont.

1996, September 28 - Iron Road Railways, under the name Quebec Southern Railway commences operation over the following former CP lines in Quebec:

    Lennoxville - St-Jean
    Brookport - Wells River (VT)
    Farnham - Ste-Rosalie Jct
    Farnham - Stanbridge
1996, October 1 - The St. Lawrence and Hudson Railway is formed by merging the CP Rail routes in southern Ontario and Quebec with its Delaware and Hudson subsidiary in northern USA. The STLH name was first used about June 1 although the legal entity was not established until October 1.

1996, October 30 - RaiLink-Ottawa Valley  takes over operation of the former CP line between Smiths Falls and Cartier, Ont as well as the Mattawa to Temiskaming branch in Quebec.

1996, November 2 - Ontario L'Orignal Railway (RailTex) commences operation over the former CN line between Glen Robertson, Hawkesbury and L'Orignal, Ont.

1996, December 1 - Chemin de fer Baie des Chaleurs, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Quebec Railway Corporation, commences operation over the former CN line beween Matapedia and Chandler, Que.

1997, June 16 - Corporation du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie takes over the former CN line between Chandler and Gaspé, Que. This is a non profit corporation owned by local municipalities. Operation of the line is sub-contracted to the Chemin de fer Baie des Chaleurs which commenced operation between Matapedia and Chandler, Que in December 1996.

1997, June 24 - Port Colborne Harbour Railway, a division of the Caledonia and Hamilton Southern Railway (Trillium Rail), starts operation between Welland and Port Colbourne on the following lines in Ontario:

    CN Port Colbourne Spur (6.6 miles).
    Macy Spur (west of the Welland Canal).
    Government Spur (off Macy Spur).
    a new 1.1 mile connection between the Port Colbourne Spur and the Macy Spur.
1997, July 12 - Waterloo - St. Jacobs Railway commences passenger service over the former CN Waterloo Spur between Waterloo and Elmira, Ont.

1997, August 20 - Hudson Bay Railway, owned by Omnitrax of Denver, Colorado, takes over the operation of the former CN lines between The Pas, Flin Flon, Lyn Lake and Churchill, Man.

1997, September 4 - RaiLink-Lakeland & Waterways takes over the former CN lines in northeastern Alberta from Boyle to Lynton, near Fort McMurray.  Agreement was reached on 2 September, operation commenced on 4 September and formal transfer took place on November 24.

1997, September 4 - Huron Central Railway, owned by Genessee Rail-One, takes over operation of the former CP line between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Ont.

1997, September 20 - RaiLink Southern Ontario takes over the operation of the former CN Hagersville subdivision between Nanticoke and Brantford including the Burford Spur.  On December 15 the company took over the former CN Northern and Northwestern Spur.

1997, November 11 - Quebec Gatineau Railway takes over operation of the former CP Trois Rivieres and Lachute subdivisions between Quebec City and Hull.

1997, December 8 - the Carlton Trail Railway (Omnitrax) takes over the operation of the following CN lines in north western Saskatchewan:

      Warman Junction to just north of Prince Albert.
      Speers Junction to Meadow Lake.
1998, January 1 - the Ontario Southland Railway takes over the operation of the Guelph Junction Railway (formerly the Goderich subdivision) which had been leased by CP from the City of Guelph since 1888.  The Ontario Southland also took over the 3.1 mile remnant of the CP owned Guelph and Goderich Railway.

1998, January 19 - the CN line bewteen Moncton, NB and Mont-Joli, Que is transferred to the Quebec Railway Corporation, through its wholly owned subsidiaries as follows:

    New Brunswick East Coast Railway between Pacific Junction, near Moncton, and Campbellton, NB.
    Matapedia Railway between Campbellton, NB and Mont-Joli, QC.
1998, May 3 - RaiLink-MacKenzie Northern takes over the operation of the CN line from Smith, AB to Hay River, NWT.

1998, October 1 - Southern Rails Cooperative takes over operation of CN Avonlea subdivision from Avonlea to Moose Jaw, SK.

1998, November 2 - Quebec Gatineau Railway commences operation over the CN Montfort Spur between Mirabel and Saint-Jerome, QC.  Access to the CN network is continued through an interchange agreement between CN, OGRY and St.L&H.

1998, November 9 - St. Thomas and Eastern Railway, a division of Trillium Rail, commences operation over the fomer CN Cayuga Spur between St. Thomas and Delhi, ON.

1998, November 16 - Goderich and Exeter Railway takes over operation of the CN Guelph subdivision between London and Silver, ON.

1998, November 20 - Okanagan Valley Railway commences operation over the former CP line between Sicamous and Kelowna, BC (including running rights over the CN between Vernon and Kelowna).  The formal handing over ceremony took place on January 15, 1999.

1998, December 1 - St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad (Quebec) commences operation over the CN Sherbrooke subdivision between St. Rosalie, QC and Norton, VT.

