MP-1983.92.9 | Wood-burning locomotive and crew, St. Sauveur des Monts, QC, about 1900

Wood-burning locomotive and crew, St. Sauveur des Monts, QC, about 1900
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
10.2 x 10.2 cm
Gift of Raymond Cherrier
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Accompanied by the stationmaster, the entire train crew poses proudly next to the locomotive. The fireman and the engineer, the two brakemen and the conductor can be seen.

The contents of the tender behind the engine indicate that it ran on wood. It was the fireman's job to keep the fire going and watch the water level to maintain a constant head of steam. The engineer was responsible for the engine, controlling speed and direction.

The two brakemen applied the brakes to stop the train. In the early days, brakes were applied manually on every car on the engineer's signal. Brakemen also had to couple and uncouple cars by hand, without being crushed - an especially dangerous task.

The conductor's role was to ensure that the whole train ran smoothly.

  • What

    The first steam engines had to stop frequently at stations along the way to load up on wood and fill up on water.

  • Where

    Engineers and firemen on the first steam engines had to work in an open cab exposed to the elements.

  • When

    In 1853, the firm of James Good of Toronto built the first Canadian locomotive.

  • Who

    The railway companies gave bonuses to the engineers who ran their engines most efficiently, which led to some rivalry among train crews.