Significant Dates in
Nova Scotia Railway History

(1850- 1899)

1850 July 24
Kings County Wants a Railway

"A meeting of the inhabitants of Kings County was held in the Court House at Kentville on Wednesday, 24th July, 1850 ... for the purpose of ascertaining the views of the inhabitants of said county in reference to a railroad from Halifax to Digby ... It is the opinion of this meeting that the inhabitants of this County will cheerfully furnish the land that is necessary for a Railroad passing through it; also aid with their money, labour and materials to the utmost of their ability, in shares amounting to £25,000..."

[Quoted from a report delivered at the Railroad Convention in Portland, Maine, on 31 July 1850, by the two delegates sent to represent Kings County, John Hall, MPP, and Samuel Chipman.  This Convention was attended by representatives of several States, and the Provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.]

First "Piggy-Back" Service

"Man, horse, and wagon, (not to exceed 600 pounds) would be carried from Mt. Uniacke to Halifax for fifty cents" on railway flat cars.  "As many as fourteen cars of wagons have been conveyed at one time to Halifax." This service was used mostly to carry farm produce from the Annapolis Valley to Halifax.  At this time the railway ended at Mount Uniacke.

[The quotes are from History of Railroading in the Annapolis Valley by Conductor W.W. Clark, excerpts published in the special Railway Edition of The Sunday Leader, Halifax, 4 November 1923.]

1857 December 30
First Train to Windsor

The contractor building the railway from Windsor Junction to Windsor (the track known ever since as the "Windsor Branch") ran a locomotive and one flat car from Halifax all the way to Windsor on this day.  The track was not yet adequately ballasted and levelled, but the rails were continuous along the entire distance, and, with care, the little train reached its destination, thus demonstrating that the work had reached an advanced stage, and the line was close to being finished and ready for regular traffic.

1858 June 3
Official Opening of the Railway to Windsor

On this day, Thursday, a train departed Richmond (Halifax) at 7:30 am, crowded with passengers.  This was the first train for public use, on the new Nova Scotia Railway line between Halifax and Windsor.  The train arrived on schedule at Windsor at 11:00 am, where almost the entire population was gathered at the station to see this important event.  The train departed Windsor on the return trip at 3:00 pm, and arrived at Richmond at 6:00.  To celebrate the opening of the Windsor Branch, the following Tuesday, June 8th, was declared a public holiday in Halifax by the Lieutenant Governor, His Excellency Sir Gaspard le Marchant, the Earl of Mulgrave; all shops and offices were closed to enable the population to celebrate.  As Marguerite Woodworth described it, "At 5:30 am the people were aroused by a 'merry peal from all chirch bells'; at 6:30 am any laggards were reminded of the occasion by a royal salute of 109 guns by the Royal Artillery from the Grand Parade; at 10:00 am there was a 'Grand review of the Troops, ending with a Sham Fight' on the Common; a yacht race took place at 1:00 pm, and the ceremonies ended with a grand ball at Government House." During the remainder of 1858, the trains between Halifax and Windsor carried 11,324 first class and 6,927 second class passengers; passenger revenue was £7,584 17s 1p.  The second class fare was two cents per mile.  Income from freight (which included 189,465 board feet of lumber) totalled £2,550 5s 11p, and horse and wagon traffic provided revenue of £1,466 5s 4p.

[Excerpted from History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, by Marguerite Woodworth, 1936.]

1858 December 15
Official Opening of the Railway to Truro

The new railway line between Halifax and Truro was officially opened for traffic on this day.

1860 April 2
Two Round Trips Each Day

On and after April 2nd, 1860, passengers could travel between Windsor and Halifax, on the Nova Scotia Railway, twice a day.  The morning westbound train departed Richmond (north Halifax) at 8:00 am and arrived in Windsor at 11:00 am; the morning eastbound train departed Windsor at 8:20 am and arrived in Richmond at 11:15 am.  These two trains crossed (passed each other) at Mount Uniacke; this was (and is) a single-track line, and trains going in opposite directions could (and can) pass each other only where a siding is available.  The afternoon westbound train departed Richmond (Halifax) at 2:30 pm and arrived in Windsor at 5:30 pm; the afternoon eastbound train departed Windsor at 3:00 pm and arrived in Richmond at 6:00 pm; these two trains also crossed (passed each other) at Mount Uniacke.  The end-to-end fare, one way, was $1.35 first class, and 87½ cents second class.  A resident of Windsor could now go to Halifax in the morning, have a clear three hours in the city to conduct business or filfill appointments, and return to Windsor the same day.  A resident of Halifax could travel to Windsor in the morning, have nearly four hours to conduct business there, and return to the city the same day.

