Old Ottawa South Community Association

  • Ottawa South History Project

From the Archives: Railway Tracks Going Under Canal

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Now used by the Ottawa O-Train,  the decision fifty years ago to eliminate level crossings along the rail line, thereby constructing a tunnel under Dow’s Lake to replace the level railway bridge, changed the face of the western part of town. Here from the Ottawa Citizen article 13 June 1961, the announcement of the planned work.

Railway Tracks Going Under Canal; Begin Work in Fall; Finish 2 Years

The government has approved the depression of the CPR Prescott railway line across the city’s West End.

Expected to start in the fall, the $3,600,000 project will see the line go under the Rideau Canal by tunnel and by open cut from the canal to near Gladstone Avenue.

Not a level railway crossing will be left in the section concerned.

Eliminated as level crossings will be Colonel By Driveway, Prescott Highway, Carling Avenue, Gladstone Avenue, and of course, the new Queensway. All these traffic arteries will over-pass the depressed railway line.

There will be much less defacement of the Carleton University campus.

Allan K. Hay, National Capital Commission chairman, announced government approval for the project at a press conference this morning.

The NCC, in due course, will secure a considerable drawback in grants from the Railway Grade Crossing Fund, operated under the Transport Commissioners for Canada.

The CPR Prescott railway line will be the one remaining railway line crossing to the Hull side of the Ottawa River, by the Prince of Wales Bridge, near the city filtration plant on Lemieux Island. The line is necessary to provide a link with industries in Hull and the so-called North Shore railway lines to Montreal.

Depression of the CPR Prescott line is an important part of the NCC overall $12,000,000 National Capital railway relocation program to be completed by 1965.

The overall railway relocation program will result in a spectacular reduction the number of railway level crossings in the metropolitan area and construction of a new $5,000,000 Union Station in the Hurdman’s Bridge area just off the Queensway. 

New freight yards and freight sheds will be provided for both CNR and CPR companies in the Alta Vista and Walkley Road areas.

C.C. Parker Associates of Hamilton will prepare detailed plans for new depressed construction of the CPR Prescott line.

J.L. MacQuarrie, NCC railway consultant, will co-operate on the plans.

Elevation of the CPR Prescott line, using embankments, and bridge overpasses for the railway line, would have cost $1,000,000 less than the tunnel-open cut construction plan.

However, the NCC and the government felt the greater expense was warranted in the public interest and future development of the area concerned.

Happy With News

“We are happy about this decision,” President A. Davidson Dunton said this morning, commenting on news that the CPR Prescott railway line that runs through Carleton University’s campus will be depressed into an open cut.

"We'd much rather have the line depressed rather than raised up on an embankment. We've been hoping for this move for some time."


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