Hudson Bay Railway (1910)

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For the current shortline railway, see Hudson Bay Railway (1997).
Hudson Bay Railway
Locale Manitoba, Saskatchewan
Dates of operation 1910–1929
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Winnipeg

The Hudson Bay Railway is a historic Canadian railway that built a rail line between Winnipeg, Manitoba in the south and Churchill, Manitoba in the north, on the shore of Hudson Bay.

The railway traces its history to charters granted in 1880, five years before the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in Winnipeg. Construction began in 1883 with the first 64 km (40 mi) built north to the Interlake Region. This line was abandoned in 1888 due to financial problems and the charter was acquired by the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) which began construction on a new line between Winnipeg and Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, which was completed in 1908.

CNoR reached the banks of the Saskatchewan River at The Pas the following year in 1909 but refused to build further north without massive government assistance. That year the Government of Canada committed to constructing a line north from The Pas and in 1910 the Hudson Bay Railway was formed. Merged into the Canadian Government Railways, construction proceeded in stages after a railway bridge was constructed over the Saskatchewan River at The Pas in 1910-1911. Although initial surveys were done to both ports of Churchill and Port Nelson, it was decided to proceed toward Port Nelson in 1912. But when the port project in Port Nelson was abandoned, construction on the railway came to an end, having reached Kettle Rapids.[1]

Work was suspended during the First World War and following the war, the railway financing crisis pre-occupied the governnment as the CNoR was merged with the Canadian Government Railways and Grand Trunk Railway in stages between 1918-1923 to form the Canadian National Railways. The federal government undertook in 1927 to complete the railway to Churchill. Political interference, financing difficulties, and engineering challenges by the large amount of muskeg and frequent rock outcrops on the Canadian Shield led to inevitable delays. The line to Churchill was completed March 29, 1929 and it opened for traffic on September 10, 1929.

The name disappeared as the line became part of the CNR system. CNR subsequently built resource railways from The Pas to Flin Flon, opening in 1928, followed by an extension on this line from Cranberry Portage, to Lynn Lake, opening November 9, 1953.

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