1860 August 2
Special Royal Train on the Nova Scotia Railway

The Prince of Wales travelled to Windsor on a special train from Halifax.  Windsor was, at that time, the end of the railway track westward from Halifax, there being no bridge across the Avon River that could sustain the weight of a locomotive.  Prince Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria and later King Edward VII, was travelling to Windsor to make a speech at Kings College.  The royal party left Government House on Hollis Street, and rode in carriages to Richmond (north Halifax), where at 7:00 am the special train departed for Windsor.  At Windsor they were met by a guard of honour made up of two Halifax regiments who had been brought to Windsor in a train that departed the city at 3:00 am, four hours ahead of the royal train.  During the period of the royal visit, there were no second class passengers on the Nova Scotia Railway – everyone was carried first class at half fare.

1861 July 16,17
Special Royal Trains on the Albion Rail Road

In 1861, HRH Prince Alfred, fourth child and second son of Queen Victoria, visited Albion Mines (Stellarton).  On July 16th, the royal party arrived on the warship St. George, which anchored off Pictou Light because she had too much draft to cross the sandbar at the entrance to Pictou harbour.  The GMA steamship Pluto carried the entourage to Dunbar's Point, Abercrombie.  A special train pulled by Samson carried the royal party from the coal pier at Dunbar's Point to Stellarton.  The next day, when it was time to depart, the process was reversed, beginning with a special train carrying the royal party from Stellarton to Dunbar's Point, and Pluto from there to the warship.

Tour Tickets Available

Beginning in 1862, travellers could buy a long ticket strip allowing them to go from Halifax to Windsor on the Nova Scotia Railway, from Windsor by steam boat to Saint John, then on the European and North American Railway from Saint John through Norton, Sussex, Petitcodiac, Moncton, and Shediac to Point de Chene, thence to Charlottetown by boat, on another boat to Pictou, from Pictou to Truro on Hiram Hyde's Royal Mail Stage Line, and back to Halifax on the Nova Scotia Railway.  In her History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, Marguerite Woodworth reports that sixty-six of these tickets were sold in 1862.

1862 July 28
Serious Train Wreck on the Albion Rail Road

In a head-on collision between two trains on the Albion Rail Road near New Glasgow, three well-known young women were killed – one of them was Miss Jane Smith, of Truro, a niece of stagecoach tycoon Hiram Hyde, MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament).  H.B. Jefferson wrote: This wreck "caused a tremendous hubbub in the course of which, for the first time since 1827 GMA (General Mining Association) officials were publicly criticized and censured severely by a jury of the local proletariat.  The inquest brought out many titillating details of railroading in those good old days.  The free and easy ... manner in which the Albion was run would make the blood of a modern Transport Commissioner run cold ... There were no brakes at all on the engines, and only primitive hand lever stage coach type sledge brakes on tenders and some coal cars ... There were no cabs or cabooses, and train and engine men worked out in the open rain or shine ... There was no time table, no train dispatcher and no written train orders.  Conductors and engineers were expected to make their own "meets" (two trains going in opposite directions on the single-track line could pass each other only where there was a siding, and there were only two sidings along the line) ... Even on the day of the wreck, when both train crews except one man were green at the work, the superintendent said: 'You conductors arrange your own meets.' ...There were three so-called passenger trains at 8:30 am, 12:00 noon, and 3:30 pm, in which a small stagecoach type car was pushed ahead of the locomotive of a regular coal train, connecting with the company steamer Pluto which ran a ferry service at those hours between Dunbar's and Pictou.  Such was the organization that was transporting an average of 200 passengers a week ... The passenger coach normally held six people in comfort, but on the day of the wreck there were fifteen crammed into it – eight men and seven women..."

1866 May 05
Construction of the Pictou Extension

On this day, an official announcement was made that the right-of-way had been acquired for the extension of the Nova Scotia Railway from Truro to Pictou Landing, and that a contract had been awarded for the construction of this railway.
Official Announcement

1866 June 11
Official Opening of Halifax City Railroad

On this day the Halifax City Railroad Company opened its line of horse-drawn street cars for regular traffic.  The north end of the line was on Barrington Street at Richmond Depot, the Intercolonial Railway station (which was accidentally demolished at 9:17 am, 6 December 1917).  From Richmond, the track ran southward along Barrington and Hollis, and ended near Morris Street.

[In her History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, published in October 1936, Marguerite Woodworth gives the date of official opening of the Halifax City Railroad as May 11, 1866, but this is an error.  Original documents included in Murille Schofield's collection, now (1997) in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, definitively establish the correct date as June 11, 1866.]

