Local Railway Bridges

This is a very short post about some of Northumberland Counties most interesting railway bridges.  Because most railway bridges do not have an extensive recorded history, but have a variety of styles and make for some great photo opportunities, enjoy the read.

The Canadian Pacific Railroad Viaduct in Port Hope Ontario.  Viaducts are a type of a long bridge or a series of smaller spans, usually supported by a series of arches or a span between tall concrete or steel towers to carry a road or railway over water, a valley or another road.  On July 1, 1867 four provincial governments joined together to form the new Country of Canada.  Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario and were soon joined by Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories.  By 1871 British Columbia decided to join Canada but only if the Canadian government promised to build a Transcontinental Railway, setting a ten year deadline for completion of this link to the rest of the country.  After this link was completed, Canada prospered but travel was difficult in the 1900’s and children in remote areas did not have the opportunity to attend school without travelling great distances from their homes.

The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Ontario Government came up with a practical solution in 1926.  The Ontario Department of Education hired the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian National Railway and the Ontario Northern Railway to use some of their rail cars as travelling class rooms.  Each ‘school room’ was divided  into two parts, one half with a chalkboard, charts, a map and a library.  The other half of the railcar was used as a very comfortable living quarters for the teacher.  The school cars travelled from place to place with each stop lasting five days at a time.  The children might travel by foot in the summer and by snowshoe in the winter to attend classes.  When Friday arrived the school car would move onto the next destination, leaving the students with enough homework to last until the school car arrived again.

The Canadian National Railroad Viaduct in Port Hope Ontario.  The Grand Trunk Railway built this bridge in 1856 to span the Ganaraska River valley.  This 1,856  foot long (564 m) bridge now called the Prince Albert Bridge was at the time the second largest engineering challenge of the railroad, the first challenge was the massive Victoria Bridge in Montreal.  The Grand Trunk’s Price Albert viaduct was the final connection for its Montreal to Toronto mainline.  Named after Prince Albert, the husband and consort of Queen Victoria, he was very well known for his enthusiastic endorsement of new and high technologies.  The bridge was extensively rebuilt between 1887-1893 and is now double tracked.  In 1823, the Grand Trunk railway declared bankruptcy and was amalgamated as the Canadian Government’s Canadian National Railway.  The GTR had previously leased the Grand Junction, Great Western and the Midland Railway and all other smaller lines in Ontario and later purchased them to expand their operations.  Now under new management, the company earned a reputation for service, innovation and reliability.  Many new structures were built and obsolete or redundant stations were demolished.

The Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway bridge north of Campbellcroft and west a short distance on Concession ten was built by the PHL&B Company was established in 1854 from their charter to build a railroad from the Town Port Hope, running through the former Hope Township north-west to Millbrook in Cavan Township to Bethany in Manvers Township and then onto Lindsay Ontario.  By 1858, a branch line was built from Millbrook north/east to Peterborough which was later extended to Lakefield.  In 1869 the railway was renamed the Midland Railroad of Canada and was extended to Beaverton and Midland Ontario.  After an enormous merger of smaller railroads in southern Ontario, including the Whitby, Port Perry & Lindsay Railway, Victoria Railway, the Toronto & Ottawa and the Grand Junction Railway, they now controlled 475 miles (763 km) of tracks.


By 1893 the Grand Trunk obtained ownership of the Midland Railway Company.  In 1920 the railroad was absorbed into the Canadian National system.  In 1951, the last passenger train, the “Cannonball Express” hauled by CNR engine left the town of Port Hope for its last trip north on this line.

Regards,  Ranger

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