Saturday, December 4, 2010

Prototype History

Quebec City Railway History Overview

1869-1874: Quebec & Gosford Wooden Railway (Q&G) operates passenger and freight trains from St. Sauveur Station to Gosford County.
1875: Quebec Montreal Ottawa & Occidental Railway (QMO&O) is the first standard railway reaching Quebec City from the North Shore.
1880: Q&G is reorganized as the Quebec & Lake St. John Railway (Q&LSJ) with the goal to reach Chambord near the namesake lake.
1882: QMO&O is sold to Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The process will take a few years to complete.
1888: Q&LSJ mainline is completed.
1889: Quebec Montmorency & Charlevoix Railway (QM&C) connects Hedleyville (Limoilou) to Ste. Anne de Beaupré. A station is built at the junction with Q&LSJ in Hedleyville (see header picture). A wye is probably used to turn locomotives north to the right of way, before the bridge to Quebec City is built.
1890: Quebec & Lake St. John Railway (Q&SLJ) extends its mainline from Val-St-Michel to Hedleyville and builds a swing bridge over St. Charles River in a joint venture with QM&C to gain access to Quebec City Downtown.
1891: Talks between QM&C and Q&LSJ about the new union station in Quebec City Downtown fails. Q&LSJ build its own station and shops at Bassin Louise.
1894-1898: QM&C builds a temporary passenger station south to the swing bridge to respect a previous deal with Quebec City Council.
1898: Quebec City pays reluctantly 100 000$ to QM&C for a new station on St. Paul Street.
1899: QM&C changes its name for Quebec Railway Light & Power (QRL&P) after a merger with Quebec District Tramway and Montmorency Falls Electric Power. Ste. Anne de Beaupré line is renamed Montmorency Division.
1900: All QRL&P lines are fully electrified from Quebec City to St. Joachim.
1905: Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) purchases Q&LSJ and QRL&P builds Mont Mills spur at Morency Junction north to Limoilou.
1908: CNoR builds a new junction between Garneau yard and Limoilou.
1915: Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) builds Palace Station. Access rights are granted to CNoR and Quebec Central Railway (QCR). CNoR Bassin Louise Station and shops are dismantled and a new freight yard and shops are built in Limoilou.
1909-1919: Quebec & Saguenay Railway (Q&S) extends QM&C mainline to Clermont (Charlevoix) from St. Joachim.
1923: CNoR and Q&S are fully absorbed into Canadian National Railway (CNR). CNoR track from Limoilou to Allenby is renamed Lairet Subdivision and ex-Q&LSJ line is renamed St. Raymond Subdivision.
1951: CNR purchases QRL&P Montmorency Division and renames it Murray Bay Subdivision.
1954: St. Paul Street Station is demolished to make room for the new post office.
1959: Commuter service between Quebec City and St. Joachim is abandoned. Remaining tracks at St. Paul Street Station are dismantled.
1960’s-1970’s: Most rail-served industries around Limoilou yard and Lairet Subdivision close their doors.
1964-1974: CNR roundhouse and shops at Limoilou are dismantled.
1976: Dufferin-Montmorency Highway is built. Palace Station closes and tracks are removed to make room for the new highway. In the process, original Hedley-Junction is removed and Limoilou yard modified accordingly. Murray Bay Subdivision now connects to Limoilou through a wye. The turntable is dismantled
1985: Via Rail Canada reopens Palace Station and passenger trains run on CNR mainline over St. Charles River’s bridge.
1990-1997: St. Raymond subdivision is abandoned and converted into a biking trail.
1994: Murray Bay Subdivision is sold to Chemin de fer du Québec (CFQ) and renamed Chemin de fer de Charlevoix (CFC).
1986-2010: Most rail-served industries on Murray Bay Subdivision close.
2010: CFC is sold to Daniel Gauthier (Groupe Le Massif) for tourist trains. CNR obtains rights to operate future freight trains.

Hedley-Junction and Limoilou yard history

Railway service in Quebec City traces its origin back in 1869 when Quebec & Gosford Railway (Q&G) was founded to connect the capital to the northern township of Gosford with a wooden railway. It operated from 1870 until the track went into disrepair in 1874. Followed the Quebec Montreal Ottawa & Occidental (QMO&O) in 1875 which built its terminal were the actual Palace Station stands. In 1882, the long process to sell QMO&O to Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) started. In 1880, Q&G was reorganized as a standard iron-rail line and renamed Quebec & Lake St. John Railway (Q&LSJ). From 1880 to 1888, the new line reached Chambord on Lake St. John from Quebec City through St. Raymond and Rivière-à-Pierre. It shared Canadian Pacific Station in Quebec City (actual Palace Station site) but would soon be a key player in Hedley-Junction birth.

