Project Information
After 1907
1901 Snapshot
Air Photo Study
Image Library
The Railway History of Ottawa East continued
In 1912, The Canadian Northern Railway, the new transcontinental system being constructed by William Mackenzie and Donald Mann arrived in Ottawa. Their main servicing facility was west of Prince of Wales Drive where Hunt Club Road now passes over the VIA Rail line to Smiths Falls. However, they constructed a small Ottawa passenger station at Mann Avenue and needed some engine facility close at hand to services their passenger locomotives. So they constructed a small roundhouse near the station. The exact location is unknown but would have been against the hill north of Lees Avenue. This facility was short-lived being closed with the formation of Canadian National Railways which absorbed both the Canadian Northern and later the Grand Trunk. CN merged all servicing at the former Mann Avenue Grand Trunk facilities previously mentioned.
Lifting  wrecked locomotive from canal near swing bridge  1891
Lifting  wrecked locomotive from canal near swing bridge  1891
Last of all was the small three-stalled engine shed constructed by the Ottawa & New York Railway that ran from Ottawa to Cornwall (later taken over by the New York Central Railroad). This facility lasted until the early 1950s when it was replaced by a concrete-block one-stall building. The railway was abandoned in 1957 and the building was taken over by the University of Ottawa (the approximate location of the present Engineering Building).
Main St. rail crossing - c1909/10
Main St. rail crossing c1896
So there was a lot of railway activity directly or indirectly in the Ottawa East area. However, life for the railway employees of the community was not easy. The jobs were much more hazardous than today. The hours were long and crews for trains could be called to work at any time, day or night and on weekends (although most people worked a six-day week, not just railway workers). Often train crews might be away from their families for several days. For shop employees, the work was often dirty and, by today's standards, even unhealthy, although it was like that in many industries, not just the railways.
1922 Panorama of Ottawa East - note the train steaming along the main line - the Gas Works - the steam to the far right is the city incinerator
Very little changed over the years for railway operations in the Ottawa East area. Locomotives became larger so fewer were needed. But the labour-intensive industry still needed a lot of employees. Finally, in the late 1950s, the railways in Canada began to convert to diesel locomotives which required much less maintenance and attention. By the end of 1959, Canadian National had discontinued steam operations and many railway workers lost their jobs. In Ottawa East, the old Mann Avenue roundhouse closed in 1964 leaving only the remnants of the freight yard. As businesses moved out of the area, the need for the yards diminished further until only trackage was required to access the old Union Station (the present government conference centre on Rideau Street) and provide a wye for turning the passenger trains. The yard was removed in preparation for the building of the Queensway. When the Union Station was closed in 1966, the last of the trackage in the Ottawa East area was removed ending a railway connection with the community spanning 84 years.
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