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Brockville to Lyn

Once the B&W had climbed out of Brockville on the wooden trestles across the GTR, and once it had cut through the rock cut of the Canadian Shield, the railway turned west and sort of paralleled the Grand Trunk.  However, the B&W still faced its most difficult obstacle.  It had to get over the St Lawrence River escarpment and start heading north to Farmersville (Athens).  The only way that it could do this was to head west to Lyn Junction, then turn north into the Lyn Valley to Lyn.  Fortunately for the B&W, a ready-made solution was at hand.
When the Grand Trunk was being built between Brockville and Kingston in 1855 - 56, it needed a good source of ballast.  A large deposit of gravel was located just below the village of Lyn about one mile north of the GTR main line.  The Lyn valley provided easy access and a branch line was built to the gravel pit.  It was a good source of ballast for many years.  However, by 1886, the GTR had no further use for the ballast pit.  The Lyn Branch was considered more of a liability than an asset - except to the B&W which needed an easy route over the St Lawrence River escarpment. 


This map shows the GTR main line and the Lyn Branch circa 1867. It is not clear if the GTR ran regular train service (freight or passenger) up the Lyn Branch, or if it was just used to haul out ballast.  There was a separate siding owned by the mills below the Village of Lyn, however, we haven't been able to determine when they were installed.  Another mystery to solve!

On November 12, 1887, Robert G. Hervey, on behalf of the B&W, wrote a letter to Joseph Hickson, General Manager of the Grand Trunk, asking permission to cross the GTR at the end of its Manitoba yard on a 30 foot high trestle, offering to take that part of the Lyn Branch that would intersect with the B&W off of their hands, and requesting running rights along the GTR from Lyn Junction to the GTR station in Brockville until the end of June 1888.  With a flourish of his pen, Hickson wrote "Accepted" across the bottom of the last page of Hervey's letter and signed his name - such was the power of Joseph Hickson.  At last, the B&W had a break.  It could escape from the St Lawrence River valley.

This map shows the route of the Brockville, Westport & Sault Ste Marie Railway (in red) from Brockville to Lyn, Ont (not to scale).  The GTR still had running rights over their Lyn Branch, notwithstanding that ownership was transferred to the B&W. 
In 1921 the GTR was taken over by Canadian National Railways.  The CNR had previously taken over the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR).  The CNoR had gained control of the Brockville & Westport in 1910. 
The B&W line between Brockville and Lyn Depot was abandoned (except for a small part from Church St to Centre St in Brockville to serve the Phillips Cables plant).  After 1921, trains now travelled down the GTR main line to Lyn Depot (now called Lyn Junction) and switched onto the former GTR Lyn Valley branch. 


Now lets take a closer look at the B&W from Brockville to Westport.  Oh, just a word of warning.  Our next page contains a map that is 460k in size.  It may take a few moments to download, but we're sure you'll find that it's worth the wait. If you want to skip over this page, click here.