The Champlain and Saint Lawrence Railroad (incorporated 1832), Canada's first railway, ran between LA PRAIRIE
on the St Lawrence River and St Johns [ ST-JEAN
] on the Richelieu. In effect, it served as a portage over the most troublesome part of the journey from Montréal to New York, which continued by steamer via Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. Construction began in 1835 with financing from Montréal brewer John MOLSON
. The rails consisted of 6´ (14 cm)-wide pine timbers joined by iron plates and bolts. Iron straps were then spiked to the upper surface.
The railway officially opened 21 July 1836 and began regular operations July 25. The locomotive, the wood-burning Dorchester built in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, could reach up to 48 km/h. The railway was extended to Rouses Point, New York, in 1851 and to St Lambert, Québec, in 1852. In 1857 it amalgamated with the Montréal and New York Railroad (formerly MONTREAL AND LACHINE RAILROAD) under the name Montreal and Champlain Railroad Company. It was leased to the GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY in 1864, and purchased by GTR in 1872.
See also LOCOMOTIVES AND ROLLING STOCK; RAILWAY HISTORY.