Friday, April 18, 2014

A New Story...

In 1908, Quebec Parliament voted subsidies to build 25-miles of main line between Lac-Frontière and St. Pamphile with the ultimate goal to link Chaudière Subdivision with an interchange point with Temiscouata Railway at Cabano, QC. The line was never built because of WW1 but the project was revived during the early 30s to fail again in 1932. What would have happened if Quebec Central Railway did extend the Chaudière Sub up to St. Pamphile, QC, during WW1 as planned? We will try to answer that question while discovering a fascinating rural community bordering the State of the time of Quebec Central Railway's slow demise during the late 80s.


What should have been a dot on the line became an improvised terminal of an avorted main line whom last half-mile of track was converted into an industrial siding serving a sawmill; The 25-mile St. Pamphile Spur was born.

Rail facilities were spartan; a short passing track and the feed mill siding. No way to turn a steam locomotive up there; running reverse at slow speed down to Lac-Frontière was to be the rule until diesels roamed the place from the early 60s onward.


In April 1986, nobody could tell if rail service was going to last until the end of the decade. The average Joe couldn't predict the 1987 recession would be the last nail in the coffin of the line.

There was rumours of abandonment of line during the last few years. Last passenger train was in 1949 and the mixed train service ended back in 1967 for Canada's Centennial. Talk about an ironic coincidence for a country built by rails!

That said, most of the line trafic dried out when the forest resources depleted during the last two decades and the agricultural optimistic forecasts never quite materialized. One's would be a fool to expect Prairies-like outcomes from a rocky mountain plateau.

However, business is still strong in that small but industrious village. Sure the feed mill have been a loyal customer for more than 50 years now, but nobody could have expected the sawmill to grow that much when others were closing one after one. A big thanks to that big company that purchased it when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Even the railway company had already pulled out the siding, sure this industry had dried out for good!

And finally, the unexpected provincial subsidies voted in 1985 to recommission the hydroelectric dam were like a God sent gift. For once, trucking can't beat the rail in such a remote place. Iit should last for two years, but who knows what will happen after that point? At least, the railway company will have hard time for while prooving Canadian Transportation Commission the line isn't profitable anymore and should be abandoned.


November 1986, the last pulpwood shipment to Trois-Rivières paper mill convinced the company to abandon the line once for al.

March 1987, the railway company is trying to settle an agreement with the dam contractor to cease shipment of bulk material by rail. There will be penalties if they do so, but some people think it would be cheaper than running a bankrupt line until the end of the year.

December 1987, the die has been cast. The feed mill and the sawmill have switched to trucks over the last months when abandonment talks resumed. The rail line is now doomed by the recession and lack of clients. The railway company doesn't see any profit keeping the line open during the winter months.

April 1988, an important flood down severed the line down from the main network in the Chaudière valley near Beauceville. It's a matter a months before the official abandonment is effective. It's the end.

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