Canadian Northern Ontario Railway Station Background
The promise of another railway in Smiths Falls to compete with the Canadian Pacific Railway was rumored since 1893. Not until 1905 did the new Canadian Northern Ontario Railway (CNoOR) propose to undertake a connection between Toronto and Ottawa with construction commencing in 1909. The line was not completed until 1914. Precambrian igneous rock, deep swamps and swales between Chaffey’s Locks (Mileage 69.8) and Sydenham (Mileage 88.0) made this line very difficult to cut through and stabilize but made this line exquisitely beautiful.
The Smiths Falls station was built on a swamp. To start construction, the “topsoil” in the swamp was dug down to the clay underneath (about 9″- 12″) and the footings poured to a depth of about 16″. Concrete foundations were poured on top of these footings. The fill for the mainline came from the rock cut to the north of the station as it went under the CP mainline. The fill behind the station came from the Lyndhurst Station area on the Brockville & Westport.
Special thanks to Rian Manson for sharing the following text and photos.
Here is one of the most important photographic documents at the Railway Museum, Donated by Orville Ruttle: CNR Conductor on the CNR Rideau Area for more than 40 years.
First, the main line is roughly laid on sub ballast (no ballast alongside the shoulders or crib). The water tank has been completed and has a tank spout. This is the only photo showing this tank spout.
In another photo, we see it removed and the water standpipes are visible. There seems to be a makeshift bumping post ahead of the tank and a very small hint of rails between the foundations of the tank and the freight house. It’s an educated guess that the station grounds had this makeshift construction track for the tank and freight house, and probably also for filling the swale that the station grounds were originally.
This photo is special as it shows both water standpipes for locomotives to fill their tenders. In the foreground, the westbound standpipe, in the distant background beside the line, the eastbound standpipe. One telegraph pole is erected but the telegraph lines are not installed yet, neither is the order board.
The station is well underway in this photo. Roof trusses, corbels, and the portico are in place. The Brockville Recorder & Times August 23, 1912 stated that: “The CNoOR station at Smiths Falls is well underway. The foundations, which are of concrete, have been finished and the first three feet of the superstructure of handsome stone have been placed. They have already begun to lay the brick for the express office and the whole when finished promises to be a fine building.”
It is hypothesized that this photo would have been taken in the Autumn of 1912 before the snow, the trees have lost their leaves. In this photo, the station is nearly completed except for filling in the portico area with fill, and the platform.
The station is finally finished. There was no formal announcement of the completion of the station but judging by the clothing and the weather, it was a damp cold day in October or November 1912. The fill around the station has yet to be filled, and the bridges across the Rideau River would not appear for another six months.
The people here were not recorded, but we can see the plasters and mould makers with their patterns displayed on the platform. Could the man on the far left be Mr. King, the head contractor?
Interesting to note that on the other side of town at the same time, tenders were put out to local contractors for the erection of a new CPR engine house and machine shop.
You can read more about the Station in a Swamp by clicking on the link: