PEIR in 1887

I’m reading through a copy of The Annual Report of the Minister of Canals and Railways for the Fiscal Year 1887. It’s a fascinating document and it’s really shedding some light on our railway during it’s earliest years. The PEIR appears in a number of sections within the report and I’m learning a pile of new details that I just never knew. I thought I’d copy some exceprts here to share with you:

The engine house at Mount Stewart, which was damaged by storm, had extensive repairs

In 1887 the railway did extend east of Royalty Junction through Mount Stewart and on to Georgetown. They had also started the line to Souris. I never knew there was an engine shed in Mount Stewart. Now I really want to see if, maybe, any drawings or maps of the town from this period might exist in the Provincial Archives to show the location of this shed. Operationally, I wonder if engines were shedded at Mount Stewart the same as they would have been at Tignish or if this was just a place to hold engines overnight between their daily trips?

The report contains a section titled Semaphore Signals. I knew that many of the stations had train order signals but assumed this was the limit. I guess not:

A new semaphore was put up at Royalty Junction to replace one blown down by a storm.

Neat. I wonder where in the Junction it was situated? I wonder if the other junctions on the railway were similarly equipped?

Rolling stock is also described for the year. “Platform cars” as the Railway described flat cars seemed to live hard lives and most reports always seem to refer to new ones being built and existing ones being repaired. This report approaches these cars similarly with a note regarding ten cars being rebuilt during the year. The fleet itself was growing in size too:

  • 21 locomotives
  • 17 first class passenger cars
  • 15 second class passenger and baggage cars
  • 3 postal and smoking cars
  • 175 box cars
  • 125 platform cars
  • 3 conductor’s vans
  • 1 pay car
  • 8 snow plows
  • 7 flangers

I’ll have to dig out my sketches and those contained in Stanley LeClaire’s book on the railway to see if there are any notes or drawings of the smoking cars.

Of course the next details to locate and copy out of this report and ones like it are the revenue statements outlining the volume of commodities carried by the railway. I already have on hand some scheduling information so perhaps it will be possible to merge that with the established volumes of freight traffic carried and to begin some data modelling for that might result in some train movements or at least train lengths over time. I’m really having fun with this report and thanks to the magic of Google Books I’ve been able to find a few more of these reports so I know this is only the beginning of what promises to be a very rich research project.

Categories: How I think, PEI Rolling Stock, PEIR Borden Subdivision, PEIR in print, PEIR Souris Subdivision

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