Ontario and Quebec Railway

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Ontario and Quebec Railway
Reporting mark O&Q
Locale Ontario, Canada
Dates of operation 1881–
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Ontario and Quebec Railway (O&Q) was a historic Canadian railway located in southern and eastern Ontario. It was initially chartered in March 1881 by managers of the Canadian Pacific Railway to run run between Toronto and Perth, where it would connect, via a short branch line, to the CPR-controlled Brockville and Ottawa Railway. Construction began in 1882, and the line was completed in August 1884.

Starting in 1883, CPR began using the O&Q to build out an extensive rail network in southern Ontario to compete with the Grand Trunk Railway. The O&Q leased the Credit Valley Railway, Toronto Grey & Bruce, London Junction Railway and some sections of the Canada Southern Railway, building an extensive portfolio of routes. In August 1888 they provided a direct through route to Montreal by leasing the Atlantic and North-west Railway and connecting it to the O&Q via an extension from Smiths Falls to the Quebec border. A final major extension was the West Ontario Pacific Railway (WORP), which connected the Credit Valley in Woodstock to Windsor and the US border. The WOPR opened in 1887, and was immediately leased to the O&Q.

The western end of the O&Q currently forms the CPR mainline from Windsor to Toronto, running through Toronto's downtown area and into the CPR Toronto Yard in Scarborough. The route eastward remains in limited use through Peterborough and on to Havelock where it serves several mines. However, most of the traffic between Toronto and Perth was redirected to a new CPR line running along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, the Campbellford, Lake Ontario and Western Railway. This turns northeast at Kingston to meet the O&Q at Perth, where the original O&Q forms the rest of the CPR mainline to Montreal.

The section from Glen Tay and Tweed was abandoned in 1971, and then from Tweed to Havelock in 1988. This section is now a portion of the Trans Canada Trail. The section from Toronto to Havelock, now known as the Havelock Subdivision, is currently up for sale and has seen some interest by GO Transit for passenger service to Peterborough. The section from Perth to Quebec operates as the Winchester Subdivision, from Woodstock to London as the Galt Subdivision, and from London to Windsor as the Windsor Subdivision.


The railway had received a charter in 1881,[1] authorizing it to building a railway line between Perth and Toronto. It was effectively controlled by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), as 95% of the shares issued were held by persons connected with the CPR.

Through the O&Q, the CPR created its railway network in southern and eastern Ontario:[2]

  1. it amalgamated with the Credit Valley Railway,[3] which had also acquired a 999-year lease to a railway line from London Junction Railway.
  2. CP sold to O&Q its line from Perth to Smiths Falls
  3. O&Q leased from Toronto Grey & Bruce Railway for a term of 999 years its rail line running from Toronto northwest to Owen Sound and other points
  4. O&Q purchased from Atlantic and North-west Railway a part of the its railway system in Quebec thereby providing a connection to the province's railways
  5. O&Q received authorization to amalgamate with the CVR, TG&B, A&NW or Canada Southern Railway, or acquire or lease any of their lines, in order to provide a through service between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal[4]
  6. Parliament approved a preliminary agreement between the CPR and CVR, O&Q and A&NW to provide for the leasing of lines in order to provide for a through route between Montreal and St Thomas.[5]

Lease of operations to CPR[edit]

The CPR formalized its association with the O&Q by obtaining a 999 year lease on it in 1884,[6] expiring in 2883. By 1890, this lease gave the CPR an extensive network in Ontario and Quebec, with lines reaching between Quebec City and Windsor, Ontario, as well as a line running from near Ottawa to a connection with the CPR at Mattawa, Ontario.

The CPR never owned all of O&Q, a fact that caused legal problems when it attempted to sell off some O&Q real estate in Toronto that had become quite lucrative. However, the CPR won the court battle, which went to the Supreme Court of Canada.[7]

While O&Q and the TG&B had always been operated as part of the CPR network, they were finally amalgamated to form the St. Lawrence and Hudson Railway in 1998,[8][9] as a consequence of a corporate reorganization undertaken by CP.[10]


  1. ^ An Act to incorporate the Ontario and Quebec Railway Company, S.C. 1881, c. 44
  2. ^ Wotherspoon, pp. 969–970
  3. ^ by virtue of s. 19 of the 1881 Act and An Act respecting the Credit Valley Railway Company, S.O. 1882-83, c. 50
  4. ^ An Act to amend an Act to incorporate the Ontario and Quebec Railway Company, S.C. 1883, c. 58
  5. ^ An Act respecting the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, S.C. 1883, c. 55
  6. ^ An Act to confirm the lease of the Ontario and Quebec Railway to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and for other purposes, S.C. 1884, c. 54, confirming the "Indenture of lease: The Ontario & Quebec Railway Company to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company". January 1884. 
  7. ^ Wotherspoon v. Canadian Pacific Ltd. 1987 CanLII 2807, [1987] 1 SCR 952 (25 June 1987)
  8. ^ "Federal Corporation Information - 3543064". Industry Canada. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Federal Corporation Information - 3543072". Industry Canada. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ Re Canadian Pacific Limited 1996 CanLII 8029 (2 July 1996), Superior Court of Justice (Ontario, Canada)