Transportation in Quebec

During the 19th century, transportation was a central factor in Quebec’s development. Inn 1809, John Molson launched in Montreal Canada’s first steamer, the Accommodation. This vessel transformed for ever the Canadian economy.

The first Canadian paddle-steamer Royal William was built in 1831 in Quebec City (the vessel was powered by a 200-horse engine built in Montreal). The Royal William was the first merchant ship in the world to cross the Atlantic under steam. Steamships and railways brought new dimensions of industrial production, capital labour concentrations and organisation. However, even as late as at the end of the century much of the province was served by only rough roads and sail shipping. Coastal and inland trading along the St. Lawrence and Atlantic were also dependant on transportation networks. Gradually attention was shifting to rail transportation.

Engines rolling on iron rails permitted freight to move on a year-round basis, and new engineering techniques opened regions previously inaccessible by water routes. Railways permitted access to new markets and resources, thus the first Canadian international railway linked Montreal and the ice-free port of Portland, Maine.

Since 1860, the Grand Trunk Railways extended from Sarnia, Ontario to Portland, through Montreal and Eastern Townships. Later it reached New Brunswick. All the railway industry concentrated in Montreal.

At Pointe-St-Charles, industrial shops included blacksmith, foundry, warehousing, locomotive-erecting facilities and much more. The shops were illuminated by gas lights and steam-heated by burning sawdust from the local sawmill.

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