The Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada
The history of the Grand Trunk Railway is one with several chapters.
In 1852, the Canadian government officially announced its plan to build a railway between Montreal and Toronto. On November 10 of the same year, the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada was incorporated.
In 1853, the Grand Trunk Railway Company began in the usual way, by purchasing five existing railway companies. It acquired the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad Company, the Quebec and Richmond Railroad Company, the Toronto and Guelph Railroad Company, the Grand Junction Railroad Company, and the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada East.
St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad Company:
The railway belonging to the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad Company and its American counterpart, the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad Company, connected Longueuil, Quebec, to Portland, Maine. It was built from 1846 to 1853 and gave Canadian manufacturers access to a seaport free from ice year-round.
Quebec and Richmond Railroad Company:
This stretch of railway connected Quebec City to Richmond, which was located on the St. Lawrence and Atlantic line. It was built from 1852 to 1854.
Toronto and Guelph Railroad Company:
In 1853, when the Grand Trunk Railway Company merged with the Toronto and Guelph Railroad Company, the latter's railway was already under construction. But the Grand Trunk Railway Company changed its original route and extended the line to Sarnia, a hub for Chicago-bound traffic.
Grand Junction Railroad Company:
The tumultuous history of this company ended with the construction of a line between Peterborough, Ontario, and Belleville, Ontario. After the railway was purchased by the Midland Railway of Canada, it served as a link between Belleville and Toronto.
Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada East:
This railway connected Quebec City and Trois-Pistoles, a tiny port on the St. Lawrence.
In 1853, the primary Grand Trunk Railway Company project began with the construction of a railway between Montreal and Toronto. This stretch was built by late October 1856 and, the next month, extended all the way to Sarnia. In the early 1860s, the company operated a railway between Portland, Maine, in the United States, and Sarnia, Ontario.
In 1861, the Grand Trunk Railway Company had accumulated a debt of several hundred thousand pounds sterling as the result of the expansion and due to a lack of rail traffic. Sir Edward William Watkin was sent from London to sort out the company's financial situation. He succeeded in having the Canadian government adopt legislation to reorganize the company's finances. The government's debt continued to grow, but the railway was saved from bankruptcy.
In the 1880s, the Grand Trunk Railway Company continued to buy up other railway companies. For example, it purchased the Great Western Railway Company in 1882 and the Midland Railway of Canada in 1884.
But to compete with the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Northern Railway, the Grand Trunk Railway Company joined the transcontinental adventure by creating the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company. This would spell financial disaster for the company, which was dragged into bankruptcy in 1919. The federal government took charge of the railway and in 1923, amalgamated it with the Canadian National Railways, which later became the Canadian National.