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Grand Trunk Pacific Railway

The parent company of the GTP was the Grand Trunk Railway (GT), which was one of the earliest railway companies in Canada. It was incorporated in 1852.

Grand Trunk operated mainly in Ontario and Quebec, as well as some northeast and Midwest US states. Around the turn of the century, the company decided to expand into the western Canadian provinces to increase its profitability. It formed a partnership with the Canadian Government, whereby the government would build the eastern section of a transcontinental railway, from Winnipeg to Moncton, NB under the name National Transcontinental Railway (NTR). Grand Trunk would build the western section to Prince Rupert, BC as the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR/GTP).

The one exception to this arrangement was the branch from NTR at Graham/Superior Junction (now Sioux Lookout, ON) to Fort William, ON. Construction on this 200-mile line, which would give Grand Trunk access to Lake Superior, began in 1905. It was completed in 1908 and became known as the GTPR-Lake Superior Branch (it also referred to as the Fort William Branch). During World War I, issues arose over the operation of the NTR, and in 1915 it and several others were consolidated into newly formed Canadian Government Railways (CGR). On July 1, 1915, the line was leased from Grand Trunk Pacific and became the CGR-Fort William Branch with two subdivisions; Fort William (Fort William to Raith 60.76 miles) and Raith (Raith to Superior Junction 131.33 miles). Numerous improvements were undertaken during these years, including the construction of concrete culverts and bridges, as well as the filling in of wood trestles with gravel, taken primarily from the Dona Pit (near Dona Station on the west bank of the Kaministiquia/Dog River).

In 1918, the CGR took over the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) and became the Canadian National Railways (CNR), an arrangement which was finalized in 1923. The line initially was known as the CNR-Lake Superior Subdivision, but became the CNR-Graham Subdivision circa 1923. In 1924-1925 it was split into 3 subdivisions; the Crest Subdivision ran from the junction with the Kashabowie Subdivision (MP 5) to the junction with the Raith Subdivision on the north bank of the Matawin River (MP 0.3), the Raith Subdivision ran from Conmee Junction to Graham, while the Quorn Subdivision continued from there to Sioux Lookout.

This unusual arrangement was the part of the nationalization process, whereby soon 26 miles of the Crest Subdivision west from Fort William would be abandoned, which was a result of a duplication of lines with the former Canadian Northern Railway. To facilitate this arrangement, a new bridge was constructed across the Matawin River north of the Kashabowie Subdivison, which became Milepost 0 of the Raith Subdivision. The remaining two subdivisions were eventually remerged into the Graham Subdivision before 1933 which was abandoned in 1994.

The stations and some of the notable locations on the line are listed below (mileage shown is per the original line):

Milepost Station, Siding or Point Elevation (ft.)
0 West Fort William 613
1.2 Swing Bridge 637
1.6 CPR Main Line Crossing 636
6.4 Neebing River Culvert* 680
7.8-10.9 Moose’s Nose*
8.7 Alba** 750
14.1 Baird* 920
21.9 Crest* 1084
26.7 Strawberry Creek Bridge* 1025
27.4 Dona* 1041
27.5 Dog River Bridge* 1039
27.9 Dona Pit*
Matawin River Bridge*** 1097
33.9 Ellis 1200
36.8 Sunshine Creek Culvert 1266
39.9 Flett 1357
40.9 Flett Tunnel 1378
45.9 Griff Bridge 1460
47 Griff 1445
52.3 Horne 1487
58.7 Raith 1582
63.3 Linko 1555
69 James 1537
76.8 Kelly 1558
83.2 Larson 1567
89.3 Mack 1593
100.9 Knowlton/Graham**** 1617
108 Oscar 1596
115.6 Petry 1520
123.8 Quorn 1459
128.2 Reba 1465
135.6 Sowden 1465
140.3 Tannin 1470
146 Unaka 1428
149.8 Mattabi
153 Valora 1403
154 W.O. Junction/Clarkdon****
161.2 Wako/Watcomb**** 1338
167.5 Hunt/Umfreville**** 1304
171.8 Yonde 1338
179 Zarn 1311
186.4 Alcona 1237
189.7 Superior Junction with NTR Main Line 1209
195.9 Graham/Sioux Lookout**** 1197

*Abandoned 1925 **Relocated ***Added 1924 ****Renamed

For more information and photos, please read the following great article:

The Grand Trunk Pacific’s Lake Superior Branch by John Todd (Canadian Rail Magazine, September 1976)

Link to 1929 & 1925 maps. Link to some of the timecards.

Maps

Timetables

There are numerous videos of the remains of the GTP in the YouTube playlist below.

 

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