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The Impacts of the Railway

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Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent, Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec

The Impacts of the Railway
Presentation of the project:

The lesson aims to bring out the impacts of the arrival of the railway and its direct consequences on industrialization and urbanization.

Instructions:
- Transcribe the questions and answers on a computer or on paper.
- Inscribe all the information on a time line that begins in 1860 and ends in 1950.

The Intercolonial Railway

- Familiarize yourself with the map and locate the borders of the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
- Find the cities of Rivière-du-Loup, Halifax, and Moncton, as well as the Intercolonial Railway line.
- What were the political issues involved in the creation of the Intercolonial Railway?
- In your opinion, what were the advantages of the creation of a railroad link with the Atlantic ports of the Maritime Provinces?
- In what way did the railway encourage and facilitate settlement?
General map of the Intercolonial Railway in 1876
Intercolonial Railway Map, 1876
The map shows the Intercolonial Railway line between Rivière-du-Loup and Halifax. This rail link was a political and economic issue for the new Dominion. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald promised to extend the railway to Halifax as a way of convincing the Maritime Provinces to join Confederation in 1867. The railway gave Canadians access to a vast market between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic ports.

Sandford Fleming
Map



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Intercolonial Railway map, Rivière-du-Loup sector
Intercolonial Map 1876
Starting in 1860, Rivière-du-Loup was the eastern terminus of the Grand Trunk line. Between 1869 and 1876, the Intercolonial Railway built the Rivière-du-Loup-Halifax line. It ran behind the lands of villages on the St. Lawrence as far as Sainte-Flavie Station, then wound southeast through the Matapedia Valley, hugged the Baie-des-Chaleurs, and continued southwards through New Brunswick near the coast.

Fleming, Sandford. The Intercolonial. Montréal, Dawson Brothers Publishers. 1876. 268 pages.
Map



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Map showing the Intercolonial Railway line between Moncton and Halifax
Intercolonial Railway map 1876
The trains of the Intercolonial Railway rounded the Baie-des-Chaleurs and continued down through New Brunswick to Moncton. After crossing Nova Scotia, they ended their journey at the port of Halifax.

Fleming, Sandford. The Intercolonial. Montréal, Dawson Brothers Publishers. 1876. 268 pages.
Map



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
The railway bridges
Intercolonial Bridge Trois-Pistoles
On the railway line, teams of labourers built immense bridges of wood and iron, some of which presented daunting technological challenges. A good example is the railway bridge that crosses the entire 1000-foot breadth of the mouth of the Trois-Pistoles River, perched on five 100 foot-high pillars.

Sandford Fleming. The Intercolonial. Montréal, Dawson Brothers Publishers. 1876. P. 146.876. p.146
Lithograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Intercolonial
Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Intercolonial
From 1869 to 1876, the vast construction site of the railway is between Rivière-du-Loup and Halifax. Sandford Fleming, chief engineer, leads a team of surveyors and engineers who oversee the work. The distance is about 900 km.

Library and Archives Canada, C-001164
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Demographic Movements
As elsewhere in Canada and the United States, the development of the railway greatly increased commercial exchange and the mobility of the population. Beginning in the 1860s, the Grand Trunk Railway facilitated migration from the countryside to Montreal and the large manufacturing towns of the eastern United States. In the second half of the 19th century, many regions of Quebec, including the Lower St. Lawrence, suffered the effects of this rural exodus. At the same time, another immigration movement contributed to the development of several regional hubs. From 1876 onward, the Intercolonial Railway opened the way for a new demographic flow between the Maritime Provinces and Quebec.

- What were the different origins and religions of the early railwaymen in Rivière-du-Loup?
- What do you think was the working language used by the railway companies?
- Compare with the situation at the present time.
The origins of the railway men
Extract of the census of Fraserville, Quebec, Canada, 1891
This extract of the census of the town of Fraserville contains information on the origins of the railway men, their place of birth, religion, and profession in 1891. The station and railway shops only hired men who had completed a recognized apprenticeship, and therefore, attracted skilled workers. Many of the mechanics, locomotive engineers, and brakemen who immigrated to the town were born in Ireland, England, Scotland, the Maritime Provinces, and the United States.

Library and Archives Canada, Temiscouata County, City of Fraserville, p. 110-111.
Archival document



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Census of Fraserville in 1891
Extract of the census of Fraserville, Quebec, Canada, 1891
William McNeil was twenty years old. He was a locomotive fireman and was born in Quebec. Benjamin Walker was thirty five, and was station agent for the Intercolonial Railway. He was born in Quebec, his parents were born in England, and his wife, Marguerite, was of Irish extraction. All were Protestant. William Walsh was a locomotive engineer. He was thirty-seven and was born in Nova Scotia. He was Catholic, as were his wife and their four children, two of whom were born in the United States.

Library and Archives Canada, Fraserville, Temiscouata County, 1891, p. 111.
Archival document



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Immigrant families
Scottish immigrant family, Rivière-du-Loup, 1904.
The jobs offered by the railway companies attracted immigrants of various origins. Many were of English or Scottish origin, and most were Protestant. They represented 8% of the population of Fraserville in the 1880s. If they wished to marry French-Canadians, Protestants were obliged to obtain a dispensation from the bishop of the diocese before the marriage could take place. This was a common situation in those days.