1867 January 1
Construction Begins, Westward from Hantsport

On this day the official sod-turning, marking the beginning of construction of the Windsor & Annapolis Railway westward from Hantsport, was performed.  At this time there was no bridge across the Avon River at Windsor, that could carry a railway train.  This meant that, even when the railway began running trains westward from Hantsport, there would be a gap in the railway between Windsor and Hantsport.  Travellers would have proceed by stage coach across this gap.  "Everything about the W&AR was unconventional. Construction started in defiance of the Provincial Engineer and the Nova Scotia statute four months before the company was even incorporated.  It had two 'first sod' turnings; one at Hantsport on January 1, 1867, and another at Annapolis Royal on July 20 of that same year to mollify Commissioner Avard Longley of the Nova Scotia Railway, whose wife performed the ceremony."

[The quote is from 99 Years of Dominion Atlantic, by J.B. King, in the December 1968 issue of The Maritime Express, a newsletter published by The Scotian Railroad Society.]

1867 May 7
Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company

On this day the Act (chapter 36, 1867, 30 Victoria) to incorporate the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company was passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature.

1867 November 2
Construction Begins, Avon River Bridge

On this day, the first pile was driven, for the foundation of the first railway bridge over the Avon River at Windsor.

1868 July 31
First Locomotives Arrive for W&A Railway

The first two locomotives on the Windsor & Annapolis Railway were Joseph Howe and Sir Gaspard le Marchant, which were bought second hand from the Nova Scotia government for $7,000.  They were delivered to the W&AR by ship.  Joseph Howe was landed at Bridgetown on 31 July 1868, and Sir Gaspard le Marchant at Elderkin Creek, one mile east of Kentville, on 8 August 1868.  A little later another second hand locomotive, St. Lawrence, was brought to Bridgetown on the sailing vessel Prince of Wales.  These three engines were put to work on the construction of the railway between Grand Pre and Annapolis.

1869 August 18
First Train Annapolis to Horton

The official opening ceremony for the Windsor & Annapolis Railway between Annapolis and Grand Pre was held this day.  The first passenger train left Annapolis about 6 am, Conductor James Kaye, Driver Billie Boyd, Fireman John Phelan, Engine St. Lawrence.  The train arrived at Kentville about 3 pm, and a big banquet was held in what later (1923) was the machine shop.  Then proceeded to Horton Landing.  Thomas Legge drove the engine from Kentville to Horton Landing, with George Donsten, then traffic superintendent, acting as conductor.  For the next few months, passengers travelling between Annapolis and Halifax were carried between Horton Landing and Windsor by stage coach, while railway bridges were being built across the Gaspereaux and Avon Rivers.  The W&AR's "official opening took place at Grand Pre on August 18, 1869, and it began regular train service between that point and Annapolis Royal four months before the line was completed between Horton and Windsor.  Meanwhile, it transported passengers over this missing link in stage coaches it bought and operated until the Avon River bridge was ready for service."

[The quote is from 99 Years of Dominion Atlantic, by J.B. King, in the December 1968 issue of The Maritime Express, a newsletter published by The Scotian Railroad Society.]

1872 January 1
First Through Train, Annapolis - Halifax

The first Windsor & Annapolis Railway passenger train ran through from Annapolis to Halifax, using newly-granted "running rights" over the track, owned by others, between Windsor and Halifax.  Until this day, no passenger train ran past Windsor – all trains in both directions stopped there and passengers had to get off one train and board another to continue their journey.  The W&AR operated trains between Windsor and Annapolis, and the Nova Scotia Railway operated trains between Windsor and Halifax. The Windsor station had three tracks: one for use by the NSR, one for use by the W&AR, and the one in the middle for either to use as needed.

1872 October 8
First Train on the ICR, Truro - Amherst

On this day, the first train ran all the way between Truro and Amherst on the newly-built track of the Intercolonial Railway. This same track is now (2008) part of the main line of CN (Canadian National Railway) between Halifax and Montreal.

1872 November 9
ICR Formally Opened, Truro - Amherst

On this day, the Intercolonial Railway between Truro and Amherst was opened for regular traffic. This completed the Halifax - St. John route, so that a passenger could now ride all the way between these two cities in a railway carriage.

1873 September 22
Western Counties Railway, First Sod Turned

On this day, the official sod-turning ceremony, marking the beginning of construction of the Western Counties Railway, was held at Lovitt's Wharf, Yarmouth. The plan was to build a railway between Yarmouth and Digby.

