List of defunct Canadian railways

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Most transportation historians date the history of Canada's railways as beginning on February 25, 1832, with the incorporation of British North America's first steam-powered railway, the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad. This line opened for traffic on July 21, 1836, although there are cases of animal-drawn mining tramways in Nova Scotia from the 18th century onward.

Thousands of railways followed the C&SL and were given a charter by the federal or provincial governments, although in most cases these charters never resulted in an actual line being constructed. Many of these charters were so-called "paper railways" and were absorbed into other railways, that is they existed on paper with the actual trains bearing the name of another railway or system of railways. For example, Canadian National Railways alone consisted of over some 400 railways (see Canadian National Railways-List of Companies).

The reason for these "paper" railways was the ease of getting a charter, this was often done by a major railway such as Canadian Pacific Railway or Grand Trunk Railway but, the true interests were kept hidden to keep attention away from the efforts of competing major railways to gain access to another’s territory. In other instances local interests wanted a railway to connect their community with the main line of a major railway that did not enter their town, or to connect to another major railway for competitive reasons, to get lower freight rates, something that remains to this day. In many cases these local efforts were quickly taken over by a major railway to both expand its own network and to deny its competition access to traffic.

Streetcar and interurban railways were chartered provincially, in the case of Ontario under the Street Railway Act.

Non-common carrier railways did not require a charter under the Railway Act since they were used primarily for the owners own purposes, mainly logging and mining.

American railroads always operated in Canada under charters of subsidiary railways even though most had equipment lettered only for the parent company. Most U.S. railroads also operated in Canada through subsidiary railways with one exception: Wabash Railway which had not a mile of track in Canada as it crossed southern Ontario using trackage rights granted by the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada. These rights still exist with present day Canadian National and Norfolk Southern.


This list of defunct railways includes only those railways that actually came into existence. Many were taken over by other railways or had a name change and thus continued to operate trains over the same tracks. A few ceased to exist because they went out of business and were abandoned and dismantled.

For simplicity on this list, Canadian National Railways (CNR) (pre-1960), Canadian National Railway (CN) (post-1960), Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), and Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) will be abbreviated for notations. Others will be abbreviated as required.

Also consult the list of active Canadian railways.

A[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Alberta Railway and Navigation CompanyAcquired by CPR.
Alberta and Great Waterways RailwayAcquired by NAR.
Albion Railwaycentral Nova ScotiaSecond railway in British North America. Abandoned.
Algoma Central Railwaynorthwestern Ontario1899–1995Acquired by WC.
Algoma Eastern RailwayAcquired by CPR in 1930 by 999-year lease
Alma and Jonquières RailwayMerged into RS.
Atlantic and North-West Railwaysoutheastern Quebec, central MaineAcquired by CPR.
Atlantic, Quebec and Western RailwayAcquired by CNR.

B[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Bay of Quinte RailwayAcquired by CNoR.
Botwood Railwaycentral Newfoundland ?-1956Subsidiary of AND. Sold to become GFC.
Brantford, Hamilton and Western Railway
British Columbia Electric RailwayOwned by BCH. Sold to become SRY.
British Columbia RailwayBritish Columbia1972–2004Acquired by CN.
Brockville and Ottawa RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Brockville, Westport and North-Western RailwayAcquired by CNoR.
Bruce Mines and Algoma Railway
Buchans Railwaycentral NewfoundlandOwned by ASARCO. Abandoned.
Buctouche and Moncton Railwaysoutheastern New BrunswickAcquired by CNR.
Burlington Northern Manitoba Limitedcentral Manitoba1971–1999Subsidiary of BN. Renamed to BNSFM.
Bytown and Prescott Railway1854–1884Leased by CPR for 999 years. Abandoned in 1995.

