Victoria and Sidney Railway
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One of three railways to operate on the Saanich Peninsula, the Victoria and Sidney Railway Company was formed in 1892 as part of the City of Victoria's plan for a rail line serve the Saanich Peninsula. After granting the V&S certain tax concessions and various loans construction began on a rail line from downtown Victoria to downtown Sidney. Surveying and grading soon began and passed through nearly every important community between Victoria and Sidney. Operations began in 1894 and at the time the Saanich Peninsula was mostly forested with only limited areas under cultivation. Timber and cordwood production was key industry in the area and provided a major source of freight revenue for the railroad. Since all the early V&S locomotives were wood burners, local residents quickly dubbed the train the "Cordwood Limited". A slightly less complimentary name for it was the "tri-weekly" because although it ran every day, it tried weakly.
In the early days of operations, the V&S proved a popular route for excursion passengers to the agricultural fairs at Saanichton and for picnickers travelling to Bazan Bay and other areas of the Saanich Peninsula. This was before the days of serious competition from buses and automobiles, and, since the roads existing at the time were in very poor condition the train was the most popular means of travel.
It was always hoped that the Victoria and Sidney Railway would connect to the mainland by steamer, with new rail lines built to the major Fraser Valley centres. By 1900 the idea was officially advanced and the Victoria Terminal Railway and Ferry Company was formed to provide a rail-steamship-rail connection to the lower mainland. Plans were also made to extend the line to connect with the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway depot downtown Victoria. However plans to extend the V&S to the E&N depot never materialized. The rail line connection on the mainland now makes up part of the BCR Port Sub and the Victoria Terminal Railway and Ferry co. dock was located near the present day BC Ferry terminal at Tsawwassen.
The motive power on the V&S consisted of 3 locomotives. No.1, a 2-6-0 Mogul built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1893 was well suited to the local service and was the mainstay of the railroad. Indeed, it handled the 7% grade at Royal Oak much better than the other two locomotives. The No.2 was a much older 4-4-0, having been built in 1875. The engine's large drivers made it slippery on the grades, meaning it could only be assigned to the lightest trains. The No.3 was heavier 4-4-0 and like the No.1 was better suited to the harsh grades on the V&S.
Great Northern Purchase
Great Northern saw potential in the Victoria and Sidney Railway. However, after GN purchased the V&S (1902) traffic continued to decline and service on the V&S deteriorated. A further blow to the V&S came in 1913 when the BC Electric Railway company built an interurban railroad to Deep Bay(now Deep Cove) in North Saanich, supplementing its well established streetcar lines in the city of Victoria. The BCER offered a more frequent and continuous passenger service than the V&S could provide with its old run down equipment. Business on the V&S briefly picked up and the competition between the two railways was intense and the Great Northern replaced the old wooden coaches on the V&S with a modern gas motor car built by the McKeen Motorcar company.
With the construction of the Canadian Northern Pacific's line(later becoming CNR's Patricia Bay Subdivision) from Victoria to Patricia Bay, the competition was too much for the Victoria and Sidney Railway. Starting in 1917 the Great Northern Railway pulled out of operating the V&S. Service continued for another year until finally in 1919 the V&S shut down and the line was abandoned. A small stretch of the V&S was purchased by the Canadian National Railway to continue to service customers in the Sidney area. CNR abandoned its Patricia Bay Sub north of McKenzie Ave in 1935 and the remaining portion of the V&S was abandoned.
Today a section of the once V&S railway that went behind elk/beaver lake is used as a trail. There is also a street called "Veyaness Road' which goes over the original track. This begins at Keating cross road and goes north till it reaches the Prairie Inn.