Credits: Q&LSJ brochure (1898),, 2010

A few years erlier, Mr. Hedley, a rich businessman in the lumber trade, founded a village called Hedleyville for his employees. A small yard and station were built there waiting for the day a swing bridge would be built on the river to get direct access to Quebec City business district.

Credits: QM&C brochure (circa 1890),, 2007

In 1889, Horace Jansen Beemer, a well-known railway contractor in the area who had undertaken the city aqueduct yearss before, decided to build a new railway line to haul pilgrims to St. Anne de Beaupré Shrine, which was recently granted the prestigious title of Basilica by Pope Leo XIII in 1887. This new company was known as Quebec Montmorency & Charlevoix Railway (QM&C) and had a chart granting permission to extend the line to Tadoussac River (a feat it never did).

Credits: Train wreck at Hedleyville (circa 1890),, 2010

Naturally, Hedleyville became the new terminus for this line and soon Q&LSJ dicided to connect its mainline from Val-St-Michel to QM&C. The station was located near St. Charles River between both mainline and the QM&C yard was east of it. At this time, Hedleyville was a busy place and the small industrial village was quickly incorporated. After a few merger, the new town was renamed Limoilou in honor of Jacques Cartier’s birthplace. Over the years, the railways switched the name to Limoilou even if the former name “Hedley” would stay in colloquial speech until now. There's no proof Q&LSJ built the actual yard and it would be unlikely.

Credits: First swing bridge built accross St. Charles River (circa 1905),, 2010

By the end of 1889, talks between QM&C and Q&LSJ took place. Both companies wanted to build a swing bridge over St. Charles River and a modern union station in downtown Quebec City. Rivalry and jealousy between both companies prevented this to happen. Nobody wanted to pay and operate the bridge! Finally, in 1890, Quebec City council forced them to work together and Q&LSJ and QM&C finally agreed to build the bridge the same year.

Credits: Q&LSJ Station (circa 1905), F. C. Würtele,, 2010

Collaboration between the two railways never went further and no compromise was reached about the union station. In 1891, Q&LSJ decided to move on and quickly built a new and elegant terminal on St. André Street. It included a 3-storey victorian passenger stations, a 3-storey freight warehouse (picture: behind de station), a yard, a shop and a roundhouse (picture: right to the station, not visible).

Credits: Valentines & Sons Publishing Co. (circa 1905),, 2010

QM&C was slower to respect its previous agreement with Quebec City, effectively taking it in hostage to get subsidies for the new station. In 1895, the exasperated City council gave in and $100 000 were officially granted to build an already built strectch of track between the Hedleyville and Quebec City Harbour. A scandal burst out when public discovered the cunning strategy in 1898. This time, QM&C finally decided to build what would be known as St. Paul Street Station.

From this point, Hedley Junction focussed on freight interchange, both yard developing large facilities. North to Limoilou yard, on Canardière Road, Lairet Station was built. This wooden structure would be the last remaining passenger station in Quebec City until it was finally razed in summer 2007 (excluding CPR Palace Station and modern VIA Rail Ste-Foy Station formerly know as Bridge Station).

Credits: #405 leaving St. Paul Station (Sept. 1954), petespix75,, 2010

In 1900, QM&C became the Quebec Railway Light & Power (QRL&P) and electrified its line. Interurban style service was implemented and the line renamed Montmorency Division. In 1919, extension to Clermont (Charlevoix) was completed but under a different ownership. This new line went under CNR management and was known as Murray Bay Subdivision. Steam power was still used to do interchange with other railways in Quebec City and St. Joachim.

Somewhere around 1905, Q&LSJ was sold to Great Northern Railway of Canada, a short-lived company quickly absorbed into Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR). Despite this fact, many railroaders still refer to the west mainline in Limoilou yard as "Le Grand Nord", the French translation for "Great Northern".

Circa 1908, a new and direct CNoR mainline reached Quebec City from Garneau through a wye junction north to Limoilou yard. National Transcontinental Railway (NTR) joined with CPR at Cadornac Jct and finally connected Quebec City to South Shore and New England railways through the infamous Quebec Bridge in 1919.

Credits: Palace Station (1948), Paul Carpentier,, 2010

In 1915, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) upgraded significantly its infrastructures by building the famous Gare du Palais (Palace Station). It was not an union station, but CPR granted access to CNR and Quebec Central Railway. At this time, former Q&LSJ station on St. André Street was demolished. However, even if Hedley Junction was near CPR and sharing some trackage in Quebec City Harbour, interchange was scarce with CNR/QRL&P at this place. Most CNR passenger trains had to run on CPR track from Cadorna Junction (St. Sauveur ward) to Palace Station until 1976. No direct link existed between CNR track and CPR Palace Station so commuter trains from St. Raymond and Murray Bay Subdivisions had to enter the station backward from an interchange near former St. Paul Street Station.

