The railway consisted of a horizontal section that brought travellers from the ticket house, located near what is now the George-Étienne Cartier Monument, to a transfer station at the base of the mountain, where riders boarded the funicular cars. Both sections were steam-driven, with cars pulled by cables.
The funicular was inaugurated in 1884, a year before its official opening. Rides initially cost 5 cents for adults and 3 cents for children. It transported visitors to the summit of Mount Royal, facing east. It was declared structurally unsafe and closed in 1918, and dismantled in 1920.