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Although in Canada the trains carrying the regiments to the Northwest Rebellion in 1885 could be called the first "troop trains", it was not until the First World War that the phrase applied to such large-scale efforts. During that war, supplies and soldiers had to be continually transported around the country and regular passengers were urged not to travel by train unless absolutely necessary. This was a detriment to some companies like the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) and the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP), which had already been struggling with heavy debt when war was declared. Government had a new demand on its purse and wartime prices rose. The railways were committed to do their duty in moving supplies and troops, but the government's transport rates were low. It helped to sink both railways. The former competitors were both assumed by the Canadian National Railways before the war was over.
The Second World War occurred when passenger trains were on the demise. This time, the demands on the railways proved to be more remunerative and for some, actually boosted their declining revenues. After the war, the progress was reversed.
Soldiers lifting steel from a Canadian National Railway line in Yellowhead, B.C., during the First World War. The rails were laid in France to transport supplies
Crowded weekend trains, May 1943. During the war, the railways were overtaxed by passenger traffic
Troops waiting for a train during the Second World War, Montréal, 1942
Excerpt of a silent film showing Canadian troops boarding a train at Hamilton, in 1917, for service in World War I
(running time: 47 s)
Visit the website ARCHIVED - The Kids' Site of Canadian Trains