1998, December 13 - Ottawa Central Railway, a subsidiary of RailLink's Quebec Railway Corporation, commences operation over the CN Beachburg subdivision between Ottawa and Pembroke, ON as well as the Walkley line in Ottawa.  The Ottawa Central also received running rights over the Alexandria subdivision between Ottawa and Coteau.

1999, January 8 - RailAmerica Inc. takes over the operation of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway from CP. The new company, known as E&N Railway Company (1998) Ltd, purchased the line between Port Alberni and Nanaimo and leased the section from Victoria to Nanaimo.

1999, Feburary 14 - Quebec Railway Corporation takes over the former CN Mont Joli and Matane subdivisions linking Matane to Riviere du Loup, QC.  The Matane sub. was the former Canada and Gulf Terminal Railway.

1999, February 26 - Ontario Southland commenced operation over the CP Port Burwell subdivision from Ingersoll
 to Tillsonburg, ON.

1999, March 22 - RaiLink Ltd.takes over operation of the CN Coronado, Bonnyville, and Lac La Biche subdivisions,  northeast of Edmonton. The line extends from St. Paul Junction, immediately north of Edmonton, to Boyle and northeast to Grande Centre and Elk Point. It also connects with RaiLink's existing Lakeland and Waterways line at Boyle.

1999, May 2 - Central Manitoba Railway takes over the operation of the former CN Pine Falls subdivisions.

1999, June 6 - Central Manitoba Railway, a subsidiary of Cando Contracting, takes over the operation of the former CN Carman sub. from m. 0.13 to m. 50.50.

1999, June 27 - Alberta RailNet takes over the former CN Grande Cache (from Swan Landing to Grande Prairie, m. 1.80 to m. 232.90), Grande Prairie (from Rycroft to Hythe, m. 0 to m. 89.19) and Smoky (Tangent to Spirit River, m. 306.2 to m. 357.80) subdivisions in Alberta.

1999, June 30 - Southern Rails Cooperative (Red Coat Road and Rail) takes over operation of the 71.5 mile CP line from Pangman to Assiniboia in Saskatchewan.

1999, July - Canadian National acquires the Illinois Central Railroad.

1999, August - Manitoba Southern Railway takes over operation of the CN line from Morris to Elgin (Miami and Hartney subdivisions).

1999, September 18 - Trillium Rail takes over operation of 41 miles of industrial trackage in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula comprising sections of the Cayuga sub. and the Thorold, Canal, Grantham, Fonthill, Town Line and West Welland spurs.  The lines will be operated by a Trillium subsidiary, the Port Colborne Terminal Railway.


2000, Jume 19 - The last rail on the order books of Sysco (Sydney Steel) is rolled.

2000, June 24 - Quebec Central Railway reopens for business between Sherbrooke and Vallee Jonction. The new Quebec Central is operated by Express Marco Inc.

2000, September 29 - the Town of Orangeville, ON purchases the former CPR Owen Sound subdivision between mile 2.4 and mile 36.7.  The line is managed by Orangeville & Brampton Rail Association Group and Cando Contracting operates the line with running rights to an interchange with CPR at Streetsville.

2001, January - OmniTRAX announces the acquisition of 21.9 kilometres of line connecting the communities of Prince Abert and Birch Hills, SK.

2001, August 16 - Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 steam locomotive 2816 operates under its own power for the first time in over forty years.

2001, October 9 - Canadian National acquires the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

2001, December 12 - VIA Rail Canada retires the last of its 6900 series LRC locomotives, as a result of the delivery of 700 series General Electric Genesis locomotives.

2002, June 23 - VIA Rail Canada commences to use Renaisance equipment in the Montréal - Toronto corridor.  Service was subsequently extended to Montréal - Québec and Montréal - Ottawa on 25 November 2002.  Renaissance equipment was acquired from the United Kingdom and modified for Canadian service.

2002, summer - Canadian National starts to paint its web site address www.cn.ca, on its locomotives.

2002, September 5 - commuter train service between Montreal and Saint-Hilaire resumes after a 14 year hiatus.

2002, September 7 - a special train to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sets out from Vancouver and completed its trip in Halifax on October 5.  It included a museum car with props and puppets from kiddie shows such as Uncle Chichimus, Fraggle Rock, Chex Helene, The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup.  Another baggage car housed old microphones, cameras and artifacts from shows like Don Messer's Jubilee.  The consist of the train included:

- VIA F40PH-2 6403 leading in special CBC scheme, assisted by F40PH-2 6412.
- baggage car 8605, three "Chateau" sleepers (Denonville, Lauzon, Rigaud) and coach 8123 for on train staff.
- one Skyline Broadcast car (8502), two baggage-museum cars (8612 and 86150, one Dome-Sleeper-Observation "Banff Park for a reception area.
- flat car OTTX 93344 carrying a generator.
for the portion east of Toronto, a new set of Renaissance equipment was added to the rear.

