"Damages" refers to the money paid to land owners, whose property was crossed by the railway right-of-way, to compensate them for the resulting reduction in value of their property. The general practice in Nova Scotia (and elsewhere) was for a new railway to negotiate an arrangement with the local governments (rural municipalities and towns) along the line, that required the local authorities to pay the local property owners for the railway's right-of-way. This was considered to be an appropriate way for the local governments to contribute to the cost of the railway, which would be of considerable benefit to them. Also, this arrangement had the big advantage, from the railway's point of view, of shifting from the railway company to someone else the responsibility for the often acrimonious negotiations with hundreds of individual landowners all the way along the right-of-way. The true legal ownership any parcel of land that had been in a family long enough to have been passed on by inheritance could be difficult to determine if there were one or more non-resident owners or (as often happened when there was no will) there was multiple shared but undivided ownership.