Ribbon of Steel
Building a national railway
The first true railway in Canada was the Champlain and Saint Lawrence Railroad, built in 1836. It was barely 25 kilometres long and ran from La Prairie to SaintJean in what is now Quebec.
In the 1850s and 1860s, small railway lines were being built all over Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Most carried freight such as lumber or coal, often to be loaded onto ships. Some ran less than 10 kilometres.