Grand River Railway

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Grand River Railway
Reporting mark GRNR
Locale Ontario
Dates of operation 1914–1931
Predecessor Galt, Preston and Hespeler Street Railway
Berlin, Waterloo, Wellesley and Lake Huron Railway
Successor Canadian Pacific Electric Lines
Electrification Yes


The Galt, Preston and Hespeler Railway, 1894.
The Galt, Preston and Hespeler Street Railway car barn.
The Preston & Berlin Electric Railway, circa 1905.

The Grand River Railway (reporting mark GRNR) was an electric railway in what is now the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, in Southwestern Ontario. It was an example of a radial railway.

The system initially began as the Galt, Preston and Hespeler electric railway in 1894, first connecting Preston and Galt. The project was spearheaded by Matthew Kirkwood who became the first general manager. More specifically, there was also another company, the Preston & Berlin Street Railway which merged with the Galt, Preston and Hespeler electric railway in 1908.[1] [2] Some sources indicate that the merged entity was initially called the Berlin, Waterloo, Wellesley & Lake Huron Railway Company.[3]

In 1911, the line reached Hespeler, Berlin (later called Kitchener) and Waterloo. In 1914, the company was incorporated as the Grand River Railway. By 1916, the service extended to Brantford/Port Dover.[4][5]

CP Electric Lines[edit]

In 1931, the Lake Erie and Northern Railway, another CPR subsidiary, was consolidated with the GRR to form the Canadian Pacific Electric Lines. CPEL ended operations on October 1, 1961 when freight service was dieselized and assumed by parent CPR.

The CPEL ended passenger services on April 23, 1955, and most passenger service was replaced with buses.


The electric rail system ended passenger services in April, 1955.

A remnant of the GRR/CPEL line remains an active rail corridor in the 21st century as CPR operates an industrial spur to reach a Toyota automobile factory in north Cambridge.

In 2000, the Grand River Railway's name was echoed in the creation of Grand River Transit to unify bus services in the Region of Waterloo.

The Light rail rapid transit in Waterloo Region plan, in the 1990s and later, would be reminiscent of the original Electric Railway.[6] The LRT between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener will start in early 2018. A second phase extension of the LRT to Cambridge has also been approved but in February 2017, this was still in the public consultation stage.[7][8] The LRT's proposed path includes routing along portions of the old Grand River Railway.[9]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "History of electric rail transportation". Cambridge web. 2009. Retrieved 2017-03-15. In 1894 with the completion of the Galt-Preston line, a charter to build an electric rail line between Preston and Berlin (Kitchener) was granted to Thomas Todd of Galt (President of the G & P), Fred Clare of Preston and J.A. Fennel of Kitchener. For various reasons, the Preston and Berlin Street Railway lay dormant until 1900 when it was reorganized. 
  2. ^ Bill Bean (2014-10-24). "LRT began in Galt and Preston in 1894". Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Retrieved 2017-03-14. Interest in electric street railways grew in the area, with the Preston and Berlin Street Railway and the Berlin and Waterloo Street Railway providing service across what is now Waterloo Region. And there were close links between these street railways and the Lake Erie and Northern Railway, which eventually led to 12 trips daily from Galt to Port Dover. 
  3. ^ "PRESTON & BERLIN STREET RAILWAY COMPANY LIMITED PRESTON & BERLIN RAILWAY COMPANY LIMITED". Trainweb. Trainweb. 19 July 2004. Retrieved 25 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "CAMBRIDGE AND ITS INFLUENCE ON WATERLOO REGION'S LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT". Waterloo Region. Waterloo Region. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  5. ^ Mills, Rych (10 January 2017). "Flash From the Past: Preston Car and Coach goes up in smoke". Record. Kitchener. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  6. ^ "CAMBRIDGE AND ITS INFLUENCE ON WATERLOO REGION'S LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT". Waterloo Region. Waterloo Region. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  7. ^ Sharkey, Jackie (8 February 2017). "There's still wiggle room in the Region of Waterloo's LRT plans for Cambridge". CBC. CBC. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Sharkey, Jackie (February 2017). "Stage 2 ION: Light Rail Transit (LRT)" (PDF). Region of Waterloo. Region of Waterloo. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  9. ^ "Region of Waterloo Rapid Transit". Region of Waterloo. Retrieved Aug 27, 2012.