Credits: Quebec Tpographic Map (1920),, 2010

Circa 1915, after former Q&LSJ terminal at Bassin Louise was dismanteld, CNoR built the actual Limoilou yard and shops incluading a large roundhouse. In 1923, it was fully merged into Canadian National Railway. In 1927, QRL&P built the modern Limoilou shops equipped with a transfer table east to Hedley Junction.

Credits: #4509 at Limoilou (1967), Don Jaworski,, 2010 

In 1951, QRL&P was sold to CNR and electric traction was abandoned in 1959 in favour of dieselization. The line became part of Murray Bay Subdivision and by late 1959, all interurban passenger service was abandoned because of automobile concurrence. St. Paul Street Station was demolished the same year and the land cleared to erect a new post office. During the 1960's, CNR also built the new Battures de Beauport yard south-east from QRL&P interchange yard. By 1974, the roundhouse and car shops were long gone; the turntable survived until 1976 when the yard was redesigned to make room for a new highway.

Credits: Train from La Malbaie (Murray Bay), Gerry Burridge, circa 1960-1964.

The last daily commuter trains to travel through Hedley Junction in the early 1970's were deserving St. Raymond and Murray Bay Subdivisions (excluding the former Montmorency Division)

Credits: Last passenger train, Gerry Burridge, 31th August 1976
In 1976, Palace Station closed, all CPR properties were vacated to make room for a new elevated highway. Track was removed as far as Cadorna Junction, near St. Malo ex-NTR facilities. The historic station was scheduled for demolition but barely survived after protests from architects and the local population.

Credits: Transportation Safety Board of Canada (2009),, 2010

Dufferin-Montmorency Highway (440) between St. Roch Ward in Quebec City and Beauport was completed in 1976. This project, planned in the late 1950’s and built from 1962 to 1980 needed to make room for the modernity. Parts of St. Roch and particularly the Chinatown were razed; Hedley Junction, its station and the former QRL&P double mainline were expropriated and replaced by a concrete elevated highway. Marshes east to this yard and parts of St. Lawrence River were filled in the process. Murray Bay Subdivision lost its direct access to Quebec City Harbour and was rerouted through a new wye built south to the former CNR roundhouse.

Credits: Pierre Fourier (1994),, 2010

In 1985, Palace Station was fully restored and reopened. However, VIA Rail trains now use CNR track crossing the St. Charles River to access the station. In 1992, Palace Station was recognized Heritage Station by federal government and is now preserved by law.

In the 1990’s Limoilou yard became dependent from Joffre yard located in Charny. Engine houses and car shops were long gone since the 1960’s and most of the small industries located along the yard closed over the 1970’s.

Credits: CFC train exits the wye (2008), Maxime Larouche,, 2010

From 1990 to 1997, St. Raymond Subdivision is closed slowly closed section by section and finally transformed into a 22 km biking trail known as Corridor des Cheminots. The next year, Murray Bay Subdivision was sold to Quebec Railways (Chemin de fer Charlevoix; CFC) and went back under CNR management in 2010, with Le Massif de Charlevoix as operator. A major track overhaul occurred this same year in prevision of a future tourist train. From a certain point of view, Hedley Junction disappeared quietly in 1976, its right of way converted into a questionable highway which still fuels interrogation about messy urban planning from the 1960’s.

Quebec City Harbour activities grew steadily in the recent years in favour of rail transport. Nowadays, Limoilou yard handle bulk freight such as grain, chemicals, minerals and oil products. CPR no longer access the old city, subcontracting its trains to Quebec-Gatineau Railway.


  1. Très instructif. Cependant la gare de Hedley Junction date de 1880 (voir . et Quebec and Lake St-John Railway sur wikipedia (par le soussigné). Vous devriez publier sur wikipedia un article sur la Quebec, Montmorency et Charlevoix.

    1. Bonjour Gaétan. C'est un résumé historique fait il y a 6 ans et je ne l'ai jamais mis à jour malgré la découverte de nouveaux faits. Il est donc remplis d'erreurs et d'approximation.