1874 September 2
Western Counties Railway, First Rail Laid

The first rail of the Western Counties Railway was laid during a ceremony near Lovitt's Wharf in Yarmouth. The first spike was driven by George B. Doane, President of the Company.

1874 October 20
Western Counties Railway, First Locomotive Arrives

Pioneer, Western Counties Railway's first locomotive, arrived in Yarmouth. It ran under its own power on October 27th.

1875 June 30
Change of Gauge

Beginning in the evening of Wednesday, June 30, 1875, and continuing through the night, many work crews accomplished the task of changing the gauge of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway, between Windsor Junction and Annapolis, from 5 feet 8 inches 172.7 cm to 4 feet 8½ inches 143.5 cm. This was a complicated job, which included changing all track and all switches to the new gauge. Extensive preparations had been made in advance; a spike was driven inside to the new gauge on every other tie and inside spikes were pulled from alternate ties of the broad gauge, so that when the time came to make the change it was only a matter of removing the remaining inside spikes on the broad gauge and sliding the rail over to the new gauge, and driving new outside spikes on every other tie. Only one rail was moved, with the other remaining in its original location. Marguerite Woodworth, in her 1936 book History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, wrote: The whole work was "done in a little over ten hours, with no disruption of train service." After trains resumed running on the new gauge, track crews went back and completed the work by driving all missing spikes. All rolling stock, including locomotives and freight and passenger cars, had to be converted to run on the new gauge. The Dominion Government exchanged the old, broad-gauge locomotives for nine standard-gauge engines, and, in exchange for similar quantities of broad gauge equipment, the Government provided 14 pairs of standard gauge passenger trucks and 145 pairs of freight car trucks. Rolling stock was converted at Kentville by lifting each car, then removing the old broad-gauge trucks, and installing new standard-gauge trucks.

1879 September 29
Western Counties Railway Opened for Traffic

On this day, the Western Counties Railway was formally opened for regular traffic between Yarmouth and Digby. This track carried daily passenger trains until 15 January 1990.

1883 February 27
First Fatal Accident on the WCR

The first fatal accident on the Western Counties Railway occurred on this day, near the foot of Commercial Street in Yarmouth. Frank Dulong was run over by a train.

1883 July
First Steel Ingots Cast

Steel ingots were produced at the Trenton plant of the Nova Scotia Steel Company in July 1883, and "were the first produced in Canada on a commercial basis". Five years later the basic open-hearth process af making steel was introduced.
[The quote is from a paper read by Major Charles Cantley at the 1913 annual meeting of the Canadian Mining Institute in Ottawa.]

1888 July
Yarmouth Street Railway Company

The Yarmouth Street Railway Company was organized, with Directors James J. Lovitt, President, and B.F. Pearson of Halifax, Secretary.

1888 Summer
Passenger Trains To and From Pictou 1888 Summer Schedule

Pictou Town Branch
Intercolonial Railway
Four Trains Each Way Each Day

Depart from Pictou 6:00 am 9:45 am 2:20 pm 5:40 pm
Arrive at Westville 6:23 am 10:20 am 2:52 pm 6:12 pm
Arrive at Stellarton 6:30 am 10:40 am 3:00 pm 6:25 pm
Arrive at New Glasgow 6:43 am 11:05 am 3:20 pm 6:35 pm
Depart from New Glasgow 7:00 am 11:15 am 3:30 pm 8:45 pm
Leave Stellarton 7:35 am 11:35 am 4:00 pm 9:10 pm
Leave Westville 7:47 am 11:45 am 4:12 pm 9:20 pm
Arrive at Pictou 8:20 am 12:15 pm 4:50 pm 9:50 pm
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, all issues, September 1888]

[The stations along this route were: New Glasgow, Stellarton, Westville, Alma, Sylvester, Lochbroom, Brown's Point, and Pictou.]

1888 September
Long Working Hours

Railway Conductor Foster is on the road every day from 6 am to 10 pm – long hours for any man.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 29 September 1888]

1888 September
Pictou Railway Station

Receipts at the Pictou railway station last month (September 1888) were $18,000. Business on the Pictou branch line is booming.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 20 October 1888]

1888 September 22
300 Casks of Kerosene Oil

Three hundred casks of kerosene [for oil lamps] were landed at the New Glasgow railroad station in one day this week. Not bad for an electric light town.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 22 September 1888]

