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 name Locale Operating years Comments
Alberta Railway and Navigation Company Acquired by CPR.
Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Acquired by NAR.
Albion Railway central Nova Scotia Second railway in British North America. Abandoned.
Algoma Central Railway northwestern Ontario 1899–1995 Acquired by WC.
Algoma Eastern Railway Acquired by CPR in 1930 by 999-year lease
Alma and Jonquières Railway Merged into RS.
Atlantic and North-West Railway southeastern Quebec, central Maine Acquired by CPR.
Atlantic, Quebec and Western Railway Acquired by CNR.

B[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Bay of Quinte Railway Acquired by CNoR.
Botwood Railway central Newfoundland  ?-1956 Subsidiary of AND. Sold to become GFC.
Brantford, Hamilton and Western Railway
British Columbia Electric Railway Owned by BCH. Sold to become SRY.
British Columbia Railway British Columbia 1972–2004 Acquired by CN.
Brockville and Ottawa Railway Acquired by CPR.
Brockville, Westport and North-Western Railway Acquired by CNoR.
Bruce Mines and Algoma Railway
Buchans Railway central Newfoundland Owned by ASARCO. Abandoned.
Buctouche and Moncton Railway southeastern New Brunswick Acquired by CNR.
Burlington Northern Manitoba Limited central Manitoba 1971–1999 Subsidiary of BN. Renamed to BNSFM.
Bytown and Prescott Railway 1854–1884 Leased by CPR for 999 years. Abandoned in 1995.

C[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Canada and Gulf Terminal Railway eastern Quebec  ?-1975 Acquired by CN.
Calgary and Edmonton Railway Acquired by CPR.
Campbellford, Lake Ontario and Western Railway Acquired by CPR.
Canada Air Line Railway Subsidiary of GWR.
Canada Atlantic Railway central, eastern Ontario, western Quebec 1890–1914 Acquired by GTR.
Canadian Atlantic Railway Québec via Maine to New Brunswick 1988–1994 Part 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 Railroad Québec to Maine 1994–2002 Iron Road Railways segment of CP's former Canadian Atlantic Railway from Lennoxville to Brownville, Maine, bankrupt 2001.
Canada Central Railway Acquried by CPR.
Canada Coal and Railroad Company northwestern Nova Scotia 1905–1906 Sold to become MCR&PC.
Canada Coals and Railway Company northwestern Nova Scotia 1892–1905 Sold to become CC&RC.
Canada Southern Railway Acquired by MCRR, later NYC. Sold to CPR and CN. Abandoned.
Canadian Atlantic Railway eastern Quebec, Maine, western New Brunswick, western Nova Scotia 1988–1994 CPR subsidiary created to operate lines east of Montreal including DAR. Portions abandoned or sold by 1994 to NBSR, EMR, CDAC, and WHRC.
Canadian Government Railways Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba 1915–1918 Entrusted to CNR. Corporate entity sold to CN in 1993 for $1.
Canadian National Electric Railways Division of CNR.
Canadian Pacific Electric Lines Division of CPR.
Canadian Northern Railway Nova Scotia, Quebec to British Columbia 1899–1918 Nationalized into CNR.
Canadian Northern Alberta Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Branchlines Company Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Consolidated Railways Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Manitoba Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Montreal Tunnel and Terminal Company Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Ontario Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Pacific Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Quebec Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Saskatchewan Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Canadian Northern Western Railway Constituent company of CNoR.
Cape Breton Development Corporation Railway Sold to SCR.
Cape Breton Railway
Cape Breton Eastern Extension Railway
Caraquet Railway northeastern New Brunswick Acquired by CNR.
Central Canada Railway
Central Ontario Railway Acquired by CNoR.
Central Railway of New Brunswick Acquired by CPR.
Central Vermont Railway Also a defunct U.S. railroad. Subsidiary of GTR, later CNR. Became NECR.
Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad southwestern Quebec 1836–1857 First railway in British North America. Acquired by M&CR.
Chatham, Wallaceburg and Lake Erie Railway Interurban railway.
Columbia and Kootenay Railway Acquired by CPR.
Columbia and Western Railway Acquired by CPR.
Cornwallis Valley Railway Acquired by DAR.
Credit Valley Railway Acquired by CPR.
Cumberland Railway and Coal Company Abandoned.

