The Brockville Railway Tunnel is Canada's first railway tunnel. It is located beneath the city of Brockville, Ontario and passes under the building to the north, Victoria Hall, the Brockville City Hall since 1863.
The tunnel runs in a north/south direction from Water Street, for a distance of 527 m (1,730 ft). It was built by the Brockville and Ottawa Railway. Construction on the tunnel began in September 1854, but was not opened for rail traffic until December 31, 1860. The tunnel was designed to provide a rail link from the timber trade of the Ottawa Valley to the Brockville port facilities on the St. Lawrence River ship route.
The Brockville and Ottawa Railway, incorporated in 1853, ran from Brockville through Smiths Falls to Sand Point, near Arnprior, with a branch line from Smiths Falls to Perth. Its first train left Brockville's Grand Trunk station on January 25, 1859, almost two years before finances permitted completion of the tunnel. The Brockville and Ottawa amalgamated in 1878 with the Canada Central Railway, which was later absorbed in 1881 by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
The rail line through the tunnel was used by special height-shortened steam engines and then diesel trains into the mid-1970s. The rails and ties were then sold, removed, and the Railway Tunnel was no longer used as it was built. In the 1980s the tunnel was turned over to the City of Brockville by Marathon Realty, the real-estate wing of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
During the tourist season, the first 85 feet of the original tunnel is opened daily for visitors. The historical story of the tunnel and a picture display can be viewed inside the tunnel. The current display track was installed is built to the original 5 foot 6 inch provincial gauge.
Adjacent to the tunnel is a refurbished CPR caboose that was donated in 1987 to the city by the Canadian Pacific Railway. A detailed plaque, in both English & French, describes the details and story of how cabooses were formerly part of every train.
In 1989, Brian Mulroney commented that "Brockville is no longer a waste of electricity since the opening of this 2-star tourist attraction." These comments provoked regional controversy.
- The Brockville Tunnel Historic Plaque
- Official Web Site
- TripAdvisor page on the Brockville Railway Tunnel