1888 September 24-28
Special Trains on the Intercolonial Railway and Eastern Extension Railway

Provincial Exhibition,
Truro, Nova Scotia
Sept. 24th to 28th, 1888

Excursion return tickets at single [one way] first class fare will be issued from all booking stations in Nova Scotia to Truro on 24th and 25th September, good for return up to 28th September. Special cheap excursions on the 24th Sept. from Halifax, Amherst, Pictou, and Antigonish, to Truro. Train leaving Halifax at 7:30 o'clock, Amherst at 6:50 o'clock, Pictou at 7:00 o'clock, and Antigonish at 5:30 o'clock. Returning leave Truro for Amherst at 21:00 o'clock, for Halifax at 21:15 o'clock, and for Pictou and Antigonish at 21:30 o'clock. Fares: – Halifax, Amherst, Pictou, and New Glasgow $1.00, Antigonish $1.50, with correspondingly low rates from intermediate stations.
D. Pottinger
Railway Office, Moncton, N.B.,
19th Sept. '88

[Advertisement in The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 22 September 1888]

The Eastern Extension Railway was the name then applied to the railway between New Glasgow and the Strait of Canso (Mulgrave).

1888 September 26
5,000 Passengers to Truro

It is estimated that the trains took 5,000 people to Truro on Wednesday [26 September 1888.] Conductor Miller says he never saw as many people in any train as the one he took to New Glasgow that evening. There were over 100 in each car. There was scarcely standing room. The special train from Antigonish on Wednesday morning for Truro had seven cars crowded when it left New Glasgow.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 29 September 1888]

1888 October
Three New Railways Near Completion

Within a year, says Chief Engineer Schrieber, the Oxford & New Glasgow railway, the Cape Breton railway, and the Short Line railway to Montreal, will all be in operation.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 6 October 1888]

[All three railways were completed in 1889, and were of great economic importance to Nova Scotia. The "Short Line to Montreal" was the Canadian Pacific main line from Saint John to Montreal, across Maine via Vanceboro and Brownville; in 2008 this railway remains in operation, under ownership by the New Brunswick Southern Railway and others. The "Cape Breton railway" was the ICR main line between New Glasgow and Sydney, via Antigonish, Mulgrave, Point Tupper, Orangedale and Grand Narrows; in 2008 this railway is owned and operated by the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway. The "Oxford & New Glasgow," 68 miles 109km long, from Oxford Junction via Oxford, Tatamagouche and Scotsburn to Brown's Point Junction (near Pictou) continued operating into the 1970s as the Oxford Subdivision of Canadian National, but it has now been abandoned and dismantled.]

1888 October
New Glasgow Train Service

New Glasgow Station
Intercolonial Railway

Express from Pictou 4:43 5:43 am
Express from Trenton 5:45 6:45 am
Acc. from Hopewell 6:45 7:45 am
Freight from Truro 9:30 10:30 am
Freight from Mulgrave 10:00 11:00 am
Freight from Pictou 10:05 11:05 am
Express from Truro 10:40 11:40 am
Express from Mulgrave 13:40 2:40 pm
Express from Pictou 14:20 3:20 pm
Acc. from Trenton 17:05 6:05 pm
Acc. from Pictou 17:35 6:35 pm
Express from Truro 20:20 9:20 pm
Express for Truro 5:20 6:20 am
Express for Trenton 5:45 6:45 am
Acc. for Pictou 6:00 7:00 am
Freight for Mulgrave 10:15 11:15 am
Express for Pictou 10:15 11:15 am
Express for Mulgrave 10:55 11:55 am
Freight for Truro 11:00 12:00 noon
Express for Truro 13:55 2:55 pm
Freight for Pictou 14:30 3:30 pm
Acc. for Hopewell 17:10 6:10 pm
Express for Pictou 19:45 8:45 pm

Note: "Acc." means an Accomodation Train, that is, a local passenger train which stops at every station.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 13 October 1888]

1888 October
New Glasgow Steel Works

J.H. Bartlett, of Montreal, has contributed an article to the Canadian Mining Review on "Steel Manufacture in Nova Scotia," and describes our steel works ... The steel works pay out nearly $100,000 a year in wages. When the additions to the works are completed, 300 men will be employed ...
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 13 October 1888]

1888 October
Pictou County Iron Mine

Large quantities of iron ore are now being brought from Bridgeville, East River, to Eureka siding, and there loaded on rail cars for Londonderry, Colchester County. We hope to see soon the East River iron mines largely developed, and this industry become one of Nova Scotia's greatest enterprises.

The Iron Farm!

