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.
Intercolonial RailwayConstruction of a railway linking the Maritime colonies and the Province of Canada was proposed as early as the 1840s. Surveys were carried out and deputations were sent to England to solicit financial support. A line was opened between Halifax and Truro, NS, in 1858 and from Saint John to Shediac, NB, in 1860. In 1865 Sandford FLEMING presented a report recommending a route along Chaleur Bay, through the Matapedia Valley and along the St Lawrence because it was far from the American border and passed through rich timber country. Completion of the railway was made a condition of CONFEDERATION, in 1867, and construction began shortly after. Fleming was appointed engineer-in-chief and was involved in many heated controversies with officials.
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.