D[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Detroit River Tunnel Company Subsidiary of CASO/MCRR.
Devco Railway Cape Breton, NS 1968-2001 Former DOSCO coal hauler, assets acquired by Sydney Coal Railway
Dominion Atlantic Railway western Nova Scotia 1894–1994 Acquired by CPR in 1912, after 1988 was operated as part of CAR. Sold to become WHRC.
Dominion Coal Company
Dominion Timber and Minerals Railway Laurentian Mountains (Western Quebec) Kilmar, Black Lake, Lachute, Marlean 1916-1981 Subsidiary of CRL.

E[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway Acquired by NAR.
Edmonton Yukon and Pacific Railway Acquired by CNoR.
Elgin and Havelock Railway central New Brunswick Acquired by CGR.
Erie and Huron Railway Acquired by CASO.
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Acquired by CPR. Sold 2006 to become Southern Railway of Vancouver Island.
European and North American Railway southern New Brunswick 1857–1872 Eastern extension merged into IRC. Western extension became part of NBR.

F[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Fredericton and Grand Lake Railway central and western New Brunswick Acquired by CPR.

G[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Georgian Bay and Seaboard Railway Acquired by CPR.
Glengarry and Stormont Railway
Grand Falls Central Railway central Newfoundland 1956–1977 Abandoned.
Grand River Railway Acquired by CPR, merged into CPEL.
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia 1914–1920 Nationalized into CNR.
Grand Trunk Railway Ontario, Quebec, New England 1852–1923 Nationalized into CNR.
Great North West Central Railway Acquired 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 Railway southwestern Ontario 1853–1884 Acquired by GTR
Guelph and Goderich Railway Acquired by CPR.

H[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Halifax and South Western Railway southwestern Nova Scotia 1901–1918 Merged into CNoR, nationalized by CNR.
Hamilton and North Western Railway Acquired by GTR.
Hamilton Radial Electric Railway
Harpoon Logging Railway central Newfoundland
Hudson Bay Railway Charter acquired by CNoR, subsequently built by CNR.
Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway Portage railway.

I[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Inverness Railway and Coal Company Acquired by CNoR.
Intercolonial Railway of Canada Operated by CGR, entrusted to CNR.
International Railway Acquired by CPR.
Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway Acquired by CNoR.

J[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Joggins Railway northwestern Nova Scotia 1883–1892 Sold to become CC&RC.

K[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Kaslo and Slocan Railway Acquired by CPR.
Kelowna Pacific Railway Okanagan Valley, British Columbia 1999 - 2013 Entered receivership July 2013. CN once again operates the line.
Kettle Valley Railway Acquired by CPR.
Kingston and Pembroke Railway Kingston to Renfrew 1884-1913 Acquired by CPR, dismantled 1950s.

L[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence Junction Railway Richelieu River valley of southeastern Quebec 1879–1880 Leased to the South Eastern Railway 1880. Acquired by CPR 1887.
Lake Erie and Detroit Railway Subsidiary of PM, later CO. Abandoned.
Lake Erie and Northern Railway Acquired by CPR, merged into CPEL.
Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal Company Acquired by CNoR.
Laurentian Railway Acquired by CPR.
Lindsay, Bobcaygeon and Pontypool Railway Acquired by CPR by 999 year lease.
London and Lake Erie Railway and Transportation Company Southwestern Ontario 1909–1918 Abandoned - Formerly South Western Traction Company.
London and Port Stanley Railway southwestern Ontario 1853–1965 Acquired by CN.
Lotbinière and Megantic Railway Saint-Jean-Deschaillons, Sainte-Philomène and Lyster (Mégantic) 1889-1909 Merged to Quebec Railway, Light, Heat and Power Co (QRLHP),[1] acquired by CGR.