Fonds Stanislas Belle, Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent, Frank King, b07655
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Industrialization
During the latter half of the 19th century, mechanization and the revolution in transportation were the principal factors responsible for industrialization. While the economy had previously centred on agriculture, new means of production made profitable use of complex mechanical systems and machines that used hydraulic power, steam, or coal to achieve high productivity levels.

- Give examples of the mechanization of labour.
- What advantage did the railway give to new manufacturing companies?
- What can you learn from the photo of the railway shop workers?
- In your opinion, what were working conditions in factories like in those days?
- Why did railwaymen enjoy better conditions than other workers?
The railway men
Workers at the Intercolonial shops, Rivière-du-Loup, 1926
Workers of the Intercolonial Railway shops at Rivière-du-Loup in 1926. The railway machine shops were the town’s major employers. Maintaining the steam engines and the cars required mechanics, ironsmiths, and carpenters. At that time, the railway men’s working conditions were the envy of workers elsewhere. Their wages were competitive and they were even protected by union agreements.

Fonds Belle-Lavoie, Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent, bl0039.
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Birth of a Neighbourhood
From the mid-19th century onward, employment opportunities in the cities drew people from the rural areas in Quebec, the rest of Canada, and the United States. The neighbourhoods that sprung up around the stations in towns on the railway routes were the first to experience serious crowding.

- Name two types of businesses established in the area adjoining the railway station.
- What transformations could be seen in the sector adjacent to the station
The first station, in 1860
station, Grand Trunk, Rivière-du-Loup
The first station was built in 1860 in yellow brick from Scotland, above the big falls of the Rivière du Loup. This was the terminus of the Grand Trunk line arriving from Lévis. The village was mainly situated close to the St. Lawrence shore in those days, and few people lived in the area where the station was built. A locomotive repair shop, a structure to keep wood, a water tower, and a shed to store merchandise were the total installations at the time.

©Musée Mc Cord, William Notman, N-0000.193.53.2
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
The station area
Station, Rivière-du-Loup
In a few years, several neighbourhoods grew up near the station. Workers, businessmen, industrial leaders, and hotel-keepers first established themselves along Lake Temiscouata Road, which led to the railway installations, and later, on the other bank of the Rivière du Loup. The first streets were laid out in these sectors in the 1880s.

Fonds Belle-Lavoie, Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent, bl1006.
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
The neighbourhood’s first streets
Rue Saint-André, Rue Saint-Elzéar, Rue Fraserville, Rue Témiscouata, Rivière-du-Loup
With the opening of the Intercolonial Railway line, the station was too small; in 1883, increased activity justified the construction of a new building. Since the arrival of the railway twenty year earlier, farm and woodland had given way to stores, hotels, and houses. The first streets of this sector were laid out along the Rivière du Loup and on the slope that rose behind the station.

Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Rivière-du-Loup, Fonds Société d’histoire
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Urbanization
The urbanization process launched in the second half of the 19th century continued into the beginning of the 20th century. Industrialized cities experienced unprecedented growth. In the working-class neighbourhoods of large cities, living conditions were still very difficult and basic sanitation was exceptional. The urban growth rate remained constant, reaching its zenith in the middle of the 20th century.

- Compare the percentages of the urban population in the Lower St. Lawrence region at the end of the 19th century and in the middle of the 20th century.
- By how much percent did the regional population increase between these two periods?
Two neighbourhoods, two parishes, two churches
Saint-François-Xavier neighbourhood near the station, Rivière-du-Loup
Railway activity had a major impact on the area surrounding the station, which was completely transformed within a few decades. A veritable rail and business hub, the city of Rivière-du-Loup grew tremendously at the end of the 19th century. From 1881 to 1891, its population doubled, far surpassing that of other communities in the region. Growth continued at such a pace that in 1905, two new parishes were founded in the town, one on each side of the river.

Fonds Paul-Émile Martin, Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent, m04052
Photograph



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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Table of urban and rural population development of the Lower St. Lawrence, 1891-1951
Table of the urban and rural population of the Lower St. Lawrence
The region’s population doubled between 1891 and 1951. During this period, economic conditions encouraged the rise of several urban centres. The lumber and railway industries were the principal motors of this development. Forestry and agricultural products, as well as manufactured items, travelled by rail to distant markets from large and small stations in the region. In 1951, for the first time, the rural population numbered less than that of city dwellers.

Jean-Charles Fortin et al. Histoire du Bas-Saint-Laurent. Éditions Marquis, Montmagny, 1993. P.363




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Learning Object Collection: The arrival of the railway
Learning Object: Urbanization

Learning Objectives

-To understand the political context and the economic impact of the construction of a railway in eastern Canada.
-To observe demographic movements and the industrialization process during the second half of the 19th century.
-To understand the concepts of industrialization and urbanization in depth.
-To analyze cartographic and iconographic documents.
-To interpret a table.