A Visit to the Centre of our Iron Deposits

We paid a flying visit to the "Iron Farm" as it is commonly called. All of our readers, no doubt, have heard of the wonderful deposits of iron ore in this county. Twelve miles 19km from New Glasgow, on the East River, is situated the Grant Farm. It contains about 400 acres of land. Two years ago the Grant Brothers began to open the iron beds here, and have taken out about 800 tons 800 tonnes, which mostly was shipped to Londonderry. At the time of our visit last Friday [5 October 1888] we found Mr. McVicar, a miner of 15 years experience, busy with a gang of men. He has a one-year lease of the mine, and is working it on a small scale, paying a royalty to the owners on all ore extracted. Mr. McVicar is working on a seam over 30 feet 10m wide and probably 180 feet 55m deep. After being mined the ore has to be carted [by teams of horses or oxen] to Eureka siding on the ICR, six miles 10km distant, for shipment. With the exception of one car load, all has gone to Londonderry...
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 13 October 1888]

1888 October 13
Oxford & New Glasgow Railway

M.J. Hogan has leased his engines (steam locomotives). They will work on the Short Line. Gray McManus & Company are pushing on the construction work with wonderful rapidity.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 13 October 1888]

[M.J. Hogan was a contractor on the construction of the Short Line.]

1888 October 13
Chignecto Ship Railway

N.A. Rhodes, of the enterprising firm of Rhodes, Curry & Co., was in New Glasgow a few days ago. He says the Chignecto ship railway is going ahead. This monster enterprise will cost $7,000,000, and give employment to 2,000 men. Mr. Cook of Pictou has secured a contract for draining. M.J. Hogan, the well known railway contractor, has sold to Dawson & Sims, contractors, his steam shovel for $7,000. It will be used in construction. The railway is to be finished in 1890.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 13 October 1888]

1888 October 13
Oxford & New Glasgow Railway

This day's issue of the New Glasgow Enterprise, contained a display advertisement calling for:

Tender for Station Buildings,
Freight Shed,
Engine and Water Service

Sealed tenders, addressed to the undersigned, and marked "Tender for Station Buildings, &c.," will be received up to noon on Tuesday, October 16th, 1888. Plans and specifications may be seen and forms of Tender obtained on application at the office of the Division Engineer, in the Town of Wallace, Nova Scotia, and at the Intercolonial Railway Office at Moncton.

Each tender must be accompanied by a deposit equal to five per cent of the amount of the tender. This deposit may consist of cash or of an accepted bank cheque made payable to the Minister of Railways and Canals, and it will be forfeited if the party tendering neglects or refuses to enter into a contract when called upon to do so, or if after entering into the contract he fails to complete the work satisfactorily according to the Specification. If the Tender is not accepted, the deposit will be returned.

Tenders must be made on the printed forms supplied. The Department will not be bound to accept the lowest or any Tender.

A.P. Bradley, Sec'y.
Department of Railways & Canals,
Ottawa, October 2nd, A.D. '88.

1888 October
Fast Mail Service Planned

The Canadian Pacific Railway proposes to carry the British mails from Liverpool, England, via Canada to Brisbane, Australia, in 31 days. Canada is fast becoming the highway of the nations.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 20 October 1888]

1888 October 19
Special Colonist Sleeping Car

(Display advertisement)
A Special Colonist Sleeping Car will leave Montreal, Friday, October 19th, 1888, for the Pacific Coast. Passengers from Nova Scotia should arrange to take the Quebec Express, leaving Halifax Wednesday, October 17th, at 18 o'clock. Passengers desiring to take advantage of the superior accommodations afforded, should make early application and have accomodation reserved. The Canadian Pacific rates are the lowest to British Columbia, Washington Territory, and Oregon. For circulars giving all information apply to any Ticket Agent, Canadian Pacific or International Railways.
C.E. McPherson
St. John, N.B.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 6 October 1888]

1888 October 27
Oxford & New Glasgow Railway

Work is being rushed along on the Oxford & New Glasgow Railway, especially at the Oxford end. The bridge being built across the river at Wallace, for this railway, will, it is said, be one of the finest structures in the Lower Provinces.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 27 October 1888]

1888 November 3
Chignecto Ship Railway

Thomas Cooke of New Glasgow, has secured a contract on three and a half miles 5.6km of the Chignecto ship railway.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 3 November 1888]

1888 November 3
Oxford & New Glasgow Railway

Rhodes, Curry & Co., have secured the contract for the erection of station buildings, etc., from Oxford to Tatamagouche, on the Short Line, at a cost of about $45,000. The contract could not be in better hands.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 3 November 1888]

[This railway line, between Oxford and New Glasgow, was known then and forever after as the Short Line.]

