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Transcontinental Tour

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland Railway

Photo of Newfoundland Railway train, somewhere along the line, c. 1900


Newfoundland Railway train, somewhere along the line, Newfoundland, c. 1900

Until the coming of the railway, mass transportation and travel in Newfoundland consisted mainly of coastal steamers and other water transport. There were few roads and a journey to the interior of the island was next to impossible. This changed when, in 1882, trains began running on the Newfoundland Railway.

The venture was backed by New York's Blackman Company, but was soon taken over by the Newfoundland government when Blackman's financing collapsed. The original intention was to connect St. John's to Harbour Grace, but subsequent extensions were later constructed under the Reid Company, who had assumed control of the railway's operations soon after the Blackman debacle.

In 1898, R.G. Reid signed a contract with the Newfoundland government to continue operating the line, with the provision that the company could acquire the line outright in fifty years and receive generous land grants besides. The terms soon became a political "hot potato" and a few years later they were forcibly amended.

Brochure of the Reid Newfoundland Railway, 1920, showing colourful illustrations of people fishing and of cariboo Map from brochure of the Reid Newfoundland Railway, 1920, showing the routes of the Reid Newfoundland Railway


Reid Newfoundland Railway, 1920, cover and map

In 1923, the Reids could no longer afford to continue operating the railway and responsibility for the line reverted back to the government of Newfoundland. When the province joined Confederation, in 1949, the Newfoundland Railway became part of the Canadian National Railways (CNR). CN terminated railway operations on the island of Newfoundland in 1988.

Brochure of the Newfoundland Railway, 1928, showing a timetable for June to December 1928 Map from brochure of the Newfoundland Railway, 1928, showing the routes of the Newfoundland Railway


Newfoundland Railway, 1928, cover and map

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