Industry Village & Rawdon Ry. Opening Date Uncovered

Reprinted from C.R.H.A (Canadian Railroad Historical Association) News Report, March 1960,  p. 19.

    Generally speaking as a result of the discovery of the Keefer Report, and other contemporary publications, the Canadian railway historian has the history of early Canadian railways pretty well documented. Paradoxically, it can almost be said that we are better informed on the railway situation in Canada in the period immediately preceding Confederation in 1867, than we are in the time immediately following that important event.

    However, one of the early railway companies, which has repeatedly escaped detailed research is the short-lived career of the Industry Village & Rawdon Railway Company, which flourished for a brief period in the early 1850s. The oldest constituent railway line of what is now the Canadian Pacific Railway, is the Saint Lawrence & Industry Village Railway Company, which was opened between Lanoraie Village, on the Saint Lawrence River, and Village d'Industrie (Joliette), in Quebec province, on May 1st, 1850.

    Shortly after the opening, the Industry line promoted and built the railway to Rawdon. As far as is known, the latter railway was operated by the motive power and rolling stock of the Lanoraie-Joliette line, and had a short-lived career, but until the night of our February meeting, this was the extent of our knowledge. At the meeting, however, it was discovered that the Redpath Library exhibits which we had come to inspect, included an invitation, written by J. H. Dorwin, President of the Industry Village & Rawdon Railway Company, on December 4th, 1852. Apparently they proceeded down the Saint Lawrence from Montreal by steamer as far as Lanoraie, where they joined the Industry Railway to Joliette, thence over the new line to Rawdon. The abutments of the Rawdon Railway bridge over the river at Joliette are still plainly to be seen, and the configuration of the roadbed can be seen in the fields nearby, and at the point where the roadbed crosses the Canadian National's l'Assomption Subdivision west of the present City of Joliette. The location of the line on towards Rawdon, however, has never been known. The railway was apparently not a financial success, for it was abandoned before 1858 when the first Keefer Report was issued. In his reports, Samuel Keefer referred to railways which had been opened and later abandoned, notably the Preston & Berlin in what is now Ontario, but this event had occurred immediately previously; that he makes no mention of the Rawdon railway leads the historian to believe that this line did not enjoy more than a year or two of operation at the most.

    Incidentally, at Rawdon there is a waterfall known as Darwin Falls [sic], and it was suggested by our member Mr. Earle Moore that the Rawdon railway president, Dorwin, mentioned above, might explain the origin of his name. Another of our members, Mr. R. G. Harries, possesses a Montreal city directory for 1856, in which J. H. Dorwin is listed as residing at No. 81 Bleury Street. Several other entries having the same name appear, one of them being the Consul of the United States of America. Be that as it may, the establishment of opening date for the Industry Village & Rawdon Railway opens new avenues of research into another early railway, which some of our members, looking for a research project, might do well to follow up.

Read the Gazette's account of the official opening.