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The Sherbrooke Eastern Townships & Kennebec Railway officially opened for business in 1874 and the next year, changed its name to the Quebec Central Railway. Its intended role, as mainly a resource railway, proved prophetic. During construction of the line near the Thetford region, asbestos was discovered. The asbestos industry soon exploded and, as a result, the railway thrived and expanded. A main line extended from Sherbrooke to Lévis and north to Lac Frontière; links were made to the northeast and south with the Temiscouata and Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR). New England tourists comprised much of the railway's passenger lists.
In 1912, CPR leased the railway. Revenues diminished however, and by the early 1990s, most of the line had been abandoned and stations closed. In a rare reversal of railway fortune, the Express-Marco Company of Montréal purchased the track between Sherbrooke and Vallée Jonction from the CPR and re-opened it. It continues to operate as the Quebec Central Railway.
Quebec Central Railway, 1893-1894, cover and map
Temiscouata Railway, 1912
In 1887, the charter for the Témiscouata Railway was approved and construction began on a road from Rivière-du-Loup to Edmundston. The intent was to use the line to export lumber from New Brunswick to Quebec and exploit the traffic generated by the area's growing population. The company also advertised to tourists, targeting fishermen and nature-lovers with the logo, "The Sportsman's Route," painted on its cars.
Temiscouata Railway, 1893
Initial construction costs of the railway had been adequately covered; but over the years, heavy operating costs, a fluctuating lumber market and competition in the form of the Transcontinental all contributed to the railway's demise. The federal government took over partial operations in 1929 and in 1950 Canadian National Railways absorbed the line. The last part of the original track was abandoned in 1990.
After the Champlain & St. Lawrence Railway (1836) proved to be a viable business venture, other railways began to spring up in Quebec. In 1852, a charter was acquired to form the Grand Trunk Railway in two parts: one for Canada East (present-day Quebec) and one for Canada West (present-day Ontario). Its primary aim was to connect Montréal and Toronto, and keep up with the flurry of railroad building in the States.
The company exploded. By Confederation, the Grand Trunk Railway had more track than any other railway in the world. The first of their broad gauge lines ran from Longueuil (Montréal) to Portland, Maine. In 1856, the line between Montréal and Toronto was completed. That trip, which had previously taken at least thirty-six hours to complete by stagecoach, was now possible in under half that time. The GTR absorbed many smaller companies and lines but was heavily subsidized by the federal government and in chronic debt. To worsen the situation, it made a bad move in 1903 by forming a money-losing subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Pacific. In 1923, it joined the Canadian National Railways (CNR).
Grand Trunk Railway, 1908, cover and map
Grand Trunk Railway, 1913-1914
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