      Il faut faire attention à ne pas confondre Hedley-Junction qui est la jonction entre le Q&LSJ et le Great Northern situé près de la 4e avenue Est et la gare de Hedleyville située à la jonction entre le Q&LSJ et le QMC sous l'autoroute Dufferin-Montmorency actuelle. J'ai fait cette erreur dans le passé comme plusieurs autres. La gare de 1880 serait celle de Hedleyville (dans le site de New Waterford et est celle sur la photo de l'entête du blog). Elle a été utilisée comme terminal des trains de Ste-Anne avant que le pont sur la rivière Saint-Charles ne soit construit (beaucoup de magouilles financières et politiques dans le dossier du pont d'ailleurs).

      Des photos des années 1950 et 1960 me font penser que cette gare a été remplacée par une autre structure au même emplacement mais selon un alignement différent à une époque ultérieure. Il n'y a pas beaucoup d'information disponible sur cette gare.

      Jusqu'à preuve du contraire, rien n'indique qu'une gare en bonne et due forme ait existé à Hedley-Junction.

      J'ai déjà édité l'article Wiki sur la QM&C dans le passé, mais à part les noms des stations, cela a été remanié de manière importante depuis. J'avais fait un graphique de la ligne pour l'article anglais, il semble avoir survécu contrairement à l'article français.

      Je suis d'avis que l'article sur la Q&LSJ est bien monté et que celui sur la QM&C devrait être sur le même format. Cette ligne a connu 6 époques distinctives et la forme actuelle du texte rend le tout difficile à comprendre. Aussi, j'ai l'impression qu'en centrant le titre de l'article sur "Chemin de fer Charlevoix", on se peinture dans le coin en l'identifiant à une époque restreinte et qui n'a plus d'emprise sur la situation actuelle plutôt volatile de cette ligne dont l'identité actuelle et future est relativement floue. Je ne sais pas trop de quel bord prendre tout cela!

    2. Gaétan, je me demande si l'article Chemin de fer Charlevoix ne devrait tout simplement pas s'appeler Quebec Montmorency & Charlevoix Railway puisque c'est le point d'origine de toute cette aventure. Ensuite, le découpage en périodes historiques (QMC 1889-1900, QRL&PCo 1900-1959, Quebec & Saguenay, CN 1923/1951-1994, Chemin de fer Charlevoix (1994-environ 2012, puis la phase Train du Massif de Charlevoix (TMC) et puis Réseau Charlevoix actuel). Qu'en pensez-vous?

    3. Désolé pour le retard, je ne fréquente pas ce site régulièrement. C'est une excellente idée pour le titre et les périodes. Je pourrai aidé avec Wikipédia si tu le désires.
      Quant au QLSJR, j'ai finalement corrigé la date de construction du pont tournant (1890 au lieu du 1884 mentionné par l'historien J.-M. Lebel) et grâce à la ville de Shannon et M. Carrette, j'ai ajouté l'utilisation pendant 10 ans du parcours original de St-Sauveur avec accès à la gare du Palais via le Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental (voir Wikipédia anglais).
      Gaétan Gagnon

  2. Gaétan J. GagnonApril 24, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    The Quebec , Montmorency & Charlevoix Railway Co. v. Mathieu
    Est-ce que tu as gagné (clin d’œil)? Je n'ai pas encore vu ton article sur Wikipédia; il serait dommage que tes connaissances se perdent. Comme tu l'as mentionné, tu peux l'intituler Quebec, Montmorency & Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré et couvrir toutes les périodes jusqu'à aujourd'hui.

  3. Voir l'article tel que suggéré: Chemin de fer Quebec, Montmorency & Charlevoix:,_Montmorency_%26_Charlevoix
    Tu peux certainement compléter l'information. Par exemple, en quelle année a été démantelée la voie entre Québec et les Chutes?
    Gaétan Gagnon

    1. Bonjour M. Gagnon. J'ai pris connaissance de l'article et ça me semble une bonne base solide. Pour le moment, je suis malheureusement très occupé par d'autres tâches professionnelles qui m'empêchent de mettre du temps sur ce projet actuellement. Pour ce qui est de la voie entre Québec et la chute, j'imagine que vous faite référence à la ligne de tramway de Beauport. Si ma mémoire est bonne, elle a été démantelée vers 1934. Selon des documents vidéos de 1980 du CN, la voie avait été conservée sur quelques centaines de pieds à la jonction à la rivière Beauport pour servir d'embranchement aux usines qui s'y trouvaient. Je vous conseille fortement de mettre la main sur le livre: Les Tramways de Québec de Jacques Pharand. D'autres embranchements ont existés mais ils sont très mal documentés. Il faudrait consulter les archives QRL&PCo conservées chez Hydro-Québec à Montréal. Elles sont consultables sur demande et l'archiviste est très professionnel.