C[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Canada and Gulf Terminal Railwayeastern Quebec ?-1975Acquired by CN.
Calgary and Edmonton RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Campbellford, Lake Ontario and Western RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Canada Air Line RailwaySubsidiary of GWR.
Canada Atlantic Railwaycentral, eastern Ontario, western Quebec1890–1914Acquired by GTR.
Canadian Atlantic RailwayQuébec via Maine to New Brunswick1988–1994Part of CPR mainline east of Lac-Mégantic, divested 1994 as Canadian American Railroad (bankrupt 2001) and later MM&A (bankrupt 2013). Portion east of Brownville is Irving's New Brunswick Southern Railway.
Canadian American RailroadQuébec to Maine1994–2002Iron Road Railways segment of CP's former Canadian Atlantic Railway from Lennoxville to Brownville, Maine, bankrupt 2001.
Canada Central RailwayAcquried by CPR.
Canada Coal and Railroad Companynorthwestern Nova Scotia1905–1906Sold to become MCR&PC.
Canada Coals and Railway Companynorthwestern Nova Scotia1892–1905Sold to become CC&RC.
Canada Southern RailwayAcquired by MCRR, later NYC. Sold to CPR and CN. Abandoned.
Canadian Atlantic Railwayeastern Quebec, Maine, western New Brunswick, western Nova Scotia1988–1994CPR subsidiary created to operate lines east of Montreal including DAR. Portions abandoned or sold by 1994 to NBSR, EMR, CDAC, and WHRC.
Canadian Government RailwaysMaritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba1915–1918Entrusted to CNR. Corporate entity sold to CN in 1993 for $1.
Canadian National Electric RailwaysDivision of CNR.
Canadian Pacific Electric LinesDivision of CPR.
Canadian Northern RailwayNova Scotia, Quebec to British Columbia1899–1918Nationalized into CNR.
Canadian Northern Alberta RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Branchlines CompanyConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Consolidated RailwaysConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Manitoba RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Montreal Tunnel and Terminal CompanyConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Ontario RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Pacific RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Quebec RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Saskatchewan RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Western RailwayConstituent company of CNoR.
Cape Breton Development Corporation RailwaySold to SCR.
Cape Breton Railway
Cape Breton Eastern Extension Railway
Caraquet Railwaynortheastern New BrunswickAcquired by CNR.
Central Canada Railway
Central Ontario RailwayAcquired by CNoR.
Central Railway of New BrunswickAcquired by CPR.
Central Vermont RailwayAlso a defunct U.S. railroad. Subsidiary of GTR, later CNR. Became NECR.
Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroadsouthwestern Quebec1836–1857First railway in British North America. Acquired by M&CR.
Chatham, Wallaceburg and Lake Erie RailwayInterurban railway.
Columbia and Kootenay RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Columbia and Western RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Cornwallis Valley RailwayAcquired by DAR.
Credit Valley RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Cumberland Railway and Coal CompanyAbandoned.

D[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Detroit River Tunnel CompanySubsidiary of CASO/MCRR.
Devco RailwayCape Breton, NS1968-2001Former DOSCO coal hauler, assets acquired by Sydney Coal Railway
Dominion Atlantic Railwaywestern Nova Scotia1894–1994Acquired by CPR in 1912, after 1988 was operated as part of CAR. Sold to become WHRC.
Dominion Coal Company
Dominion Timber and Minerals RailwayLaurentian Mountains (Western Quebec) Kilmar, Black Lake, Lachute, Marlean1916-1981Subsidiary of CRL.

E[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia RailwayAcquired by NAR.
Edmonton Yukon and Pacific RailwayAcquired by CNoR.
Elgin and Havelock Railwaycentral New BrunswickAcquired by CGR.
Erie and Huron RailwayAcquired by CASO.
Esquimalt and Nanaimo RailwayAcquired by CPR. Sold 2006 to become Southern Railway of Vancouver Island.
European and North American Railwaysouthern New Brunswick1857–1872Eastern extension merged into IRC. Western extension became part of NBR.

F[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Fredericton and Grand Lake Railwaycentral and western New BrunswickAcquired by CPR.

G[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Georgian Bay and Seaboard RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Glengarry and Stormont Railway
Grand Falls Central Railwaycentral Newfoundland1956–1977Abandoned.
Grand River RailwayAcquired by CPR, merged into CPEL.
Grand Trunk Pacific RailwayManitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia1914–1920Nationalized into CNR.
Grand Trunk RailwayOntario, Quebec, New England1852–1923Nationalized into CNR.
Great North West Central RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Great Northern Railway (U.S.)A trans U.S. railway that had a railway in the BC Fraser Valley competing with CP for the natural resources.
Great Northern Railway of Canada
Great Western Railwaysouthwestern Ontario1853–1884Acquired by GTR
Guelph and Goderich RailwayAcquired by CPR.

