Canadian Northern Railway
The Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway
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The Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway

Edmonton, Yukon, and Pacific Railway, Edmonton to Stony Plain
Edmonton, Yukon, and Pacific Railway, Edmonton to Stony Plain
he Calgary and Edmonton Railway reached Strathcona in 1891.1 Appeals by Edmontonians for the railway to be extended across the North Saskatchewan river, or at least to the water’s edge, were refused by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.2 The Federal Government appeared indifferent to providing a bridge connection.3

Frustrated by these responses, some Edmonton businessmen obtained a charter for the Edmonton District Railway in 1896.4 Unable to build the railway, the charter was acquired by a group of railway promoters from eastern Canada headed by William Pugsley, a former attorney general of New Brunswick.5 These promoters, excited by the discovery of gold in the Yukon, had the charter amended to allow an extension of the railway to the Territory.6 And that was the extent of their activity.

By August, 1898, the charter had been acquired by William Mackenzie and Donald Mann of the Canadian Northern Railway Company, who had the name changed to the Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway (EY&PR). The charter permitted them to build “...either to the Yellowhead Pass or the Peace River a port in...British Columbia.”7 By then, the Federal Government finally decided to provide funds for a bridge across the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, which was completed in mid 1900.8

Having obtained permission to use the bridge for their railway, Mackenzie and Mann started construction of the line. A connection with the Edmonton and Calgary Railway was effected in early October, 1902 and the first train arrived at the Edmonton station below McDougall Hill on October 20th.9 The extension from the flats to the Canadian Northern main line was completed on November 30, 1905.10 The extension to Stony Plains was opened in June, 1907.11

First Train Crossing North Saskatchewan at Edmonton
First Train Crossing North Saskatchewan at Edmonton

This latter extension was the first leg of a proposed line to the coal fields at or near the Brazeau River at the headwaters of the McLeod River.12 In order to receive Federal Government bond guarantees the EY&PR had to amalgamate with the Canadian Northern.13 However, MacKenzie and Mann believed their interests would be better served if this line was chartered independently, and in 1910 the Canadian Northern Alberta Railway was incorporated, acquiring all the lines, assets and guarantees of its predecessors.14

The new main line from Edmonton, which eventually reached Vancouver, was routed through St. Albert and the Stony Plain extension remained a spur.15

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Notes | Bibliography | Abbreviations
1. See “CPR and Edmonton Railway.”
2. R.A. Christenson, “The Calgary and Edmonton Railway and the Edmonton Bulletin” (Thesis, Dept. of History, University of Alberta, 1967). The C&E was leased and operated by the CPR.
3. Ibid., p. 150.
4. Dominion, 59 Victoria, Ch. 17, 23 April 1896.
5. Dominion, 61 Victoria, Ch. 63, 13 June 1898; M. Zaslow, “A History of Transportation and Development of the Mackenzie Basin from 1871–1921” (Dissertation, University of Toronto, 1948), p. 59.
6. Zaslow, “A History of Transportation and Development,” pp. 59–60.
7. Dominion, 62–63 Victoria, Ch. 64, 11 August 1899; T. Regehr, The Canadian Northern Railway: Pioneer Road of the Northern Prairies, 1895–1918 (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1976), pp. 70–71.
8. Christenson, “The Calgary and Edmonton Railway,” p. 152.
9. Edmonton Daily Bulletin, 10 and 20 October 1902.
10. Edmonton Daily Bulletin, 1 December 1905.
11. Canadian Department of Agriculture, Canadian National Railways Synoptical History, p. 211.
12. Regehr notes that MacKenzie and Mann had decided by 1910 that the “coal fields could be reached more easily by building westward from Stettler...” p. 289.
13. Zaslow, “A History of Transportaion and Development,” p. 163.
14. Dominion, 9–10 Edward VII, Ch. 6, 4 May 1910.
15. D.B. Hanna, in his book Trains of Recollection, talks about the E.Y. and P. with the following tid-bit: “All the coal for his [Entwistle was the engineer] engine on the E.Y and P. was dug by the section man from the bank within a few feet of the track on the Edmonton side of the river” (p. 179).