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Transcontinental Tour

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Railway

In 1871, the Prince Edward Island (PEI) legislature authorized the construction of a railway to connect one end of the island to the other. One of its biggest political supporters, J.C. Pope, envisioned that the railway would bring great prosperity in the form of industry, employment and tourism. Construction costs, he imagined, would be nothing compared to the money the railway would generate.

Brochure of the Prince Edward Island Railway, 1899, with timetable Map from brochure of the Prince Edward Island Railway, 1899, showing the railway routes and ferry connections

Source

Prince Edward Island Railway, 1899, cover and map

The Railroad Act specified that the Island government would pay 5 000 pounds sterling, per mile, to the building contractors. The number of miles was not specified however, and much more track was laid than necessary. The price tag soared. Further financial problems associated with the line exasperated Island politicians and thrust them towards the union they had previously fiercely resisted -- Confederation.

One of PEI's biggest demands in the 1873 Confederation negotiations was that the federal government take over the railway and guarantee operation of a continuous water (or other) link to the mainland. Canada kept its promise, taking over the line and operating a ferry service to New Brunswick. Canadian National ran trains on the Island for the last time in 1989. The link to the mainland now takes the form of the Confederation Bridge.

Brochure of the Prince Edward Island Railway, 1905 Photographs from brochure of the Prince Edward Island Railway, 1905, showing people on a cliff and a woman in a field

Source

Prince Edward Island Railway, 1905, covers and photographs

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