MP-1985.31.167 | Electrical train at Shawinigan(?), QC, about 1900
Electrical train at Shawinigan(?), QC, about 1900
N. M. Hinshelwood
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
16 x 21 cm
Gift of an anonymous donor
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Photograph (77678) , rail (370) , Train (185) , Transportation (2517)
Keys to History
As the saying goes, there's no stopping progress. After the tramway comes the electric train. The first electric engine is used in the London Underground (subway) in 1890. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad puts one into service in 1894 in the United States.
Canada doesn't lag far behind. Electric trains are used in Quebec as early as 1900.
Electric trains run faster than steam trains. They are also more comfortable and more powerful. They use less energy, don't pollute, are quieter and generally need fewer repairs. They also help bring down the cost of train travel. Quite the list of advantages!
Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)
In 1900, the railways link Canada to an extent that would not have been imaginable just one decade before.
The Champlain & Saint Lawrence, the first railroad in Canada, is laid along the 14 miles (about 23 km) between La Prairie and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal. Constructed in 1836, it is a rough and tumble railroad that runs on wooden rails. Something much sturdier will be needed to link Canada from sea to sea.
After 1903, the Canadian Northern, Grand Trunk and National Transcontinental railroads receive federal government assistance to lay new track. The network of rail lines in Canada jumps from 29,000 km in 1900 to 63,000 km in 1920.
The railroads are a real boon to the settlement of new immigrants in Canada. At the end of the 19th century, tens of thousands of immigrants from Europe travel by train to their new homes in the West, transforming the nation along the way.