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Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario

2017-07-09

In 1853, caught up in the excitement and foreseeing the benefits of a railway, the municipalities in the United Counties of Lanark and Renfrew secured land and agreed to underwrite the Brockville and Ottawa Railway Company (B&O) to the tune of £200,000.

The first phase of the railway started at Brockville and ran to Smiths Falls. It was to be continued to Arnprior and Pembroke, with several branch lines to Westport, Newboro, and Merrickville. Only a line to Perth was realized.

The inaugural run from Brockville to Smiths Falls began on a sub-zero February morning in 1859. Travelling at 15 mph, the wood-burning locomotive carrying two coaches filled with passengers took 2 ½ hours to reach Smiths Falls. The trip to Perth took another 7 hours because of a broken coupling and lack of water. Five years of construction took a heavy toll on the B&O: interest payments could not be met and refinancing had to be arranged.

The line was extended to Carleton Place in 1859 and reached the Ottawa River through Almonte, Arnprior, and Sand Point in 1864. B & O turned over the right to build from Arnprior to Pembroke to Canada Central Railway and the line was extended through Renfrew County in the 1870s. Both companies were united under Canadian Pacific Railway Company and linked with a transcontinental network in 1881.

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