M[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Maine Central Railroad southwestern New Brunswick Sold and renamed GRS/ST.
Manitoba Great Northern Railway Subsidiary of GN.
Manitoba and North Western Railway Acquired by CPR.
Maritime Coal Railway and Power Company northwestern Nova Scotia 1906–1961 Abandoned.
Massawippi Valley Railway Eastern Townships of Québec 1870-1990 Leased by Quebec Central Railway (CPR) 1926-1990, abandoned, tracks removed 1992.
Metropolitan Electric Railway
Michigan Central Railroad Operated in Canada as CASO.
Midland Railway of Canada Acquired by GTR.
Midland Railway of Manitoba Subsidiary of GN.
Millertown Railway Subsidiary of AND. Abandoned.
Montreal and Champlain Railroad 1857–1872 Acquired by GTR.
Montreal and Ottawa Railway Acquired by CPR. CP operates to Rigaud, line from Rigaud to Ottawa abandoned and sold to Via Rail.
Montreal and Vermont Junction Railway Acquired by CNR.
Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Farnham, Quebec/Brownville, Maine 2003-2013 Sold in bankruptcy to Fortress Investments as Central Maine and Quebec Railway
Montreal Tramways Company
Montreal Suburban Tramway and Power Owned Dominion Park
Morrissey Fernie and Michel Railway Subsidiary of CPCC.

N[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Nakusp and Slocan Railway Acquired by CPR.
Napierville Junction Railway Rouses Point, NY to Delson Jct. QC Subsidiary of DH.
National Transcontinental Railway Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick 1912–1918 Operated by CGR, entrusted to CNR.
Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway  ?-1898 Acquired by GN.
New Brunswick Coal and Railway Acquired by CPR.
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Railway Acquired by CGR.
New Brunswick Railway Acquired by CPR.
New Westminster Southern Railway Company Subsidiary of GN.
Newfoundland Railway Newfoundland 1892–1949 Entrusted to CNR.
Newfoundland and Northwestern Railway Newfoundland Acquired by NR.
Niagara Falls Park and River Railway
Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway Acquired by CNR, merged into CNEL.
North Shore Railway Acquired by CPR.
Northern Alberta Railways northern Alberta 1929–1981 Acquired by CNR.
Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway Subsidiary of NP.
Northern Railway of Canada Acquired by GTR.
Nosbonsing & Nipissing Railway Abandoned.
Nova Scotia Central Railway Acquired by CNoR.
Nova Scotia Southern Railway Acquired by H&SW
Nova Scotia Railway central Nova Scotia 1853–1867 Merged into IRC.

O[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Okanagan Valley Railway Okanagan Valley, British Columbia 1998 - 2009 Shut down due to lack of business.
Ontario and Quebec Railway Acquired by CPR.
Ontario L'Orignal Railway eastern Ontario 1996–2001 Acquired by OCR.
Orford Mountain Railway Acquired by CPR.
Oshawa Railway Acquired by CNR.
Ottawa and New York Railway Eastern Ontario 1898–1957 Subsidiary of NYC.
Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway Acquired by CAR.
Ottawa Northern and Western Railway Acquired by CPR.

P[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Pacific Great Eastern Railway British Columbia 1913–1972 Renamed BCR.
Parry Sound Colonization Railway Ontario 1887–1892 Acquired by OA&PS.
Pontiac Pacific Junction Railway Quebec 1880–1903 Merged with Ottawa Northern and Western Railway.
Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway Ontario 1889–1938 Abanadoned
Prince Edward Island Railway Prince Edward Island 1871–1918 Operated by CGR, entrusted to CNR.

