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Canada Central Railway

The Canada Central Railway

Location: The Canada Central Railway is located in eastern Ontario, extending northwest from the nation's capital up the Ottawa River Valley to the community of Mattawa.

History: By the mid 1800's, the city of Ottawa had developed into the focal point of the Ottawa River Valley lumber industry, much of it derived from the River's many tributaries in both Quebec and Ontario. Each spring, the vast amount of logs cut during the winter months would be rushed down the river system to the awaiting mills in Bytown/Ottawa where the material would be sawed for domestic and American markets. The operation, however, tended to be seasonal and transportation was dependent on the whims of nature. Accordingly, it wasn't long before proposals were made for constructing a rail line up the valley to provide access to timber resources, and to tie together many of the small settlements that had developed in that area. As well, it was anticipated that any railway constructed north may link up with a transcontinental route to the west. One of the early railway proposals made was a company known as the Lake Huron, Ottawa & Quebec Junction Railway, incorporated in 1856 to construct a line from Arnprior west to lake Huron. The line was endowed with large land grants. For several years, however, the project floundered until 1861 when the company was reincorporated as the Canada Central Railway Company (CCR).

Under new ownership, the company's intention became to construct a railway northwest from Ottawa through Arnprior and Pembroke towards Lake Huron. Provisions were made in the charter for a connection with the Brockville & Ottawa Railway (BOR) at Carleton Place and with the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental Railway that extended east from Aylmer across the river in Quebec to Montreal. Construction of the first phase of the CCR project began in 1869 from Carleton Place east to a point near Ottawa (Britannia), and then on to terminal facilities at Broad Street near the Chaudiere Falls. Opened in September 1870, the scheduling of the line was operated in conjunction with the BOR. It was around this time that the management of the Canada Central and the Belleville & Ottawa Railways essentially became one in the same, sharing various board and director titles. Accordingly, the operation and expansion goals of the two companies became one. Although in the interim they remained as separate entities, the schedules of the two railways from this point on were fully integrated.

During the early 1870's, the colony of British Columbia entered into negotiations with the Dominion of Canada with a goal of joining Confederation. The event finally took place in July 1871. As a condition, however, Canada was obligated to construct a transcontinental railway to the west in order to tie the new nation together. To accomplish this goal, the Canadian Pacific Railway was incorporated in February 1873. It was determined that the eastern terminus point of the new line would be at Lake Nipissing. From there, it was proposed that an extension of the Canada Central Railway would be constructed northwest to allow for the movement of trains directly into Ottawa and on to Montreal. In anticipation of this event, construction was commenced immediately by the CCR in extending its line from the end point of the BOR line at Sand Point thirteen miles northwest to Renfrew. This component was opened in late 1873. Further surveys were completed to the Lake Nipissing district that same year. By the end of 1873, however, the fall of the McDonald Federal Government as a result of the Pacific Scandal had ruined the first CPR venture. Still having the commitment to construct a western railway, however, the Mackenzie Government was forced to carry on. This it did with the incorporation of a new Canadian Pacific Railway Company in May 1874. The intention was to construct the transcontinental line in a piecemeal fashion, using water routes wherever possible to supplement the rails. The next segment of the CCR to be completed was that from Renfrew to Pembroke, opened in July 1876. At the same time, contracts were let to complete the line either to the head of Lake Nipissing or the French River where boats would take over.

In 1878, the McDonald Government was returned to office, resulting in the disbandment of the former governments policies and the reinstatement of the original transcontinental plan. Around the same time, the CCR and the B&OR were finally merged as one corporate entity, to be known henceforth as the Canada Central Railway Company. The new company at this time was composed of the Belleville to Pembroke mainline (121 miles), Smith Falls to Perth branch (12 miles), and the Carleton Place to Ottawa branch (28 miles). During this period, Duncan McIntyre entered the scene, gaining full control of the railway. Forming part of the consortium that had established the third Canadian Pacific Railway Company in 1881, it was McIntyre's intent to bring the CCR into its fold. Upon this being accomplished, construction began once again on the extension of the line northwest from Pembroke, being open to Mattawa by February 1881. In June of that same year, the Canada Central was officially merged with the CPR, becoming the first component of that company's eastern Canadian network. From Mattawa, the Canadian Pacific continued construction on the transcontinental route, the line being officially opened to North Bay in 1882.

Approximate Milage: Not including tracks of the BOR, the milage of the CCR was as follows: Carleton Place to Ottawa 28 miles, and from Sand Point to Mattawa was 129 miles.

Current Status: Under Canadian Pacific ownership, the line formed part of the Chalk River and North Bay Subdivisions. In 1996, Ottawa Valley RailLink Investments leased from the CPR the tracks extending from Smiths Falls north through Arnprior to Sudbury for freight operations.

Principle Stations: Carleton Place, Ottawa, Renfrew, Pembroke, Petawawa, Chalk River, Deep River and Mattawa.

Remaining Stations: There are four known stations remaining from the former CCR line. They are as follows:
1. Deux Rivreres: Moved nearby as a small apartment building, formerly a restaurant.
2. Mattawa: In situ off Highway #17, remains in railway use.
3. Pakenham: Moved to property on Five Arches Road as a private residence.
4. Snedden: Moved to property in Blakney as a storage shed.

Additional information about Ottawa Valley RaiLink activities can be had from the Unofficial Ottawa Valley RaiLink Homepage .

Last Updated: January 31, 1998

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