2002, October 31 - BC Rail ends 88 years of passenger service with the last run of the Cariboo Prospector between Prince George and North Vancouver.  The next day, two 20 seat "rail shuttle vehicles" commenced to provide service to isolated communities between Lillooet and D'Arcy, BC.

2002, November 24 - Toronto Transit Commission opens the four mile Sheppard Avenue Subway.

2003, January 9 - the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Canada Company commences operations through the purchase of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad and its operating subsidiaries, the Canadian American Railroad, the Northern Vermont Railroad, the Quebec Southern Railway and the Van Buren Bridge Company. 

2003, September 25 - the Quebec Department of Transport purchases most of the historic Turcot Yard, Montreal from Canadian National for $17.8 million.

2004, July 15 - the BC Rail becomes a part of Canadian National.

2004, December 11 - the Kettle Falls International Railway, an Omnitrax subsidiary, takes over the operation of the former BNSF line from Kettle Falls to San Poil, WA and from Chewelah, WA to Columbia Gardens, BC.

2005, November 1 - Thunder Rail takes over the operation of the Arborfield, SK., subdivision from Hudson Bay Rail.

2006, January 19 - RailAmerica sells back the following Alberta short lines to Canadian National:

Central Western
Lakeland and Waterways
Mackenzie Northern

2006, January - Fife Lake Railway is opened in Saskatchewan, serving grain points at Rockglen and Coronach, SK.

2006, May 25 - Keewatin Railway commences operation over the line from Sherritt Junction to Lynn Lake, MB.

2006, May - Thunder Rail takes over the operation of the former Canadian National Arborfield subdivision between Arborfield and Crane, SK.

2006, December - Savage Alberta Railway sells its regional rail lines in the Grande Prairie, AB, area to Canadian National.

2007, October 4 - Canadian Pacific completes the acquisition of the Duluth, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad.

2007, December 24 - Canadian National  purchases the Athabasca Northern Railway from Boyle to Fort McMurray, AB.

2007, December - Torch River Rail completes the purchase of the Canadian Pacific White Fox subdivision in east-central SK. Operations commenced between Nipawin and Choiceland in July 2008.

2008, July 15 - Great Sandhills Railway announces agreement to acquire the Canadian Pacific Empress and Burstall Subdivisions and the Hazlet Spur.  Closing date targetted for 12 October 2008.

2008,  November 1 - Canadian National reaquires the Matapedia Railway, the New Brunswick East Coast Railway and the Ottawa Central Railway.

2009, March 16 -the Great Sandhills Railway makes its first run between Swift Current and Leader, SK.

2009, April 24 - Canadian Pacific ceases to use the Ottawa Valley Railway Chalk River and North Bay subdivisions for its transcontinental trains and routes all such traffic from Montreal via Toronto.

2009, April 26 - Canadian Pacific Lambton Yard in Toronto is closed.

2009, July - VIA Rail Canada engineers and yardmasters go on strike.  Trains were cancelled partially from 21 July with a full shutdown from midday 24 July. Trains began to run on 26 July and full service was resumed 27 July.

2009,  August 17 - The Canada Line opens to bring rapid rail service to Metro Vancouver's busiest north-south corridor, linking Downtown to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport.

2009,  October 8 - The Last Mountain Railway commences operation on former Canadian National trackage between Regina and Davidson, SK.

2009,  November 28 - December 2 - Canadian National locomotive engineers go on strike.  The return to work is accompanied by binding arbitration.

2009,  December 14 - the Ontario Southland Railway commences operation on the former Canadian Pacific St. Thomas subdivision in Ontario.

2009. - the Boundary Trail Railway commences operation between Binney Corner, west of Manitou, to Morden MB.

2010,  December - the Battle River Railway commences operation over the former Canadian National trackage between Camrose and Alliance in Alberta.

2011,  end August - the River Hills Railway commences operation  over the former Canadian Pacific line between Rathwell and Nesbitt in Manitoba.

2011, 22 September - the Big Sky Railway commences operation over the former Canadian National lines from near Laporte to near Macrorie and from south to north from Beechy to Delisle in Saskatchewan.

2012, May 24  - a strike by Canadian Pacific engineers, conductors and rail traffic controllers halts traffic on the CPR.   Operations resumed on 1 June after back to work legislation was passed.

2012, September 9 - a Grey Cup special exhibition train leaves Vancouver on a cross-Canada journey with stops at Jasper, Edmonton, Camrose, Red Deer, Airdrie, Calgary, Okotoks, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Minnedosa, Portage la Prairie, Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Windsor, London, Sarnia, Hamilton, Barrie and Toronto.

2012, September 28 - Ontario Northland discontinues the operation of the "Northlander" passenger train between Toronto and Cochrane.

2012, October 2 - the Long Creek Railroad opens over the former CP line between Estevan and Tribune, SK.

2013, July 6 - a 72 car train of mostly oil tanks runs away and derails at Lac Megantic, QC on the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway. The resulting explosion killed 47 people. For a detailed timeline on subsequent events see http://www.okthepk.ca/megantic.htm

Last updated in April 2014

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