H[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Halifax and South Western Railwaysouthwestern Nova Scotia1901–1918Merged into CNoR, nationalized by CNR.
Hamilton and North Western RailwayAcquired by GTR.
Hamilton Radial Electric Railway
Harpoon Logging Railwaycentral Newfoundland
Hudson Bay RailwayCharter acquired by CNoR, subsequently built by CNR.
Huntsville and Lake of Bays RailwayPortage railway.

I[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Inverness Railway and Coal CompanyAcquired by CNoR.
Intercolonial Railway of CanadaOperated by CGR, entrusted to CNR.
International RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa RailwayAcquired by CNoR.

J[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Joggins Railwaynorthwestern Nova Scotia1883–1892Sold to become CC&RC.

K[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Kaslo and Slocan RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Kettle Valley RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Kingston and Pembroke RailwayKingston to Renfrew1884-1913Acquired by CPR, dismantled 1950s.

L[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence Junction RailwayRichelieu River valley of southeastern Quebec1879–1880Leased to the South Eastern Railway 1880. Acquired by CPR 1887.
Lake Erie and Detroit RailwaySubsidiary of PM, later CO. Abandoned.
Lake Erie and Northern RailwayAcquired by CPR, merged into CPEL.
Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal CompanyAcquired by CNoR.
Laurentian RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Lindsay Bobcaygeon and Pontypool RailwayAcquired by CPR by 999 year lease.
London and Lake Erie Railway and Transportation CompanySouthwestern Ontario1909–1918Abandoned - Formerly South Western Traction Company.
London and Port Stanley Railwaysouthwestern Ontario1853–1965Acquired by CN.
Lotbinière and Megantic RailwaySaint-Jean-Deschaillons, Sainte-Philomène and Lyster (Mégantic)1889-1909Merged to Quebec Railway, Light, Heat and Power Co (QRLHP),[1] acquired by CGR.

M[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Maine Central Railroadsouthwestern New BrunswickSold and renamed GRS/ST.
Manitoba Great Northern RailwaySubsidiary of GN.
Manitoba and North Western RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Maritime Coal Railway and Power Companynorthwestern Nova Scotia1906–1961Abandoned.
Massawippi Valley RailwayEastern Townships of Québec1870-1990Leased by Quebec Central Railway (CPR) 1926-1990, abandoned, tracks removed 1992.
Metropolitan Electric Railway
Michigan Central RailroadOperated in Canada as CASO.
Midland Railway of CanadaAcquired by GTR.
Midland Railway of ManitobaSubsidiary of GN.
Millertown RailwaySubsidiary of AND. Abandoned.
Montreal and Champlain Railroad1857–1872Acquired by GTR.
Montreal and Ottawa RailwayAcquired by CPR. CP operates to Rigaud, line from Rigaud to Ottawa abandoned and sold to Via Rail.
Montreal and Vermont Junction RailwayAcquired by CNR.
Montreal, Maine and Atlantic RailwayFarnham, Quebec/Brownville, Maine2003-2013Under bankruptcy protection, authority to operate in Canada revoked.
Montreal Tramways Company
Montreal Suburban Tramway and PowerOwned Dominion Park
Morrissey Fernie and Michel RailwaySubsidiary of CPCC.

N[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Nakusp and Slocan RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Napierville Junction RailwayRouses Point, NY to Delson Jct. QCSubsidiary of DH.
National Transcontinental RailwayManitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick1912–1918Operated by CGR, entrusted to CNR.
Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway ?-1898Acquired by GN.
New Brunswick Coal and RailwayAcquired by CPR.
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island RailwayAcquired by CGR.
New Brunswick RailwayAcquired by CPR.
New Westminster Southern Railway CompanySubsidiary of GN.
Newfoundland RailwayNewfoundland1892–1949Entrusted to CNR.
Newfoundland and Northwestern RailwayNewfoundlandAcquired by NR.
Niagara Falls Park and River Railway
Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto RailwayAcquired by CNR, merged into CNEL.
North Shore RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Northern Alberta Railwaysnorthern Alberta1929–1981Acquired by CNR.
Northern Pacific and Manitoba RailwaySubsidiary of NP.
Northern Railway of CanadaAcquired by GTR.
Nosbonsing & Nipissing RailwayAbandoned.
Nova Scotia Central RailwayAcquired by CNoR.
Nova Scotia Southern RailwayAcquired by H&SW
Nova Scotia Railwaycentral Nova Scotia1853–1867Merged into IRC.

