The locomotive Essex on the Great Western Railway, Canada, at Clifton Depot by the Niagara River in 1859.

Railroads in the 1850s

The world in the mid-19th century was on the brink of industrialization.  Perhaps the first touch of the modern world many colonial Canadians experienced was the introduction of the locomotive.  The railroad was poised to change their lives forever.

The first rail line in Canada opened in 1836.  The Champlain and St. Lawrence ran from St. Jean to Richelieu in Quebec.  John Molson, of Molson’s Brewery, provided 20 percent of the railway’s startup funding.  By 1851, the line operated year round.

In Canada, railroads were paid for using a government guarantee on railway bonds.

Early railroads traveled at the whopping (for the 1830s) speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour.

The public and business world loved the new technology.  The public no longer had to travel in dirt and mud and could travel in the winter.  Businesses liked trains’ speed and punctuality.  Businesses also took advantage of new markets and could offer novel goods for sale.

Not every business prospered.  Taverns located every five miles along roads to feed and house travelers began to disappear.

In Ontario, the British owned Grand Trunk Railway operated between Montreal and Toronto, and between Toronto and Guelph.  By 1880, the line extended southwest to Chicago.

Facts About Early Railroads

Before commercial railways opened, several rail lines were used during construction projects or to traverse short distances.

The first North American rail lines used British locomotives but, as the Encyclopedia Britannica points out, in the new world the “locomotives proved unsuited to the crude track and quickly derailed.”

The first sleeper cars were invented in the 1830s.  The famous Pullman Sleeping Car entered the scene in 1857.  If Rose ever made a lengthy trip, she would have been assured a comfortable trip.

Noxious fumes were a problem as steam engines produced a large amount of smoke.  By the 1880s, many municipal transportation lines were being replaced by electric tram lines and subways.  Today, many trains run on diesel.

Have you ever taken a trip by rail?  Leave a comment below.

Where to Purchase Rose’s Assignment

Rose's Assignment by Melina DrugaThis post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s historical fiction novella, Rose’s Assignment.

Rose excels at sweet talking.  Judith escapes north to Canada searching for freedom.  Two dissimilar women suddenly find their lives connected. Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. Full list of retailers.