Q[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Quebec and Lake St. John Railway Acquired by CNoR.
Quebec and Saguenay Railway Acquired by CNR.
Quebec Central Railway Eastern Townships and Beauce Acquired by CPR 1911. Dormant 1994–2000, and again from 2006.
Quebec, Montreal and Southern Railway Subsidiary of DH, acquired by CN.
Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway Acquired by CPR.
Quebec Oriental Railway Acquired by CNR.
Quebec Railway Light and Power Company Acquired by CNR.
Quebec Southern Railway[disambiguation needed]

R[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Red Mountain Railway Rossland to Paterson BC 1897–1921 Subsidiary of Great Northern Railway. Also named Columbia and Red Mountain Railway in Washington State.
Rutland and Noyan Railway Subsidiary of RUT. Abandoned.

S[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
St. Eustache Railway Acquired by CPR.
St. John and Quebec Railway Acquired by CNR.
St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad southwestern Quebec 1853-1853 Acquired by GTR.
St. Lawrence and Hudson Railway Ontario, Quebec, New England 1996–2001 Subsidiary of CPR created to operate lines in eastern North America. Merged back into parent company.
St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway Acquired by CPR.
St. Mary's and Western Railway Acquired by CPR.
St. Maurice Valley Railway Acquired by CPR.
Schomberg and Aurora Railway
Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway
Smoky Falls Railway Subsidiary of SFPPC.
South Ontario Pacific Railway Acquired by CPR.
South Western Traction Company Ontario 1902–1908 Became London and Lake Erie Railway and Transportation Company.
Sydney and Louisburg Railway Cape Breton Island 1895–1966 Acquired by DEVCO, line to Louisbourg is now defunct.

T[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Temiscouata Railway eastern Quebec, northwestern New Brunswick 1870–1949 Acquired by CNR.
Terra Transport Newfoundland 1977–1988 Division of CN. Abandoned.
Thousand Islands Railway Acquired by GTR.
Thurso and Nation Valley Railway Subsidiary of SC.
Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway northeastern Ontario 1902–1946 Renamed to ONR.
Tillsonburg Lake Erie and Pacific Railway Acquired by CPR.
Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway south-west Ontario 1871–1883 Acquired by O&Q.
Toronto and Nipissing Railway south-central Ontario 1871–1883 Amalgamated into Midland Railway of Canada.
Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway southwestern Ontario 1892–1987 Acquired by CPR.
Toronto Suburban Railway Acquired by CNoR.

U[edit]

V[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Vancouver and Lulu Island Railway Acquired by CPR subsequently leased to BCER.
Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway
Vancouver, Westminster and Yukon Railway
Victoria and Sidney Railway Subsidiary of GN. Known as "the Cordwood Limited"
Victoria Terminal Railway and Ferry Company later acquired by the Great Northern Railway

W[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Wabash Railroad Operated over running rights on CAL, later CN. WAB merged into NW, later NS.
Walkerton and Lucknow Railway Acquired by CPR.
West Ontario Pacific Railway Acquired by CPR.
Western Counties Railway Merged with W&A into DAR.
Windsor and Annapolis Railway Nova Scotia opened August 18, 1869 Merged with WCR into DAR.
Windsor, Essex and Lake Shore Rapid Railway

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Railway name Locale Operating years Comments
Yarmouth and Annapolis Railway Renamed WCR.

Z[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://bilan.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/pages/evenements/143.html
  • Dorman, Robert: A Statutory History of the Steam and Electric Railways of Canada 1836-1937 Department of Transport, Canada
  • Dorman, Robert: Appendix to above including addition of maps.
  • Dorman, Robert; D.E.Stoltz: A Statutory History of Railways in Canada 1836-1986
  • Old Time Trains
  • Smith, Ivan (1998), Significant Dates in Nova Scotia's Railway History (1850- 1899). Retrieved August 16, 2005.