Back Index Next
Reaction of the Grand Trunk Railway

In response to the invasion of their territory by the Canadian Pacific in the early 1880's, the Grand Trunk Railway started to wake up.  Through a series of costly purchases or leases, the GTR expanded its network in Southern Ontario by picking up a series of independent railway lines.  The venerable Great Western Railway (Southwestern Ontario) was absorbed in 1882, the Midland Railway (Central Ontario) was leased in 1883, the Northern Railway (Southwestern Ontario) was acquired in 1888, and the Canada Atlantic Railway (Eastern Ontario) was leased 1904.  This was all financed through an increase in debt.  A map of Ontario was beginning to look like a spiderweb of railway lines. 
With the election of Sir Wilfred Laurier's Liberals, the Grand Trunk Railway was encouraged by the federal government to expand into the prairies.  In 1903, the GTR reached an agreement with the government to construct a new transcontinental line from Winnipeg through Edmonton and on to Prince Rupert under its wholly owned subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP). 
In return, the government agreed to construct a line from Winnipeg through Northern Ontario and Quebec to Quebec City and on to Moncton.  Officially known as the National Transcontinental Railway (NTR), this government-owned line would be leased to the GTP based upon the costs of construction.  The GTR would now be competing head-to head with the CPR in Western Canada. 
But everyone had forgotten about two entrepreneurs who had built a profitable railway enterprise in the Prairie provinces - William Mackenzie and Donald Mann.

This photo was taken about 1927 and shows just a part of the CNR/GTR servicing facilities at Brockville.  From the beginning of the Grand Trunk, Brockville was a major division point and housed a large stable of steam locomotives.  For more photos of the Brockville facilities, continue to the next page.  Photo courtesy Brockville Museum, Brockville, Ont.