Grand Trunk Railway

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Grand Trunk Railway

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The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) was built to provide a main trunk line throughout the entire length of the Province of Canada. Under the sponsorship of Sir Francis Hincks, the Grand Trunk Railway was formally incorporated in 1852 to build a railway line from Toronto to Montreal. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada East was also incorporated to build a line from Quebec City to Trois Pistoles, Quebec. The GTR also purchased the newly completed St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad in 1853. Much of the financing for the Railway was to come from investors in England, and as a result, much of the construction of the new lines was done by English construction firms. The "Trunk-Line" from Montreal to Toronto opened in 1856. The railway expanded quickly, existing small railway companies were purchased, and new lines were added, some of which were destined for the United States. By 1867, the GTR was the largest railway system in the world with 2 055 km of track. By the 1880's the company had over 700 locomotives, 578 cars, 60 post-office cars, 131 baggage cars, 18 000 freight cars and 49 snow plows. The high cost of construction, absentee management (Head Office in England), and failure to generate anticipated levels of traffic left the GTR debt ridden and unable to upgrade its equipment. In October 1919, the federal government took over the GTR after a disasterous attempt to create a transcontinental railway with the creation of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The GTR and the GTPR were placed under the management of the Canadian National Railways on January 30, 1923. ( Taken from: "The Canadian Encyclopedia." Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers Ltd., 1985.)


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