O[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Ontario and Quebec RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Ontario L'Orignal Railwayeastern Ontario1996–2001Acquired by OCR.
Orford Mountain RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Oshawa RailwayAcquired by CNR.
Ottawa and New York RailwayEastern Ontario1898–1957Subsidiary of NYC.
Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound RailwayAcquired by CAR.
Ottawa Northern and Western RailwayAcquired by CPR.

P[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Pacific Great Eastern RailwayBritish Columbia1913–1972Renamed BCR.
Parry Sound Colonization RailwayOntario1887–1892Acquired by OA&PS.
Pontiac Pacific Junction RailwayQuebec1880–1903Merged with Ottawa Northern and Western Railway.
Port Arthur, Duluth and Western RailwayOntario1889–1938Abanadoned
Prince Edward Island RailwayPrince Edward Island1871–1918Operated by CGR, entrusted to CNR.

Q[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Quebec and Lake St. John RailwayAcquired by CNoR.
Quebec and Saguenay RailwayAcquired by CNR.
Quebec Central RailwayEastern Townships and BeauceAcquired by CPR 1911. Dormant 1994–2000, and again from 2006.
Quebec, Montreal and Southern RailwaySubsidiary of DH, acquired by CN.
Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Quebec Oriental RailwayAcquired by CNR.
Quebec Railway Light and Power CompanyAcquired by CNR.
Quebec Southern Railway[disambiguation needed]

R[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Red Mountain RailwayRossland to Paterson BC1897–1921Subsidiary of Great Northern Railway. Also named Columbia and Red Mountain Railway in Washington State.
Rutland and Noyan RailwaySubsidiary of RUT. Abandoned.

S[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
St. Eustache RailwayAcquired by CPR.
St. John and Quebec RailwayAcquired by CNR.
St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroadsouthwestern Quebec1853-1853Acquired by GTR.
St. Lawrence and Hudson RailwayOntario, Quebec, New England1996–2001Subsidiary of CPR created to operate lines in eastern North America. Merged back into parent company.
St. Lawrence and Ottawa RailwayAcquired by CPR.
St. Mary's and Western RailwayAcquired by CPR.
St. Maurice Valley RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Schomberg and Aurora Railway
Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway
Smoky Falls RailwaySubsidiary of SFPPC.
South Ontario Pacific RailwayAcquired by CPR.
South Western Traction CompanyOntario1902–1908Became London and Lake Erie Railway and Transportation Company.
Sydney and Louisburg RailwayCape Breton Island1895–1966Acquired by DEVCO, line to Louisbourg is now defunct.

T[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Temiscouata Railwayeastern Quebec, northwestern New Brunswick1870–1949Acquired by CNR.
Terra TransportNewfoundland1977–1988Division of CN. Abandoned.
Thousand Islands RailwayAcquired by GTR.
Thurso and Nation Valley RailwaySubsidiary of SC.
Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railwaynortheastern Ontario1902–1946Renamed to ONR.
Tillsonburg Lake Erie and Pacific RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railwaysouth-west Ontario1871–1883Acquired by O&Q.
Toronto and Nipissing Railwaysouth-central Ontario1871–1883Amalgamated into Midland Railway of Canada.
Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railwaysouthwestern Ontario1892–1987Acquired by CPR.
Toronto Suburban RailwayAcquired by CNoR.

U[edit]

V[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Vancouver and Lulu Island RailwayAcquired by CPR subsequently leased to BCER.
Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway
Vancouver, Westminster and Yukon Railway
Victoria and Sidney RailwaySubsidiary of GN. Known as "the Cordwood Limited"
Victoria Terminal Railway and Ferry Companylater acquired by the Great Northern Railway

W[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Wabash RailroadOperated over running rights on CAL, later CN. WAB merged into NW, later NS.
Walkerton and Lucknow RailwayAcquired by CPR.
West Ontario Pacific RailwayAcquired by CPR.
Western Counties RailwayMerged with W&A into DAR.
Windsor and Annapolis RailwayNova Scotiaopened August 18, 1869Merged with WCR into DAR.
Windsor, Essex and Lake Shore Rapid Railway

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Railway nameLocaleOperating yearsComments
Yarmouth and Annapolis RailwayRenamed WCR.

Z[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://bilan.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/pages/evenements/143.html