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Grand Trunk Railway

The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) was a railway system which operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, as well as the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec; however, corporate headquarters were in London, England. The Grand Trunk and its subsidiaries, along with the Canadian Government Railways, was a primary precursor of today's Canadian National Railways.

The GTR had three important subsidiaries during its lifetime:

Central Vermont Railway which operated in Quebec, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway which operated in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Grand Trunk Western Railroad which operated in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.
A fourth subsidiary was the never-completed Southern New England Railway, chartered in 1910, which would have run from a connection with the Central Vermont at Palmer, Massachusetts to the deep-water, all-weather port of Providence, Rhode Island. A new line to Providence would have allowed for more extensive port facilities than were possible for the Central Vermont at New London, Connecticut. Construction began in 1910 and continued in fits and starts for more than 20 years until finally abandoned in the early 1930s because of the Great Depression. The loss of the SNER's strongest proponent, Grand Trunk Railway president, Charles Melville Hays on the Titanic in 1912 may have been the major reason that this new route to the sea was never completed. Another important factor was the unrelenting opposition of the New Haven Railroad which fiercely protected its virtual monopoly control of rail traffic in Southern New England.

Charter, Construction and Expansion

The company was incorporated on November 10, 1852 as the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada to build a railway line between Montreal and Toronto.
The charter was soon extended east to Portland, Maine and west to Sarnia. In 1853 the GTR purchased the St. Lawrence & Atlantic from Montreal to the Quebec—Vermont border, and the partner company Atlantic & St. Lawrence through to the harbour facilities at Portland. A line was also built to Lévis, via Richmond from Montreal in 1855, part of the much-talked about "Maritime connection" in British North America. In the same year it purchased the Toronto & Guelph Railroad Company, the latter's railway was already under construction. But the Grand Trunk Railway Company changed the original route of the T&G and extended the line to Sarnia, a hub for Chicago-bound traffic. By July, 1856 the section from Sarnia to Toronto opened, and the section from Montreal to Toronto opened in October of that year. By 1859 a ferry service was established across the St. Clair River to Fort Gratiot (now Port Huron, Michigan).
The Grand Trunk was one of the main factors that pushed British North America towards Confederation. The original colonial economy structured along the water route from the Maritimes up the St. Lawrence River and the lower Great Lakes was greatly expanded by the duplicate route of the Grand Trunk. The explosive growth in trade during the 1850s within the United Province of Canada and further east by water to the Maritimes demanded that a railway link the entire geopolitical region together. During this time the GTR extended its line to Lévis further east to Rivière-du-Loup.
By 1860, the Grand Trunk was on the verge of bankruptcy and in no position to expand further east to Halifax. On the eve of the American Civil War, it stretched from Sarnia in the west to Rivière-du-Loup in the east and Portland in the southeast. Colonists in the United Province of Canada, some who experienced their territory being attacked by the United States only 40 years earlier (in the War of 1812), were uncomfortably close to the giant Union Army and faced terrorist attacks during the mid-1800s in the form of Fenian raids.
Such security concerns led to demands for a year-round transportation system that British reinforcements could use should their territory be attacked during winter when the St. Lawrence River was frozen and the only railway for British reinforcements to use would be the Grand Trunk connection at Portland, in the United States. Many citizens thought that the only way to finish the Grand Trunk - and protect the country - would be to unite all the colonies into a federation so that they could share the costs of an expanded railway system. Thus the British North America Act, 1867 included the provision for an Intercolonial Railway to link with the Grand Trunk at Rivière-du-Loup.
The end of the American Civil War saw British North America on the verge of uniting in a single federation and the GTR's financial prospects improved as the railway was well-positioned to take advantage of increased population and economic growth. By 1867, it had become the largest railroad system in the world by accumulating more than 2,055 km of track that connected locations between its ocean port at Portland, Maine, its river port at Rivière-du-Loup, the three northern New England states, and much of the southern areas of Lower and Upper Canada (Quebec and Ontario). By 1880, the Grand Trunk Railway system stretched all the way from Portland in the east to Chicago, Illinois in the west (by means of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad between Port Huron-Chicago).
Several impressive construction feats were associated with the GTR: the first successful bridging of the St. Lawrence River on August 25, 1860 with the opening of the first Victoria Bridge at Montreal (replaced by the present structure in 1898); the bridging of the Niagara River between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York; and the construction of a tunnel beneath the St. Clair River, connecting Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan. The latter work opened in August, 1890 and replaced the railcar ferry at the same location.

(Source Wikipedia)