A new file on the Canadian Pacific has been added, and another file will be added soon. It took 42 years to get to the stage this site started at. It takes a long time to get these files ready.
There are some glaring errors in the existing files, as I say later. I am surprised no one has commented. These will be corrected, too
The site has expanded beyond the original intentions, which was to give the history of the locomotives that belonged to the components that formed the Canadian National Railways.
The intention now is to list all of the steam locomotives that ever ran (on a regular basis) in Canada, including industrial.
The site name will not change. The main purpose of the site is to explore the history of locomotives before 1923. The locomotives built after 1923, at least for common carrier railways, have already been well documented.
We are still experimenting with titles/wording to get search engines to direct searches for rosters of the Grand Trunk, Grand Trunk Pacific, Canadian Northern, Intercolonial and Canadian Government Railways to send you to this site. If you don’t ask the right question, you don’t get the right answer, but search engines are, nevertheless, strange.
All material on this site is copyrighted except where otherwise credited. However, you have permission to print information for non-commercial purposes.
I/we didn’t set up the system and have not yet modified it to suit us. When you register, what will come up is your profile. You have to click on the Pre-CNR with the W. Some users report having trouble finding the site, and accessing information. We are working on it.
The locomotive pictured in the header is Carillon and Grenville number 3, the “Ottawa”. It was renamed from the “Carillon” in 1895, when the original Ottawa was destroyed in an engine house fire. The Carillon and Grenville was the last broad gauge railway in Canada.
The engine was built at Birkenhead, UK, in 1856 for the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, and the railway itself was acquired by the Canadian Northern in 1914. As such, the photo represents most of the time span represented by the main focus of this site, and the two largest privately owned components of the Canadian National Railways. Andrew Merrillees collection. Library and Archives Canada PA-141093.
This site: precnr. info is about pre-cnr information. The main focus is the histories of the railways that contributed to the formation of the Canadian National during 1917 to 1923, hence the site name. However, other railways will also be included. It will start with locomotive histories, an aspect of those histories that have, to date, been little explored. I have a huge amount of data, it will be added as it can be formatted for this site.
This site contains a Grand Trunk Railway all time roster, a Grand Trunk Pacific Railway all time roster, a Canadian Northern Railway all time roster and an Intercolonial/Canadian Government Railways all time roster, but you have to register to access these detailed rosters. Also to be included are other smaller Canadian National Railways components. There is now also an all time roster of the Canadian Pacific, formatted according to my style, with information not in Omer Lavallee’s excellent book. Other pre 1923 locomotives will be added. The original plan was that Canadian locomotive history after 1923 is well documented elsewhere and there were no plans to include the data on this site. (That has changed)
Site under construction. Additional information, corrections and photos welcome. The eventual size of the site will be between one and two thousand pages.
This site was put up in April 2011 (in haste, it would seem) and I did not have time to work on it again that year. Since then I have worked on new files, but most are ready to post -quite yet. In reading the existing files, I find many blatant errors which I am surprised no one has commented on. They will be corrected presently and additional information added. The file on the Grand Trunk Pacific has been corrected.
The information on this site represents many years and thousands of hours of research. It also represent many thousands of dollars, mostly in travel expenses to visit archives. It was not done to publish or even to preserve the history. It was done because I wanted to. Others buy SUVs, I do historical research. As such, it is a work of love, to which my wife will attest.
The information was not originally formatted to fit web pages. Therefore it might be necessary to print some of the tables out to comprehend them.
The formatting represents the author’s objections to most roster formats. The sections for each railway contains a “master roster”, one locomotive, one line, birth to death.
I suffer from the Omer Lavallee complex, and would rather have everything perfect before I present anything. But since that is unlikely ever to happen, corrections will be made as I go along. I have substantial additional data and corrections which I have not yet compiled.
I believe my research, not all of which is yet entered here, on the Canadian Northern, the Grand Trunk, the Intercolonial/Canadian Government and the Canadian Pacific to be the most complete in existence anywhere. All of my roster research on CNR components is based on original documents, with other sources used when the original documents are incomplete, or have been found to be in error.
I still have work to do on the Canadian Government Railways. The CGR documents I have had access to leave something to be desired.
In addition to rosters, this site will include an historical revaluation of transportation in the pre-automotive era, specifically as it applies to the components of the Canadian National, and how the “excesses” of that age are just repeated, bigger and better, in the jet and automotive age.
One interesting little bit of history to start with is that Sir William Mackenzie in 1922, one year before his death, expressed an interest in investing in rubber tires. It seems that he had it figured out that, whoever owned the land transportation facilities of the twentieth century, they would not run on steel wheels.