“All aboard, the train is leaving the station!” In Quebec, the first railway was opened on the island of Montreal in 1847. By 1896, there were already 5 400 kilometres of railways in the province of Quebec. Over the years, new routes were added to connect all of Quebec and Canada from coast to coast.

Getting around

The arrival of the railways solved certain transportation problems. For example, some roads were impassable by horse or car. Waterways were frozen in the winter and not always accessible. But with the creation of the rail network, people could move with the same reliability and speed in both summer and winter.

Doing trade

The railway had enormous economic potential for Quebec. It also stimulated the economy by allowing merchandise to be transported over long distances, such as to the West and the United States. Rail transportation also promoted the development of mining and agricultural exports (dairy, grains, etc.). The railway was not just used for business, however. People could also take train excursions to Charlevoix or the Laurentians, which in turn promoted tourism.

Did you know?

In the off-season, farmers who owned forests along the railway would chop and stack wood here and there beside the tracks. This allowed steam trains powered by wood to refuel along their route.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

Learn more about the railways construction on our page: Building the railway on occupied, mountainous land

Compare a few videos of the times on Youtube.

Can you tell what has changed in the earliest part of the 1900s?

Around the world in 1896!
Canada 1907 (Vancouver)


New York 1911
1925 Canada


Quickly check your knowledge: