The Globe Newspaper Train
By R L Kennedy
In the many decades before television, before radio and even before the telephone, people depended on newspapers to learn of events. While early printing presses produced crude looking newspapers, it never the less provided a cheap method of getting news to its readers. And with the news came editorials! Many were highly politically motivated and financed, being the sole source news they were an easy way to spread the "party line".
One of the famous editors of pre-Confederation Canada was George Brown. Born 1818 in Edinburgh, Scotland, he came to British North America in 1843 and founded what was to become a powerful newspaper, The Globe. It supported the Reform Party in Canada West (formerly Upper Canada and now Ontario). First published March 5,1844 as a weekly (circulation :300), it became a daily in 1853 (circulation 6000). Brown became a Member of Parliament in 1852, was a Father of Confederation (1867), and later became a Senator. Brown selected the newspaper's motto, attributed to an 18th Century English writer, which still adorns its masthead: " The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures".
The Mail was formed in 1872, by Conservative Party supporters, backing Sir John A. MacDonald. It merged in 1895 with another Conservative paper, The Empire.
Eventually, The Globe (circulation 78,000) merged with the Mail & Empire (circulation 118,000) in 1936 to form The Globe and Mail. It remains a respected Canada-wide business newspaper to this day. Circulation November 2001 372000.
Most early newspapers were local, and individualistic, there were no chains in those days. The Globe was a paper that did reach to other communities and it did this by a most unusual way, a train. Not content to distribute its papers on regular passenger trains as newspapers did for many decades, The Globe had its own train! This Special Train had just one car, a combination baggage-coach numbered 601 and specially painted to advertise The Globe. "Special Fast Train between Toronto and London, Hours Ahead of All Competitors" screamed the message, along with a boldly painted schedule for Toronto, Hamilton, Dundas, Harrisburg, Paris, Brantford, Woodstock, Ingersoll and London. Leaving Toronto at 3.55 am Daily Except Sunday, it ran the 115 miles in two hours and forty-five minutes! The regular locomotive for many years was Grand Trunk Railway 702, built for the Great Western Railway in August 1880 by Rhode Island. It was a broad gauge 4-4-0 passenger engine with 66 inch drivers, rebuilt in 1872 to standard gauge with 70" drivers. It became GTR 702 in 1882 when GWR was taken over by Grand Trunk, and was finally scrapped in June 1906. The special train operated for 20 years from about 1881, after which the newspapers were delivered on a regular passenger train, but for that time The Globe, and Canada had a very unique train, the only known one.
This train also had another unique feature. It broadcast the weather! Note the weather disc displayed on the side of the car indicating "Fair". For the story of this unique Canadian service read, WEATHER BROADCASTING BY TRAIN.