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In 1893, Thomas Robertson and his partner received a charter to build a narrow gauge railway from Yarmouth to Lockeport, a distance of approximately one hundred miles along the south shore of Nova Scotia. The aim was to provide better communication and passenger service along the coast.
When construction began, the company found itself competing with the South Shore Railway, also following the south coast and heading for Halifax. The rivalry was bitter and lasted until the South Shore Railway, overextended financially, went into liquidation. Financially, the Coast Railway was not much better off but they continued construction, switching to a standard gauge. By 1897 however, the railway had only reached Pubnico (approximately 28 miles from Yarmouth) and although the very popular "Summer-land by the sea" excursions had begun, the railway ran out of money.
Coast Railway, 1897, cover, frontispiece and title page
In 1899, the company reorganized and changed its name to the Halifax & Yarmouth Railway. That company was later folded into the Halifax & South Western Railway, owned by Mackenzie and Mann of Canadian Northern fame. The line was continued to Halifax and was assumed by Canadian National Railways at the end of the First World War.
Atlantic Railway, 1924
The Dominion Atlantic Railway (DAR) was incorporated in 1895, after the Windsor & Annapolis Railway bought the Yarmouth & Annapolis Railway (the old Western Counties Railway) and changed its name. The railway originally ran from Yarmouth to Halifax and points beyond, but soon set about acquiring other lines.
Dominion Atlantic Railway, 1934
While the railway's intended freight was the rich produce of the Annapolis valley, the company paid much attention to passenger travel, especially tourists, and advertised heavily. The attention to American travellers caused some anger in the region: the Yarmouth Steamship Company had a heavy presence in American tourist traffic and when the DAR began running their own steamships for the same reason, they became a competitor. This move, along with the acquisition of the Midland Railway that ran from Windsor to Truro, enabled the DAR to dominate the freight and passenger business for western Nova Scotia.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) noticed. It officially leased the DAR in 1912, but allowed it to retain its corporate identity, including the recognizable promotions featuring Longfellow's Acadian heroine, Evangeline. The DAR was closed in 1994.
Dominion Atlantic Railway, 1935, cover, frontispiece and title page
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