VIEW-1141.1 | Railway on the ice over St. Lawrence River, Montreal, QC, 1880

Railway on the ice over St. Lawrence River, Montreal, QC, 1880
William Notman (1826-1891)
1880, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
10 x 8 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Photograph (77678) , rail (370) , Train (185) , Transportation (2517)
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Keys to History

This freight train is crossing the river between Montreal and Longueuil on ice! On January 30, 1880, the newly formed Compagnie de Traverse de Chemin de fer d'Hochelaga à Longueuil opened an ice railway linking Montreal and the South Shore. Ice roads had long been built each winter to allow horse-drawn wagons and pedestrians to cross, but this was the first time that rail tracks were laid.

The following year, this temporary rail service was disrupted by what could have been a disastrous accident. On January 5, 1881, the ice suddenly gave way beneath the locomotive. The passengers barely had time to flee the train before the engine car sank beneath the icy waters.

Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)

  • What

    The ice railway was three kilometres long in all. It ran for two kilometres over the river ice, with a half-kilometre access route on either shore, at Hochelaga and Longueuil.

  • Where

    The ice railway linked the South Eastern Railway network on the South Shore with the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental line on the Island of Montreal.

  • When

    The ice railway operated during four winters, from 1880 to 1883, until the Grand Trunk Railway authorized other train companies to use the Victoria Bridge to cross the river.

  • Who

    The ice railway was the brainchild of Louis-Adélard Senécal, businessman, politician and superintendent of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental railroad.