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The Carillon & Grenville Railway

William MacKenzie and Donald Mann’s Canadian Northern (CNor) became interested in the Carillon & Grenville right of way. In 1909 the Canadian Northern Ontario (CNO), a CNor subsidiary, completed a line from Ottawa to Hawkesbury on the south side of the Ottawa River opposite Grenville. On the north side of the river MacKenzie and Mann had acquired Armstrong’s Great Northern Railway of Canada and consolidated it with a number of other Quebec properties to form the Canadian Northern Quebec Railway.

Canadian Northern had plans to build a tunnel under Mount Royal and thus finally have a direct route into central Montreal. This tunnel was opened in 1918 and served the tunnel Terminal Station in downtown Montreal. Prior to the opening of the tunnel CNor trains into Montreal had to travel to Rawdon Junction or Joliette to the northwest of Montreal and then turn southeast into a terminal at the corner of Moreau and St. Catherine in the east end of Montreal and away from any significant commercial centre.

Trains leaving Montreal for the west via the Mount Royal tunnel could travel through the Mount Royal tunnel to St. Eustache (later Deux Montagnes) and then north to St. Jerome. They could then turn west along the former Great Northern, cross the Ottawa River at Grenville and then proceed to Ottawa. This route was circuitous so the Canadian Northern decided to build a cut off just north of Deux Montagnes station to run west to St. Andrews, Carillon and Grenville using part of the Carillon & Grenville’s right of way. Construction was to be done under the Canadian Northern Ontario banner.

Prying the Carillon & Grenville away from Armstrong was a problem. In 1912 Armstrong made his move to amalgamate his collection of railways including the now dormant Carillon & Grenville under the Central Railway of Canada name. This manoeuvre was later declared to be illegal but until then CNor’s hands were tied. In 1913 Canadian Northern put in an application to the Dominion Parliament to confirm the sale of the Carillon & Grenville to it. The sale was still in dispute with the Central Railway of Canada and was before the courts, so the application was withdrawn. Parliament finally confirmed the sale of the Carillon & Grenville to the Canadian Northern Ontario in 1914.

By then the First World War was underway and MacKenzie and Mann’s projects were hampered by labour and capital shortages brought on by the conflict. The opening of the Mount Royal tunnel was delayed until 1918 and the first train via the Grenville cut off only operated in 1919. By that time the Canadian Northern had been taken over by the Canadian government and was being operated as the Canadian National.

Only about six miles (9.6 km) of the old Carillon & Grenville right of way were used for the cut off. (See Carillon & Grenville Map) Discarded was the right of way from the wharf at Carillon to Cushing. Part of the C&G’s western end was retained as the Grenville spur running west from the former Great Northern’s crossing. (See Grenville Map)

In 1919 a short 1.1 mile (1.8 km) connection was built to join the Canadian Northern Quebec (ex Great Northern Railway of Canada) and the Canadian Northern Ontario at Cushing Jct. The 4.98 miles (8 kms) of the ex-Great Northern that ran north of the old C&G was then abandoned. Under Canadian National, the Canadian Northern Quebec track was operated as the Lachute Subdivision and the Canadian Northern Ontario Grenville cut-off was known as the L’Orignal Subdivision and later the Grenville Subdivision.

The old Carillon & Grenville right of way formed part of a through route from Montreal to Ottawa until July 26, 1939 when the line was abandoned from Ottawa eastwards to Jessop, Ontario. (The track was lifted in October 1939.) In 1940 the track from Jessop to Hawkesbury was taken up. The Lachute Subdivision from Cushing Jct. to Carbo near Papineau Jct. (St. Jerome) was also abandoned in 1940.

The Bridge across the Ottawa River from Grenville to Hawkesbury was abandoned in 1962. It was a casualty of rising waters caused by the construction of a Hydro-Québec power dam at Carillon. This same hydro-electric project flooded the old Carillon & Grenville canal system. Hydro-Quebec built a single lock at Carillon as part of the power station to serve pleasure craft. The Grenville spur was scrapped in 1963.

 There was passenger service from Montreal to Grenville until 1976. Up to and including the April 26, 1968 timetable, the train ran six days a week. It arrived at Central Station at 08:46 and left Central station at 17:40 so commuting from Grenville and other points on the line to Montreal was possible. At the next timetable change, on October 27, 1968, frequency was reduced to Thursday only inbound, and Wednesday and Saturday only outbound. Commuting was now obviously out of the question. The timetable issued April 27, 1969 saw the days of operation changed to Monday only inbound and Friday only outbound. The train was now useful only for those with weekend residences. This routine continued until the train made its last appearance in the October 26, 1975 timetable. It made its final run westbound on January 9, 1976.

The Grenville Subdivision was abandoned on September 14, 1988.

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