1888 November 3
Chignecto Ship Railway

A. Robb & Sons are now manufacturing wheels, and Rhodes, Curry & Co., woodwork, for cars to be used on the Chignecto Ship Railway.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 3 November 1888]

1888 November
The Oldest Railway in America Abandoned

The Albion Mines railway, on the west side of the river, from the New Glasgow crossing to the loading ground, has been abandoned by the Acadia Coal Company, and workmen are now engaged tearing up the rails and sleepers (ties). This road is said to be the oldest in America. It was begun in 1836 and finished in 1839. The abandoned portion is about four miles six km long. The land on which the road was built was never the property of the company, but was rented from the farmers at a yearly rental, and as the company had not much use for it, they came to the conclusion that it would be better to give it up than pay the heavy rents. This means that the loading ground will be no more a shipping point, and will not tend to enhance the value of property at that section. From its historical associations we are sorry to see the road abandoned. Some enterprising citizen should have bought it up as a piece of bric-a-brac. A mile or two of it would be a valuable addition to our museum.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 24 November 1888]

1888 November 24
Halifax - Moncton Express Train

The express to Moncton on Sunday last (18 November) from Halifax with the English mail, under charge of Conductor Rhodes, did some tall work. Her running time was five hours and fifteen minutes. Not too slow for 188 miles 303km.
[The Enterprise, New Glasgow, 24 November 1888]

This report indicates an average speed of 58 km/h, Halifax to Moncton.
In 2008, the scheduled running time for the Ocean passenger train, Halifax to Moncton (304 km), is 4 hours 25 minutes, for an average speed of 69 km/h.

1889 December 23
Nova Scotia Central Railway Opened

On this day, the Nova Scotia Central Railway, between Middleton and Bridgewater, opened for regular traffic. NSCR connected with the Windsor & Annapolis Railway at Middleton. There now was a continuous line of railway track (owned by various companies), with daily trains (operated by various companies but with connecting schedules), from Lunenburg through Mahone Bay, Bridgewater, New Germany, Springfield, Nictaux, Middleton, Kingston, Aylesford, Berwick, Kentville, Wolfville, Hantsport, Windsor, and Mount Uniacke, to Windsor Junction, with connections at Windsor Junction to Halifax, Dartmouth, Truro, Amherst, Moncton, and Saint John. There was a connecting railway line, with daily trains, between Middleton and Annapolis Royal. There was a railway between Digby and Yarmouth, but the only passenger connection between Digby and Annapolis was by stage coach. There was a connecting railway line, with daily trains, between Truro and New Glasgow. East of New Glasgow, the only scheduled service was by stage, but many people travelled by horseback or on foot.

1890 October 18
Official Opening of the ICR Main Line to Sydney

At midnight on this day, the five-car special train of Governor-General Lord Stanley left Halifax, and arrived at Mulgrave in the early morning. The five cars were ferried across the Strait of Canso, and reassembled into a train at Point Tupper, with the Intercolonial Railway Company's locomotive #166 in front. At Iona, Lord Stanley (best remembered as the donor of hockey's Stanley Cup) formally declared the railway to Sydney open for traffic, and then himself drove the train across the Grand Narrows bridge. The official train reached Sydney at 7:10 pm, touching off celebrations that lasted well into the night.
[Excerpted from Tracks Across The Landscape, The S&L Commemorative History, by Brian Campbell, University College of Cape Breton Press, 1995.]

1891 July 27
Completion of the Missing Link

On this day, the first through train ran between Digby and Annapolis, over the last section of the Halifax to Yarmouth railway to be completed.  This final length of track had become popularly known as the Missing Link; it had been delayed several times because of the exceptional expense of the two large bridges required.  There now was a continuous railway track between Sydney and Yarmouth.  This track was owned and operated by various companies, but the daily passenger trains ran on connecting schedules.

1892 August 6
First Electric Streetcar Line

The first electric streetcar line in the Maritime Provinces, and the third in Canada, began regular operation in the evening of 6 August 1892, in Yarmouth.  (The first electric streetcar line in Hamilton, Ontario, began operation on 29 June 1892.  The first electric streetcar line in Toronto began operation on 15 August 1892.  The first electric streetcar line in Winnipeg began regular operation on 5 September 1892.  The first electric streetcar line in Montreal, the Belt Line, began regular operation on 22 September 1892.)  It was built and operated by the Yarmouth Street Railway Company.  The route followed Main Street from the southern town limit to the northern town limit, about three miles [five km].  It was a single-track line, except for a short double-track section past the car barn at King Street.  From April 15th to November 15th, cars ran every 15 minutes, beginning from the south end at 6:45am and continuing until 10:45pm.  From November 15th to April 15th they ran every 20 minutes, beginning at the south end at 6:40am and continuing until 10:40 pm.  The fare was five cents cash, or four cents if you bought a book of 25 tickets for $1.  Several years later, the track was extended in a northward direction, about one mile, along the shore of Lake Milo to Murphy's Bridge, near Lakeside Park; an open car operated along this line during the summer, connecting with the regular Main Street cars near the Pumping Station at the northern town limit.  The Yarmouth streetcars continued running until operations ceased in October 1928.

