The first section between Truro and Amherst, NS, was opened on 9 November 1872, and that between Rivière-du-Loup and Ste-Flavie [Mont-Joli], Qué, in August 1874. The link between Campbellton and Moncton, NB, was completed in 1875 and the gap between Campbellton and Ste-Flavie was closed in 1876. Fleming declared the railway (some 1100 km long) ready for traffic on July 1 of that year. Construction of the railway did not require spectacular engineering feats but did present numerous difficult challenges. The railway was also built to high standards. At Fleming's insistence, all but 3 of the BRIDGES were built of iron.
The Intercolonial acquired the GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY line from Rivière-du-Loup to Point Lévis, Qué, in 1879 and 10 years later gained running rights into Montréal from the GTR. It added the Cape Breton Railway in 1891, providing ferry service across the Strait of Canso. Built to fulfil the terms of Confederation, the Intercolonial was never a commercial success. Nevertheless, it provided employment, developed towns and villages along its route, and was a customer for Maritime coal. Up to 1918 it was administered by the Dominion government under the minister of railways and canals. Freight rates were kept low in order to promote trade, and deficits were met by the government. In 1919 the Intercolonial became part of the CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS.
Author JAMES MARSH
Links to Other Sites
Collection Profile: Rail
An extensive overview of Canada's railway history from the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
Sir Sandford Fleming
Watch the Heritage Minute about Sir Sandford Fleming from the Historica-Dominion Institute. See also related online learning resources.
New Brunswick: Our Stories, Our People
Explore the history of New Brunswick in this extensive online multimedia exhibit. Features an interactive timeline, glossary, illustrations, maps, and more. From the Virtual Museum of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick.
Orangedale Intercolonial Railway Station
An illustrated description of the historic Orangedale Intercolonial Railway station. From the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...