Historic Sites of Manitoba: Canadian Pacific Railway North Transcona Yard (RM of Springfield)
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Yard at North Transcona, in the Rural Municipalities of Springfield and Kildonan, was built in 1912 to alleviate pressure on the company’s existing yards in Winnipeg. The yard was designed by the firm of Westinghouse, Church, Kerr, & Company under the direction of CPR Chief Engineer J. G. Sullivan. It included a 35-stall roundhouse, completed by November 1912, turntable, machine shops, power house, office buildings, a 100,000-gallon water tank, 105 miles of track, and 366 switches. Soft, wet ground posed problems for construction, as discovered when the nearby terminal elevator nearly fell over, and filling low-lying areas of the yard required 2,058,454 cubic feet of soil.
Completed at a cost of $4 million, the site had a capacity for over 12,000 cars, with its 106-foot turntable being the largest in North America at the time, capable of handling 100-foot locomotives. Future plans called for the roundhouse to be upgraded to 44 or even 55 bays, and eventually the construction of a second roundhouse. The gravity system which fed cars throughout the yards originally consisted of two separate humps with two subways (tunnels) cut through each rise. The north hill and both its subways have since been removed, along with the eastern cutout from the south hill. The north hill served westbound cars, and the south hill was for eastbound cars. A steel footbridge once crossed repair yard, at the end of which was the yardmaster’s office, employee dining hall, and general offices. At the eastern end of the repair yard, a double-track crane still remains. Additional yard structures were constructed into 1914, including bunkhouses, a brickyard office building, and ice house. The site was functionally opened on 4 May 1914. A formal opening ceremony on 18 June was attended by Lieutenant Governor Douglas Cameron, Acting Winnipeg Mayor Daniel McLean, several Winnipeg alderman, and members of the professional and business communities.
To support the new railway hub, numerous nearby residential areas with graded streets were called for, along with some 14 miles of sidewalk. Amenities and local businesses including a licensed 36-room, three-storey hotel (on Van Horne Avenue at the corner of King Street), post office, banks, and several commercial venues. Among those involved in the development was real estate agent William Grassie, for whom present-day Grassie Boulevard is named. Contractor George Neil was tasked with erecting several hundred houses to supply lodgings for the railway employees. Of the 50,000 residents and several thousand employees who were envisioned would live in the area one day, only a fraction ever materialized. With the onset of the First World War, resources were redirected to support the war effort.
The yard was closed on 15 December 1928 with the firing of 328 CPR employees. The remaining staff, some 800-1000, were re-deployed to the company’s other Winnipeg-area yards. Though still an active rail yard, most of the large structures, along with a sizable amount of track, have long since been removed. The planned grain yard was never built. Rail access to the site is now via the eastern flank only, as the westbound track exiting the yard now ends between Lagamodiere Boulevard and Chief Peguis Trail. Its former connections to the CPR Bergen-Cutoff Railway Bridge as well as the Marconi Line (now the Northeast Pioneers Greenway) were removed and yard trackage has also been notably reduced since first opened. A new heating plant for the roundhouse was tendered in May 1927, though all that remained of the roundhouse as of late 2016 was its chimney and traces of the foundation. In late 2016, the chimney and most other remaining features were demolished.
Yard Capacity (1914)
Photos & Maps
“Demand for realty grows brisker as spring approaches,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 February 1912, page 3.
“Canadian Pacific Railway tenders [Roundhouse],” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 May 1912, page 8.
“Now ripe for subdivision,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 June 1912, page 15.
“North Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 July 1912, page 8.
“From factory to home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 July 1912, page 12.
“CPR Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 July 1912, page 12.
“C.P.R. North Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 October 1912, page 11.
“C.P.R. Yards North Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 November 1912, page 11.
“The greatest railway on earth is throwing every ounce of its power, prestige and enterprise behind C.P.R. Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 November 1912, page 4.
“Immense railway yards at North Transcona,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 January 1913, page 14.
“Winnipeg men are buying in N. Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 Jan 1913, page 1.
“CPR Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 March 1913, page 11.
“Canadian Pacific Railway Company [Tender, Bunk House and Brick Yard Office Building],” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 April 1913, page 2.
“C.P.R. Transcona very active,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 May 1913, page 10.
“Building at North Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 May 1913, page 8.
“Great damage in N. Transcona fire,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 June 1913, page 3.
“Several changes announced in postal service,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 July 1913, page 12.
“Canadian Pacific Railway Company [Ice House],” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 November 1913, page 6.
“New yards will open May first,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 April 1914, page 1.
“Transcona realty on move,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 April 1914, page 13.
“North Transcona grows,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 May 1914, page 6.
“North Transcona progress,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 May 1914, page 22.
“Govt. is to pour money into West,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 May 1918, page 1.
“Officials to see Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1914, page 17.
“Transcona: the future labor centre of Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1914, page 3.
“C.P.R. Transcona,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1914, page 3.
“Transcona: the future labor centre of Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 May 1914, page 28.
“Transcona builders cannot supply the houses fast enough,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 May 1914, page 12.
“Transcona == magic city,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 June 1914, page 13.
“Free Press man visits new C.P.R. Transcona Yards,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 June 1914, page 17.
“Synopsis of C.P.R. Development,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 June 1914, page 17.
“Kern franchise up to Premier,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 June 1914 page 1.
“Many sales of local realty,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 June 1914, page 5.
“C.P.R. shows off its new yards,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 June 1914, page 9.
“Will use North Transcona elevator,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 August 1915, page 25.
[Chataway’s Map of Greater Winnipeg enlarged & revised edition, 1917.] “C.P.R. Transcona Yards may remain closed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 October 1924, page 9.
“Canadian Pacific Railroad Co. Tenders [Roundhouse heating plant],” Manitoba Free Press, 14 May 1927, page 19.
“New heating plant at North Transcona,” Manitoba Free Press, 14 May 1927, page 36.
“C.P.R. dismisses 328 employees today,” Manitoba Free Press, 15 December 1928, page 2.
“C.P.R. Transcona Yards to close at midnight,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 December 1928, page 36.
“Excited throng greets arrival of first locomotive,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 1949, page 64.
“Rail line expands services,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 2003, page B6.
Page revised: 3 February 2018
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