1894 October 1
First Through Train, Yarmouth to Halifax

"Under financial and political pressures, the Windsor & Annapolis Railway and the Western Counties Railway united as the Dominion Atlantic Railway, and their first train ran through from Yarmouth to Halifax, October 1, 1894."
[The quote is from 99 Years of Dominion Atlantic, by J.B. King, in the December 1968 issue of The Maritime Express, a newsletter published by The Scotian Railroad Society.]

The DAR continued operating trains for a long time, running its last four trains on the morning of Friday, August 26, 1994, just 36 days short of one hundred years.

Midland Railway Company

The Act (chapter 85, 1896) to incorporate the Midland Railway Company was passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature.  The plan was to build a railway from Truro through Clifton, Princeport, South Maitland, Kennetcook, Stanley, and Scotch Village to Windsor.

Liverpool & Milton Tramway Company Limited

The Liverpool & Milton Tramway Company Limited was chartered in 1896. The L&MT built and operated a 4.63 mile 7.45 km railway along the west side of the Mersey River, between Liverpool and Rapid Falls, near Milton, in Queens County. The line's principal business was freight from a pulp mill at Rapid Falls. It also operated a steam dummy railway (steam-powered streetcars) in the streets of Liverpool which carried passengers.

On 25 April 1905, the L&MT was bought by Mackenzie & Mann's Halifax & South Western Railway.

1896 February 13
Electric Streetcars Begin Operating in Halifax

"The first trolley car started out on February 13, 1896," according to a technical paper Halifax Electric Tramway Plant and Steam Engineering read on May 7, 1907, by Philip A. Freeman, Chief Engineer of the Halifax Electric Tram Company, before the Nova Scotia Society of Engineers. It is unclear whether this was a test run or the beginning of regular service.

1899 September 8
Shipment of Rails

The schooner Keewaydin arrived in Halifax from New York with a cargo of steel rails "for the Midland road." [This was the Midland Railroad, then under construction, from Truro through South Maitland, Kennetcook, and Stanley, to Windsor.]
[Halifax Daily Echo, 8 September 1899]

1899 September 12
Two Electric Railways Planned; Halifax to Bedford, to Carry Passengers and Halifax to Lunenburg, for Passengers and Freight

A plan to build a railway, to carry passengers in electric streetcars between Halifax and Bedford, along the west shore of the Bedford Basin, was actively pursued in 1899. The promoters expected it to be in operation in the summer of 1900, reported the Halifax Daily Echo on this day. "The promoters will devote all their attention to the Bedford tramway for the present. Their charter ... allows them to run cars into Almon Street, and it is understood the Halifax Tram company are willing to make a fair and equitable transfer arrangement ... The promoters of the company have reserved their option on the water power near Birch Cove, and hope to have the road in operation by next summer. The idea is to run the line to the rifle range and to have near the terminus there a picnic ground with facilities for bathing, boating, acquatic sports and other amusements, with a building properly equipped for dining. The cars would run hourly during the summer season ... The promoters favour the line running along the eastern side of the Bedford road, between the road and the Intercolonial track, and would widen the road to twenty-six feet 8 metres in places where at present it is not of that width. The streetcar track would be far enough from the ICR track so that snow thrown from either would not interfere with the other, though they would run parallel most of the distance." The promoters thought this line "could be built inside of three months."

Also, "the promoters have the utmost faith" in the plan to build an electric railway from Halifax to St. Margaret's Bay, "and think if a line were built right to Lunenburg it would pay well, carrying freight and mail as well as passengers. They argue that the tourist traffic in the summer would be immense, as there are no prettier spots in the province than are to be found between Halifax and Lunenburg..."

[Neither of these electric rail lines was built, but the Halifax & South Western Railway built a steam railway from Halifax to Mahone Bay in 1903-04, which carried considerable passenger traffic into the early 1950s, and carried the mail until the late 1950s, with freight service continuing into the 1990s.]

Significant Dates in
Nova Scotia Railway History

Before 1850   1850-1899   1900-1949   1950 to now

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