History of the Kingston & Pembroke Railway (K&PR)

The K&PR was incorporated in April 1871 by a group of local Kingston businessmen for the purpose of constructing a rail line north to a point in the Ottawa Valley at or near Pembroke. The railway was intended to gain access to the natural resources (logging and mining) and potential markets to the north. Surveying of the line began in 1872 with construction commencing soon after from Kingston. Progress was initially slow, however, given the rough terrain to be found to the north of the city, and the continual shortage of capital. In June 1875, the company was reorganized and the first portion of track opened 29 miles north to a place known as Iron Junction. As well, a small branch line was built east from the mainline at Godfrey into a mine at Glendower. By May 1876, the project had reached Sharbot Lake 47 miles north of Kingston while, in the fall of 1878, the railway was completed to Mississippi.

With the completion of the Canada Central Railway north along the Ottawa River Valley to Mattawa in 1876, the necessity to build all the way to Pembroke became less critical. Even at that time, there was no need for the duplication of lines in the area. Accordingly, the K&PR was granted powers to make connections with the Canada Central at any point before Pembroke. In the interim, work continued on the rail line, opening to Lavant in 1881, Clyde Forks in 1882, and Barryvale in 1883. As well, the Glendower branch was extended several miles east to Zaneville. In 1884, the mainline was open to Calabogie. It was in this area that the K&PR was forced to spend substantial amounts of money on track construction, having to deal with major trestle, fill and rock cut works. From Calabogie, there remained only fifteen more miles to Renfrew where connections could be made with the CPR. The gap was finally joined by the end of that year. This was as close, however, as the line would get to its namesake community, Pembroke. Total track mileage amounted to about 103 miles.

The next major construction initiative for the company (in 1886) was extending its tracks south to the Kingston waterfront, portions of the right-of-way being shared with the GTR. Here, the company built a new station and other terminal buildings. The volume of Ottawa Valley traffic originally anticipated by the railway never really materialized for the K&PR, forcing the company to rely primarily on local traffic. This became increasingly difficult given the sparse population of the lands the railway served, in addition to competition from motor vehicles. The main sources of revenue, however, tended to be derived from lumber and some iron and ore traffic. In 1894, the company fell into receivership, a situation that existed until 1899. By this time, the CPR had expressed interest in purchasing the company, hoping to keep it out of the hands of the GTR. Operation of the line was assumed in November 1901 with a 999 year lease being entered into in 1912. Over time, the infrastructure of the company was upgraded and the road bed rebuilt. Under the Canadian Pacific, the line became known as the Kingston Subdivision. The entire line has been abandoned in the following manner: Snow Road to Calabogie in January 1962, Tichborne to Sharbot Lake in February 1964, Sharbot Lake to Snow Road in September 1966, Calabogie to Renfrew Junction in February 1977, and from Kingston to Tichborne in 1986.

 

Source: Rob Hughes